Thursday, March 16, 2023

Johnston's Appointment

David Johnston has been appointed special rapporteur to look into the question of whether or not China interfered in our elections. Susan Delacourt writes:

His task now is to look at all that’s being alleged about China’s attempts to meddle in Canada’s political process, and to assess whether an inquiry is needed and what form that inquiry will take if it does happen.

It’s not a small task. Essentially, Johnston first has to airlift this whole foreign-interference story out of the partisan mess where it now resides. The sooner the better. Conservatives were piling on to Johnston’s appointment in the immediate aftermath of the announcement, raising doubts about this statesman’s legitimacy in the same way they’ve been sowing doubts about everything from the prime minister’s loyalty to the results of the last two elections. If nothing else, that knee-jerk reaction demonstrated exactly why this controversy needs some adult supervision, now.

Conservatives conveniently forget that it was Stephen Harper who appointed him Governor-General:

Johnston was an excellent governor general from 2010 to 2017 — appointed by then-prime minister Stephen Harper — and then went on to head up the commission that oversaw federal election debates in 2019 and 2021. Trudeau’s government clearly sees him as uniquely qualified to be a non-partisan referee in a polarized political world — so unique, one wonders, that there are no others like him?

Johnston has also done a job like this before. In 2007, Harper asked him to sort out how to handle an inquiry into financial dealings between German businessman Karlheinz-Schreiber and former prime minister Brian Mulroney. That, too, for those who have forgotten, was a controversy with its own shades of alleged foreign interference, so that counts as experience on Johnston’s CV.

Five years ago, Johnston published a book with the simple title, Trust, in which he wrote:

“An important distinction must be made between manipulation and persuasion. The worst leaders manipulate by failing to disclose vital information or by disclosing only the information that supports their views, decisions and actions. The best leaders persuade in great part by being open about their motives and goals.” 

Words to live by.

Image: Wikipedia


Cap said...

Johnston's probably a good choice. Another would have been Bev McLachlin, an Albertan nominated to the Supreme Court by Mulroney and made chief justice by Chretien. Both are members of the Privy Council and cleared to handle state secrets.

Owen Gray said...

McLachlin would also have been a good choice, Cap. Both have credibility from a wide swath of people.

zoombats said...

I keep hearing allegations of interference by China but I am always wondering just how do they go about it and how is it a threat to our democracy? I suppose they can influence people to vote a certain way but how would that favour them? I do recall, while living in Hong Kong that full page adds were in the China Daily News offering up new condos in Vancouver. Maybe all the newly resident Canadians might vote in a manner President Xi would approve of. It seems in our country that we have to "mirror a crisis after our southern cousins. Allege a scandal, call a commission, get all giddy over the already well heeled appointee, throw some money around and discover nothing. We've been to this puppet show and we've seen the strings. Are we truly running out of things to do in this country? Stop the smoke and mirrors and get on with the job ofmaking Canadians happy and healthy members of "the best country in the world(?)" to live in.

Owen Gray said...

All of this could become a circus, zoombats. And Mr. Poilievre would be the main beneficiary.

Northern PoV said...

I can't get too worried about Lil'PP when Trudeau & Biden (for example) are approving massive new fossil fuel projects.


"Humans are now functionally extinct"

Welcome to the Suicene ...

Owen Gray said...

The news from the Arctic is not encouraging, PoV.

John B. said...

I take Johnston as an equal opportunity partisan with respect to the Liberal and Conservative establishments. How many paths of inquiry exposed by the leaks will be ignored as being related to “well-tilled ground”? An establishment man like Johnston knows that what commoners might see as corrupt is really just business as usual for the ruling class. Anything for a quiet life. That’s senior statesmanship.

Owen Gray said...

We'll see, John. Johnston knows his way around the corridors of power.