Opposition MPs have voted in favour of a motion put forward by the NDP for David Johnston to step aside as special rapporteur investigating foreign interference, but it will likely have little impact due to it being non-binding.
The final vote was 174-150, with Liberal MPs voting against the motion.
In explaining the reasoning behind the motion earlier this week, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said there was a “clear apprehension of bias at this point” about Johnston and his connections to both the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family.
“The appearance of bias is so high that it erodes the work that the special rapporteur can do,” he told reporters on Monday.
The motion also calls on the government to launch a public inquiry into foreign interference, despite Johnston recently stating such an inquiry is not needed.
Johnston said much of the intelligence an inquiry would look at could not be made public, however, all opposition parties remain firm one is needed.
In response to Wednesday’s vote, Johnston said he would not be leaving his role.
“I deeply respect the right of the House of Commons to express its opinion about my work going forward but my mandate comes from the government,” he wrote in a statement. “I have a duty to pursue that work until my mandate is completed.”
Following the vote, Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer said the party wants Singh to use the power in his governance deal with the Liberals to get a public inquiry. He added the special rapporteur was a “phony job.”
“This has been a sham of a process from start to finish,” Scheer said. “Justin Trudeau’s responses today and throughout the last few weeks just show he’s done nothing about the warnings he’s received from his security officials and he’s going to do nothing now to bring truth to light.”
Scheer said if Johnston does not step aside and the government does not ask him to despite all opposition parties voting for it to occur, it shows Trudeau “doesn’t actually value Parliament.”
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet also spoke ahead of the vote, and said Trudeau was “becoming a threat to democracy.”
“He’s refusing to make public information which (is) absolutely necessary for the population to make choices when it comes to an election,” he told reporters. “He is creating a situation in which we will face the next election with the same level of threat by a foreign power into our democracy without anything having been done against it.”
The vote on the motion comes after NDP MP Jenny Kwan confirmed she had been warned by CSIS that she has been a target of foreign interference by China for years.
The vote on the motion comes after Vancouver East NDP MP Jenny Kwan confirmed she had been warned by CSIS that she has been a target of foreign interference by China for years.