Ottawa: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s appointment of former Governor General David Johnston as an expert on foreign interference in elections has been strongly objected by the two major opposition parties.
After the PM Trudeau selected Johnston, it was said that the decision was taken in consultation with all the opposition parties. However, opposition dismissed his appointment as a “family friend” of the prime minister and repeated calls for public inquiry.
In a statement on Thursday, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said Trudeau had appointed his ‘family friend’, his neighbor, and a member of the Trudeau Foundation, which receives funding from Beijing, as an independent expert to investigate China’s meddling in Canada’s federal elections. Trudeau should conduct a public inquiry instead of covering up what he has done.
The NDP and some other important personalities said that they have full confidence in Johnston for this work.
But there are some reasons for this opposition such as Johnston is a member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, an independent charitable organisation that recently announced it was returning $200,000 it received seven years ago and that too because it was accused of having ties to Beijing.
As the then Governor General, Johnston visited China in 2013. Even before that, he had visited China several times. During his visit to China in 2017, Johnston also met Chinese President Xi Jinping and on the same day, Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo died in Chinese custody.
Johnston had said at the time that the issue of China’s human rights was raised by him during the meeting.
Johnston’s relationship with the Trudeau family is said to be very close and old.
PM Trudeau on Wednesday said that it is very important to maintain Canadians’ faith in our electoral system and democracy. “Choosing David Johnston as an independent expert will not only strengthen our integrity, but he will bring with him a bundle of experience and skills,” he said.
Trudeau also said that he is confident that in order to keep our democracy safe and secure as well as the trust of the people in it, Johnston will evaluate this issue without any bias and will take all necessary steps. Less than 24 hours after Trudeau announced Johnston’s name, conservatives and block Quebecois politicians have begun to question the neutrality of the expert.