The Halifax Grid Halifax

Politics Briefing: Johnston won’t be dissuaded from completing assignment on foreign interference

Next phase to include hearings with the public, government officials and experts David Johnston, the independent special rapporteur on foreign interference, has concluded that despite identifying serious shortcomings in the way we respond to foreign interference in Canada's national security infrastructure, the work is not done. He is now going on to the next phase of his work ahead of the end of his mandate in October, holding hearings with the public, government officials and experts to address the governance and organizational gaps in Canada. A report from the Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife and Senior Parliamentary Reporter Steven Chase report here that leaders of Canadian activist and religious groups targeted by Beijing are calling for a public inquiry into foreign interference. This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey, and subscribers can sign up for the newsletter and more than 20 others on its signup page. Have any feedback?

Politics Briefing: Johnston won’t be dissuaded from completing assignment on foreign interference

Published : 2 weeks ago by Ian Bailey in Politics

David Johnston says he is not going anywhere but onwards to finish his assignment assessing foreign election interference.

“While I identified serious shortcomings in the way we respond to foreign interference, the work is not done,” the independent special rapporteur on foreign interference said in a column here published Friday by The Globe and Mail.

“And I will not be dissuaded from completing it. That is the job I undertook, and I feel obligated to complete it to the highest possible standard. Then I will leave it to Canadians to judge this contribution to safeguarding our democracy.”

Mr. Johnston is now going on to the next phase of his work ahead of the end of his mandate in October, holding hearings with the public, government officials and experts to address the governance and organizational gaps in Canada’s national security infrastructure.

After two months of work, the former governor-general released a report Tuesday that ruled out a public inquiry into concerns about Chinese government interference in Canadian politics.

Mr. Johnston has concluded that because intelligence about Beijing’s activities is highly classified, it could never be openly discussed with Canadians in a public inquiry.

However, Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife and Senior Parliamentary Reporter Steven Chase report here that leaders of Canadian activist and religious groups targeted by Beijing are calling for a public inquiry into foreign interference, saying it isn’t enough for Mr. Johnston to hold his hearings to listen to their concerns about China’s efforts to silence their criticism.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you're reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

$44-BILLION DEFICIT IN FINAL MONTH OF THE FISCAL YEAR - After cruising through most of the fiscal year in a surplus position, federal finances plunged into the red in March, the final month, with a $44.4-billion deficit. Story here.

NCC CHAIRMAN WARNED OF CONSEQUENCES OF DELAY ON 24 SUSSEX - Almost a year before the closing of 24 Sussex Dr. because of disrepair and an infestation of rodents, the chairman of the National Capital Commission’s board of directors warned that further delaying a cabinet decision on the fate of the residence would put the whole structure at risk. Story here.

COMMITTEES TO VET FEDERAL JUDGES INACTIVE WHILE CASE DELAYS GROW - Six of the 17 committees that screen candidates for federally appointed courts across Canada have stopped operating, even as the number of vacant jobs for judges contributes to severe delays in the justice system. Story here.

ECONOMIC MIGRANTS TO QUEBEC WILL HAVE TO KNOW FRENCH: LEGAULT - Economic migrants to Quebec will have to be able to speak and write French, Premier François Legault announced Thursday, saying he has a responsibility to protect the province’s francophone identity. Story here.

TRUDEAU, SINGH CAMPAIGN IN OXFORD BY-ELECTON - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh have both been campaigning this week in the southwestern Ontario riding of Oxford where one of four Canadian by-elections looms on June. 19. Story here from The Brantford Expositor.

MANY YOUNG PEOPLE “BRAINWASHED” AT UNIVERSITIES AND SCHOOLS: BERGEN - A leaked recording of former MP Candice Bergen, now the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives election campaign co-chair, saying many young people are being “brainwashed” at universities and schools has the provincial NDP questioning the government’s views on public education. Story here from CBC.

MP RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT CHINESE “INFLUENCE AND CONTROL” OF N.S. LOBSTER SUPPLY CHAIN - A Nova Scotia MP is raising concerns about growing Chinese “influence and control” on the province’s lobster industry supply chain, especially at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Story here from CBC.

CANADA BACKS UKRAINE APPLICATION TO JOIN TRANS-PACIFIC TRADE PACT - Canada backs Ukraine’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng said on Friday. Story here.

UNIVERSITY WAIVES TUITION FOR STUDENTS FROM AREA FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES - The University of Waterloo is waiving tuition fees for students from two First Nations communities on whose territory its campus is located, an initiative its president hopes will spread across the country as a step toward reconciliation. Story here.


TODAY IN THE COMMONS – The House of Commons is now on a break until May 29. It is the last recess before the final stretch of sittings ahead of the summer break, currently scheduled for June 23. The Senate is also on a week-long break.

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, in Windsor, Ont., announced $12.5-million in funding for a project to build a new warehouse and expand the shorewall at the Port of Windsor. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, in Quebec City, announced funding to support individuals and the health sector to adapt to climate change. Mr. Duclos also made an infrastructure announcement with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, announcing $41-million support for the Carrefour international Brian-Mulroney and the main building of the Institut nordique du Québec at Laval University – a complex for international studies. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, in Vancouver, announced measures to strengthen family reunification. Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, in Montague, PEI, made an infrastructure announcement. Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller, in Kitcisakik, Que., signed a master-level agreement with the Kitcisakik Anicinapek Council. Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan wrapped up a three-day visit to Mexico City to meet with government officials, unions and stakeholders on labour reforms being implemented under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. Filomena Tassi, minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, in Mississauga, announced support for a manufacturing company. Also, in Hamilton, Ms. Tassi, on behalf of Mr. Duclos, announced measures on dementia. Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, also minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, in Fredericton announced federal support for the New Brunswick tourism sector.

