The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that the federal government intends to appoint the Right Honourable David Johnston as Independent Special Rapporteur, a new role as part of a suite of measures to help combat foreign interference and strengthen confidence in our federal electoral process and democratic institutions. This follows consultations with all parties in the House of Commons.
Mr. Johnston is an accomplished Canadian public servant and law professor. He served as the 28th Governor General of Canada from 2010 to 2017, an important role in Canada’s democracy.
Prior to his installation as Governor General, Mr. Johnston was a professor of law for 45 years. He has spoken and written extensively on Canada’s democratic institutions and the value of trust. Mr. Johnston has chaired or served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees and has served on the boards of more than a dozen public companies. In 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Mr. Johnston would serve as a special advisor, drafting the terms of reference for a public inquiry into the Airbus affair, which became the Oliphant Commission. He is currently serving as the Leaders’ Debates Commissioner, contributing actively to our democracy, a role from which he will step down to serve as Independent Special Rapporteur.
In this new role, Mr. Johnston will have a wide mandate to look into foreign interference in the last two federal general elections and make expert recommendations on how to further protect our democracy and uphold Canadians’ confidence in it. The Government of Canada will comply with and implement his public recommendations, which could include a formal inquiry, a judicial review, or another independent review process. We will be working with Mr. Johnston to finalize his mandate in the coming days, and it will be made public.
Building on the work of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) and the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), both of which are also reviewing foreign interference in the last two elections, as well as other ongoing processes, Mr. Johnston will identify any remaining gaps or areas requiring further attention to protect the integrity of Canada’s democracy.