ontario news watch

Bloc joins Conservatives in rejecting Johnston report briefing on election meddling

OTTAWA — Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is joining Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre in refusing to take a look at secret information that led a watchdog to recommend against a public inquiry into allegations of foreign interference. 

Blanchet told reporters in Ottawa today that the briefing is “a dumb trap,” saying it is a way for the Liberal government to smooth the issue over by bringing opposition leaders into the loop — then restricting what they can say about what they learned.

Special rapporteur David Johnston recommended the government provide the necessary security clearances for other leaders to have a full look at his first report released Tuesday, including a confidential annex of materials he used to arrive at his conclusions. 

The former governor general said in the report that the intelligence he reviewed must be kept secret, and while he understands opposition leaders do not want to be constrained by security laws, the issue is too important for potential future leaders of the country to intentionally remain ignorant.

Poilievre said he has no intention of taking part and he does not want to be muzzled, instead vowing to call a public inquiry if Conservatives form the next government. 

The Tory leader said in Toronto today that a judge with experience handling national security cases should be the one to decide what information needs to remain secret and what could be made public if an inquiry were called. 

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has also said he believes a public inquiry is needed, but told reporters Tuesday that he intends to obtain the necessary security clearances to see Johnston’s full report.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2023. 

The Canadian Press