Trudeau has named a former general to investigate Chinese interference


TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday appointed a former governor general as a special investigator to look into allegations of Chinese interference in Canada’s last two elections.

Trudeau announced on Wednesday that David Johnston will take on the role of special rapporteur. Johnston will decide whether a public inquiry is needed, and Trudeau said he would follow the 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 was working to win over conservative politicians seen as unfriendly to Beijing.

The Governor-General is the representative of the British Monarch as head of state and holds a largely ceremonial and symbolic position. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Johnston governor general in 2010, and his term was extended to 2017 under Trudeau.

Johnston holds law degrees from Cambridge and Queens Universities. He was a law professor for 45 years and was also the president of the University of Waterloo.

Opposition parties are demanding a full public inquiry into China’s alleged interference.

Trudeau said all political leaders agree that the election results in 2019 and 2021 were not affected by outside interference. But he said that even if it does not change the results, any interference by a foreign actor is worrisome and serious.

A group of civil servants recently released a report saying there were attempts at outside interference, but none that affected the outcome of the election.

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