David Johnston will testify before Parliamentary committee as resignation calls continue

Click to play video: 'Trudeau continues to stand by David Johnston despite calls that he step down'
Trudeau continues to stand by David Johnston despite calls that he step down
WATCH - Trudeau continues to stand by David Johnston despite calls that he step down – Jun 2, 2023

David Johnston is set to appear at a House of Commons committee investigating claims of foreign interference as calls continue for his resignation as the government’s special rapporteur.

The 81-year-old former governor general will be at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC) for three hours on Tuesday, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Johnston, who was named special rapporteur by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to investigate claims of foreign interference, has been under scrutiny over reported ties to Trudeau and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

He has faced renewed scrutiny from opposition MPs since releasing his interim report last month, which found an independent public inquiry — a forum opposition MPs have been seeking for month to investigate the claims — was not warranted.

Click to play video: 'Election over foreign interference would be ‘self-serving’: NDP'
Election over foreign interference would be ‘self-serving’: NDP

Last Wednesday, opposition MPs voted in favour of a non-binding NDP motion for Johnston to step aside as special rapporteur. The final vote was 174-150, with Liberal MPs voting against the motion.

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In explaining the reasoning behind the motion, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said there was a “clear apprehension of bias at this point” about Johnston and his connections to both the Trudeau Foundation and the Trudeau family.

“The appearance of bias is so high that it erodes the work that the special rapporteur can do,” he told reporters last Monday.

In response to the vote, Johnston said he would not be leaving his role.

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“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.”

Opposition MPs sitting on the PROC committee last month introduced a motion to have Johnston appear before the panel.

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PROC chair and Liberal MP Bardish Chagger said during the May 25 meeting that Johnston had not shown any reluctance to appear before PROC and had informed the committee he would be available on June 6.

Click to play video: 'Singh concered about the ‘appearance of bias’ with David Johnston'
Singh concered about the ‘appearance of bias’ with David Johnston

The committee’s opposition MPs wrote in a letter that Johnston must “answer” as to why he recommends against a public inquiry.

“David Johnston’s decision is a slap in the face to diaspora groups who are subject to abuse and intimidated by hostile foreign governments and all Canadians rightly concerned about foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections and future elections,” the letter read.

“David Johnston must come before committee and answer for this decision at the earliest opportunity.”

— with files from Global News’ Sean Previl


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