(Bloomberg) -- David Johnston, who was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to investigate allegations of foreign interference in Canada’s democracy, has stepped down from the role.
Trudeau selected Johnston to be a so-called “special rapporteur” after media reports that Canada’s intelligence services had found evidence of Chinese state meddling in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections, which Trudeau’s Liberal Party won.
Last month, Johnston ruled that the matter didn’t need a formal public inquiry. He concluded that China had attempted to interfere in Canada’s democracy but that Trudeau’s government did not knowingly ignore intelligence on it.
But opposition lawmakers seized upon Johnston’s personal ties with the prime minister, including that the pair had spent time together when Trudeau and his brothers were children. They passed a motion in Canada’s House of Commons calling on Johnston to step down.
“When I undertook the task of Independent Special Rapporteur on Foreign Interference, my objective was to help build trust in our democratic institutions. I have concluded that, given the highly partisan atmosphere around my appointment and work, my leadership has had the opposite effect,” Johnston said in his resignation letter.
Johnston had said a full public inquiry would not be useful because the amount of classified material involved would require much of the testimony to take place in secret. He had instead planned to hold hearings involving experts, government officials and members of diaspora communities.
Johnston was formerly Canada’s governor general, the monarchy’s official representative in the country.
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