LeBlanc challenges opposition to suggest Johnston replacement, leaves door open to public inquiry

LeBlanc challenges opposition to suggest Johnston replacement, leaves door open to public inquiry
LeBlanc challenges opposition to suggest Johnston replacement, leaves door open to public inquiry

Arabnews24.ca:Saturday 10 June 2023 12:54 PM: Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Saturday he will work quickly to replace David Jonhston and consult with opposition parties to forge a public process to investigate foreign interference in Canadian elections.

"My job, in the very next few days, in short order, is to ask opposition leaders to take this matter seriously," and address questions about who could lead a public process, what its scope and timeline would be and how it would address national security questions, LeBlanc said.

"Those are the questions we're prepared to have in very short order," he said. "We're not looking to delay this process at all."

In his answers to reporters Saturday, LeBlanc described a range of possible paths forward, including simply replacing Johnston as a special rapporteur, a public process of a different kind, or working with parties toward a formal public inquiry.

Johnston resigned Friday evening, writing in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that because of the political atmosphere around his role, he was having a detrimental effect on trust in the political process — the opposite of his goal.

In his letter, he said he will leave by the end of June, or earlier if he delivers his final, brief report before the end of the month.

The Liberals' political opposition had criticized Johnston's appointment given his ties with Trudeau dating back to the current prime minister's childhood.

On Friday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre blamed the Liberals for putting Johnston in a tough spot and repeated his demand for a public inquiry.

"[Trudeau] has destroyed the reputation of a former governor general all to cover up his own refusal to defend Canada from foreign interests and threats," he said in a tweet.

A man rubs his chin against a backdrop of ceiling lights.
Former governor general David Johnston said Friday he would resign from his role as special rapporteur looking into foreign interference in Canadian elections, following over two months of criticism from opposition parties. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Conservative ethics critic Michael Barrett told CBC that Trudeau was "setting [Johnston] up for failure" by not calling a public inquiry from the start.

LeBlanc said Saturday he would be consulting with experts, legal scholars and the opposition over who might now step in to Johnston's shoes.

But he said the process would be made harder by the events of the last few months.

"Obviously Mr. Johnston's decision to step aside is as a result of the toxic partisan climate that was created largely by the Conservative party, and other opposition parties as well," he said.

"It might be hard to ask someone to step into the snowblower that they passed over David Johnston."

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