TORONTO (AP) — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named a former governor general Wednesday as a special investigator to look into allegations of Chinese interference in Canada’s last two elections.
Trudeau announced Wednesday that David Johnston will take the role of special rapporteur. Johnston will decide if a public inquiry is needed and Trudeau said he will abide by recommendations.
The Globe and Mail, citing unidentified intelligence sources, reported last month that China preferred to see Trudeau’s Liberals re-elected in the 2021 election and worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered unfriendly to Beijing
The governor general is the representative of Britain’s monarch as head of state, and holds a mostly ceremonial and symbolic position. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Johnston governor general in 2010 and his term was extended under Trudeau until 2017.
Johnston has law degrees from the University of Cambridge and Queen’s University. He was a law professor for 45 years and was also president of the University of Waterloo.
Opposition parties have been demanding a full public inquiry into the alleged Chinese interference.
Trudeau has said that all political leaders agree the election outcomes in 2019 and in 2021 were not affected by foreign interference. But he has said that even if it didn’t change the results, any interference by a foreign actor is troubling and serious.
A panel of civil servants recently issued a report that concluded there were foreign attempts to interfere, but none affected the outcome of the election.