Michael Harris doesn't pull his punches. What the opposition parties are doing to David Johnston, he writes, is a "ghastly shitshow:"
The slimy assault on the reputation and character of David Johnston is unforgivable. If he had recommended a public inquiry into China’s alleged interference in Canadian elections, the same people who are slagging him would be carrying him around on their shoulders.
Make no mistake about it. Johnston’s only sin is that he didn’t give them what they wanted: a political club to bludgeon the government.
Unlike his puerile detractors, Johnston had reasons for making the call that he did. And under the right conditions—conditions befitting a national security inquiry—he was willing to share them with all party leaders who wanted to be informed.
But facts aren't important to the opposition parties:
The swift-boaters in opposition, led by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, prefer not to see the top-secret documents, complete with an annex. They prefer innuendo to information. They prefer not knowing what Johnston has come to know. They prefer instead to lead an opposition witch-hunt to remove the former governor general from his job as special rapporteur, burning his reputation to the ground in the process. And, of course, that is part of the wider game: scandal-mongering Prime Minister Justin Trudeau out of office.
The CPC under Pierre Poilievre is merely a branch plant of MAGA Republicans practising the same smash-mouth politics.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s prominent involvement in this partisan abuse of power is another matter. He knows that Johnston is a government appointment. The opposition has no authority to demand his resignation. That’s why the NDP motion was non-binding. Nor does the opposition have any rational right to bloviate about their lack of trust in Johnston without taking the trouble to find out why he recommended against calling a public inquiry in the first place.
Poilievre is just a mean little kid:
Canadians have come to expect National Inquirer-style politics from Poilievre. His irksome innuendo about why Trudeau left a teaching job mid-semester tells you all you need to know about this Trump wannabe. Most of his caucus gave him a standing ovation. No surprise there.
I used to have a higher opinion of Singh. No more:
If Singh really thinks that the fix is in—that Johnston is Trudeau’s toady, put there to do his bidding, and that only a public inquiry can get to the bottom of China’s attempted interference in Canadian elections— he should stop playing games and get down to brass tacks.
He needs to start by getting that security clearance and reading the documents so that he knows what he’s talking about. Forget about the Official Secrets Act. If what the NDP leader finds out confirms his view that a public inquiry is needed, he needs to suck it up and tell Canadians that.
And right after that, he needs to abandon his deal with the Liberals to keep this minority government in power until 2025. Never mind about what happens to him personally. Surely the leader of the NDP doesn’t have less public-spirited courage than the intelligence source who leaked this murky story to the press.
As for all the Conservative bloviating, it's wise to recall a little history:
This is not the first time that CSIS has warned the federal government about China’s alleged interference in Canadian elections. Back in 2010, then-CSIS director Richard Fadden gave a speech at a Royal Canadian Military Institute event to a collection of police officers, intelligence experts, and military officials.
A few months after that speech, the CBC reported what Fadden said. He alleged that there was foreign interference in Canadian politics. He said that several municipal politicians in British Columbia, and at least two cabinet ministers in other provinces, were under the influence of the Chinese government.
By 2010, the government of Stephen Harper had the CSIS report in which those allegations were made. So what happened?
The House Public Safety and National Security Committee demanded clarifications from Fadden. When Fadden was asked if he should apologize to the Chinese-Canadian community for his remarks, he said no. “I think the foreign power is the problem.”
The committee recommended that Fadden resign, and that Harper issue a public apology for his CSIS director’s allegations.
Instead, the Harper government entered into mammoth economic deals with China, despite Fadden’s allegations, which he never took back.
Nine per cent of Syncrude was sold to Sinopec, the giant Chinese petroleum and chemical company.
Then-industry minister Tony Clement applauded the $4.6-billion deal as he toured the new Bethune Museum in Gravenhurst, Ont., riding in a rickshaw with the Chinese national anthem blaring from speakers.
Then came the $15.1-billion Nexen deal, which saw the Canadian energy company pass into the hands of the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company.
The opposition parties are sloshing around in the bottom of the barrel.
Image: The Hill Times