The Commons yesterday voted 174 to 150 to fire David Johnston as cabinet’s “special rapporteur” on Chinese subterfuge. Johnston rejected the vote, saying he didn’t answer to MPs.
“I deeply respect the right of the House of Commons to express its opinion about my work going forward but my mandate comes from the government,” Johnston said in a statement. “I have a duty to pursue that work until my mandate is completed.”
The retired governor general in a May 23 First Report rejected parliamentary demands for a public inquiry into alleged election fraud by Chinese agents. “I have not found examples of ministers, the Prime Minister or their offices knowingly ignoring intelligence, advice or recommendations on foreign interference or being driven by partisan considerations in dealing with these issues,” wrote Johnston.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday defended his appointee. “It’s understandable that political parties want to make partisan points on this but the fact of the matter is David Johnston has served this country,” Trudeau told reporters.
A Commons motion sponsored by New Democrat MP Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East) asked that cabinet dismiss Johnston and comply with a March 23 House motion for a public inquiry. “The situation around foreign interference is real,” said MP Kwan, who was warned by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service she was personally targeted by Chinese agents.