IN OTTAWA - Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is playing host to provincial, territorial and national Indigenous organizations to discuss collaboration on conservation, wildlife, and biodiversity. Governor-General Mary Simon presented the 2023 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards in Rideau Hall, and delivered remarks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Toronto, delivered a keynote address at the annual convention of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Mr. Trudeau then attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Rural and Northern Caucus meeting. Later, in Montreal, Mr. Trudeau attended the funeral of Marc Lalonde, who held several posts, including finance, in the cabinet of Mr. Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in London, Ont., made an announcement about affordable rentals, and, in Woodstock, visited Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese.

No schedule released for other party leaders.

On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Istanbul-based writer and photographer Adnan Khan talks about the issues at play in Sunday’s runoff election in Turkey. The outcome matters beyond Turkey’s borders. The country is an important – and often challenging – ally for Western countries. The Decibel is here.

CANADA ON WRONG TRACK TO LURE INVESTMENT: CEOS - More than six in 10 CEOs believe Canada is on the wrong track when it comes to being a place for business to invest, according to the first-of-its-kind survey of Canadian chief executives conducted by Nanos Research on behalf of The Globe’s Report on Business magazine. Story here.

Chris Turner (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Danielle Smith, indifferent to the climate crisis, is selling an alternate reality to Albertans: ”Ms. Smith’s reticence to dig deep on climate-change policy is understandable, because her track record on the issue spins like a greatest-hits playlist of the past 15 years in climate-denial talking points. There’s no need to speculate about her thoughts on the topic – she has spent much of her career broadcasting them. In recent weeks, Ms. Smith’s brazen disregard for basic facts and sound science – on everything from vaccines to Indigenous history – has unleashed a steady stream of negative headlines and called her basic judgment into question among many voters. The origin of this glib indifference to reality can be found in her long-standing, kneejerk-contrarian relationship with climate science.”

Ken Boessenkool (The Line) on why he won’t vote in the Alberta election: “I am entirely comfortable with Albertans making this choice for me – a choice they will make; and a choice I will live with. In part, this is because my love for Alberta includes a love for its people. Even, perhaps especially, people I disagree with. Notwithstanding my views on the current election, I have many friends on all sides of the political aisle. They are all Albertans. In part, this is because, as a conservative, I don’t believe that who is in our government, or what our government does, is actually the most important thing in my life.”

Naheed Nenshi (CTV) on why he is lending his vote in the Alberta election to Rachel Notley and the provincial NDP: ”Now Calgary must find the money to revamp our winter sports facilities, without an Olympics at the end. (Ironically, this was mainly a result of how much Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau couldn’t stand each other, and their staff could not abide giving the other a victory. I was in the room for some of this, and I always smile when I hear conservatives talk about the Notley-Trudeau alliance, having seen the truth).”

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s alliance with the Liberals: ”NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says his party will ‘use all our tools’ to push for an independent public inquiry into China’s election meddling. He should reach for the one closest at hand: scrapping his parliamentary alliance with the Liberals, as a clear warning to the government that it cannot continue to ignore the will of Parliament.”

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on why she won’t be blowing out candles on the RCMP’s birthday cake: “The historical and ongoing shortcomings of the RCMP demonstrate institutional and systemic patterns that have resulted in a denial of justice, Kimberly Murray, the federally appointed Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites, said in an interview Tuesday. ‘There is a significant lack of trust towards the RCMP in the context of investigations. Given their history, the RCMP simply might not be the right police service to investigate missing children and unmarked burials.’ The RCMP did not protect Indigenous children then and the broken relationship continues.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how David Johnston’s tragedy has become ours: ”It has been painful to watch Mr. Johnston, a heretofore model Canadian with an unimpeachable record, twist himself in knots trying to dissociate himself from Justin Trudeau, as if their previous encounters were mere coincidences that have no bearing on his personal feelings for the man. It is even worse to see him drag a former Supreme Court justice (who is also his friend) into the mix to try to back him up. Whether or not his relationship with Mr. Trudeau meets the legal definition of a conflict of interest, Mr. Johnston should understand that enough Canadians have serious reservations about his impartiality to undermine the very trust in our institutions that he himself has deemed essential to our democracy.”

Lloyd Axworthy, Allan Rock, Chantal Yelu Mulop (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada can make a decisive difference in ending violence by men against women: ”At the recent Global Citizen NOW conference in New York, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke of the need to reverse the backsliding of progress on women’s rights around the globe. He stressed the importance of women’s leadership, the equal roles women should have in society, and the urgent need for the world to recognize and listen to women. But one of the most pervasive examples of withering women’s rights – which are simply, of course, human rights – is the appalling incidence worldwide of violence by men against women and girls.”

Brian Lee Crowley (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how, inquiry or not, foreign interference in Canada’s elections is part of a new Cold War that we cannot hide from: ”Chinese election interference is a hot topic in Canada. Yet, while it is indeed a matter of enormous importance, its real significance can only be understood in the context of the new Cold War against the West. This conflict is one in which China and Russia have long been engaged, while here at home our bien-pensant elites have continuously warned against us adopting a supposedly outdated ‘Cold War mentality.’ The only ones who are out of date, however, are those whose understanding of recent history ends with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the ‘end of history,’ in which the values of liberal democracy and the West reign undisputed forever and ever.”

Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on how, thanks to Pierre Poilievre and Justin Trudeau, it’s unlikely we’ll ever unravel the election-meddling mess: ”The two men most likely to face off in the next federal election have so irrevocably politicized the process that, at this point, sober examination of the issue itself is no longer possible, the need for confidentiality notwithstanding. It will linger as a bitter aftertaste many Canadians would prefer to just wash away.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at [email protected]. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

Read at original source