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Johnston will finalize own mandate for election interference probe

OTTAWA – Former governor general David Johnston says he will have a hand in determining his own mandate as special rapporteur on foreign interference in recent federal elections.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped the former governor general and legal scholar on Wednesday to probe allegations of Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections, which were reported by Global News and the Globe and Mail.

In a statement to The Canadian Press, Johnston described attempts to undermine the country’s democracy as “serious matters” and said he was “privileged” to have accepted the appointment.

“I will work with officials to finalize the mandate, which will be made public promptly, to look into foreign interference in the last two federal general elections, and make appropriate recommendations on how to further protect our democracy and uphold Canadians’ confidence in it,” he said.

Federal opposition parties are divided over Johnston’s appointment.

The Conservatives have said he is too close to Trudeau and the Bloc Québécois alleged he has been “chummy” with China.

While the NDP has voiced support for Johnston’s appointment, it has joined the Tories and Bloc in continuing to call for a public inquiry into the allegations of foreign meddling.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2023.


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