Canada appoints former governor general appointed to probe China meddling in elections
The Canadian Government has appointed a former Governor General of the country as its Independent Special Rapporteur to examine alleged interference by Beijing in the Federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
The Canadian Government on Wednesday appointed a former Governor General of the country as its Independent Special Rapporteur to examine alleged interference by Beijing in the Federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
The announcement appointing David Johnston, who was Canada’s 28th Governor General of Canada from 2010 to 2017, was made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday.
The Governor General represents Canada’s Head of State, the British monarch.
A statement from the PMO said Ottawa “takes any attempts at undermining our democracy very seriously and will continue to take action to protect our institutions and uphold Canadians’ confidence in our democracy.”
Johnston, who was a law professor, will have a “wide mandate” to “look into foreign interference in the last two federal general elections and make expert recommendations on how to further protect our democracy and uphold Canadians’ confidence in it.”
Trudeau reiterated that his Government will comply with and implement Johnston’s “public recommendations.” This will “a formal inquiry, a judicial review, or another independent review process.”
The mandate has not been finalised, nor was a time frame for the process announced. The opposition has consistently demanded an independent public inquiry into the matter.
“Canadians need to have confidence in our electoral system, and in our democracy. As Independent Special Rapporteur, David Johnston brings integrity and a wealth of experience and skills, and I am confident that he will conduct an impartial review to ensure all necessary steps are being taken to keep our democracy safe and uphold and strengthen confidence in it,” Trudeau said.
The PMO statement did not mention China, though all media reports that exposed the alleged interference and precipitated the investigative process, were specific about the source of the problem.
On March 6, Trudeau announced that two agencies will the allegations: the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians or NSICOP and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency or NSIRA. Neither of the investigations will be public.
Earlier this month, a Canadian Parliamentary panel, the House of Commons Procedure and House Affairs Standing Committee, passed a motion calling for a public inquiry into the allegations.
A series of exposes have increased pressure on the Trudeau Government. On February 17, the Globe and Mail noted, “China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 federal election campaign as Chinese diplomats and their proxies backed the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals – but only to another minority government – and worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be unfriendly to Beijing.” That report was based on Canadian Security Intelligence Service or CSIS documents.
Then, the outlet Global News cited a December 20, 2021 report from CSIS that said the “Liberal Party of Canada is becoming the only party that the People’s Republic of China can support.”