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Canada MPs Vote to Oust Foreign Interference Tsar

David Johnston has called attacks on his integrity "baseless".

Canadian lawmakers are calling for the removal of a foreign interference tsar appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Parliament on Wednesday passed a non-binding motion for David Johnston to “step aside from his role” in a 174-150 vote.

Mr Johnston has been criticised for his ties to Mr Trudeau; the pair were called “ski buddies” by the opposition.

He said he had a “duty” to finish his work investigating election meddling.

“When I accepted the mandate to act as Independent Special Rapporteur, I did so with full knowledge of the fact that the work ahead would be neither straightforward nor uncontroversial,” he said in a statement.

“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.”

Mr Johnston, a former governor general of Canada, was appointed by Mr Trudeau in March as an independent special rapporteur to investigate allegations of Chinese interference in Canadian politics.

He was also given the authority to recommend a public inquiry – something that opposition parties are demanding.

He rejected calls for such an inquiry in an interim report into his work earlier this month, instead recommending a series of hearings into the meddling claims.

That ramped up scrutiny over his appointment, which was unpopular among political opposition parties, who said he was too close to the prime minister.

The pair have holiday homes near each other and the families have been known to ski together. Mr Johnston also worked with a charitable foundation named after former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s late father.

In April, leadership of the foundation resigned over a donation linked to Beijing.

Mr Johnston has called attacks on his integrity “baseless accusations”.

The motion on Wednesday was brought forward by New Democratic Party MP Jenny Kwan, who this week said Canada’s top spy agency had informed her she is being targeted by the Chinese government.

Intelligence reports leaked to Canadian media in recent months have detailed claims of Chinese meddling in the country’s last two federal elections, in 2019 and 2021.

China has repeatedly denied any interference in Canadian politics, and accused Canada of “slander and defamation” following its expulsion of a Chinese diplomat earlier this month.

The issue has strained already challenging diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Source: bbc