EDITORIAL – Johnston is right – there shouldn’t be a public inquiry on China

David Johnston. (Image: Rideau Hall)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

OF COURSE — let me repeat, of course — there should not be a public inquiry into China’s interference in Canada’s elections.

Judging by public and political reaction over the past two days, I may be the only everyday Canadian who agrees with former governor-general David Johnston on that score.

Opposition leaders — especially the ever-obnoxious Pierre Poilievre of the Conservatives — have been working themselves into a lather doubling down on their insistence that a public inquiry is an absolute necessity, and attacking Johnston’s credibility.

Maybe they should read Johnson’s report. He clearly states the irrefutable reasons a public inquiry, which, by the way, would be long and every expensive, would be pointless.

Classified documents are, by definition, secret, for the security of the nation.
“It would be highly unusual,” he says, “to have a public inquiry that would be conducted almost entirely in camera.”

He further explains: “A public inquiry would not be, in any material way, public. A commissioner would be in the exact same position as I am in: reviewing material in private, speaking to witnesses in private, and ultimately providing the public with conclusions that do not cite much by way of specific evidence.”

Johnston’s report recommends opposition leaders seek top secret security clearances so they can review confidential documents and gain an understanding of the entire file. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already followed that up with an invitation, but the party leaders have refused, preferring, in Johnston’s words, to maintain a “veil of ignorance.”

Trudeau, sadly, is the architect of the negative response to Johnston’s work. Johnston, a man of high integrity and impeccable service to the country, was nevertheless the wrong man for the job.

By choosing someone who could be attacked based on previous connections to the Trudeau family, he handed opposition leaders a perfect opportunity to attack the credibility of the report. And, sadly, of its author.

But that doesn’t alter the validity of Johnson’s conclusions.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired daily newspaper editor. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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