Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth!

So David Johnston has released his initial report to say a "public inquiry" into China China China would be neither public nor informative:
My mandate for my first report is to determine whether any further public process is required. My short answer is yes. I plan to hold a series of public hearings with Canadians (particularly from affected communities), government officials (including retired officials), knowledgeable experts, and other interested parties to discuss foreign interference, its effects on diaspora communities, and policy and governance improvements that could be made to improve the government’s response to it. I hope and believe that these public hearings will continue to shine a spotlight on the problem of foreign interference, provide public education about the threat of foreign interference, and provide a better foundation of information which I can use to make policy and governance recommendations for improvement. I also hope these hearings will accelerate government policy development to address foreign interference, stressing both the importance and urgency of action.
These hearings will not focus on “who knew what and what did they do about it.” I have examined these issues, drawn conclusions, and provided as much information as possible to the public, as well as in a confidential annex to be viewed by the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet (as well as officials or Opposition Leaders with the requisite security clearance). I also recommend the Prime Minister refer my report, including the confidential annex, to the chairs of NSICOP and NSIRA so those bodies can review my conclusions and advise the Prime Minister, Parliament and the public if they disagree.
I carefully considered whether an inquiry under the Inquiries Act could help enhance public trust in our electoral process, over and above the work I have done. When I was first appointed, my preliminary view was that I was very likely to recommend a Public Inquiry. But my conclusion is that, in light of the material and information that would lie at the heart of any inquiry, it could not be done in public. Rather, a “public inquiry” would necessarily be done in private and largely replicate the process I have undergone, and not advance the goals of transparency or trust any further than I have taken them and raise expectations that will ultimately be disappointed.
Sounds pretty good, really. But cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth today as Ottawa reporters will be denied stories and commentary until Johnston's public hearings begin this fall.
    Pierre Poilievre continues to ragefarm, spitting gratitous insults about Johnston being Trudeau's "ski-buddy" (which happened once, when Trudeau was 12) The only leadership PP is showing today is leading his followers to smear Johnston: Zing! Pow! And I thought this was a useful perspective - I am seeing this AFP story in news outlets around the world: I found a couple of more thoughtful wailing and gnashing commentaries on substacks tonight, too. In today's edition of Bug Eyed and Shamless, Justin Ling writes about Unravelling Chinese meddling In summary, he concludes:
...this whole ordeal happened because of this culture of secrecy. And it has been a long and painful process.
And even if the news reports got plenty of specifics wrong, the thrust of the story is true: China ran a much more sustained and serious meddling operation in Canada than the public, or the rest of the world, ever knew.
Over at The Line, Matt Gurney compares the Roulean and Johnston reports - Matt Gurney: The Johnston report is one of the most depressing things I've ever read -- and concludes
...One of Justice Rouleau's most staggering conclusions in the POEC report is that what gave the convoyers the advantage — they held the capital for three weeks, recall — was that many of them had a professional background that involved at least some real-world experience in logistics and event planning and management. The federal government, in contrast, had none of that. As I wrote in my column then, "If your job requires you to manage a bunch of projects at the same time and coordinate different teams, especially if you mix in a bit of expertise in event planning and fleet operations, you are apparently probably capable of overthrowing the Canadian state."
Though Johnston was fairly polite and understated in making his case, this is broadly the version of things he is sketching out for us. Trudeau isn't compromised or corrupt, he's just atop a government that's so borked that the prime minister and his government couldn't have done any better. The machine is just too broken.
But at least here is some good news: There is the usual chatter about whether the NDP will use the Johnston report as a reason to withdraw from their confidence agreement now instead of waiting another two years. In his Scrimshaw Unscripted column today, Evan Scrimshaw explores the possibility of a federal election - Federal Election 2023 A Delusional Dream - calling the idea that the NDP could benefit from a federal election this year as "the myth that won't die".  They can't win, even if they pick up a few seats, but they could lose the whole NDP legislative agenda (national day care, dental care, etc) :
...the NDP forcing an election in 2023 would be the single stupidest decision in Canadian politics of my life and risk everything they claim to care about for no discernible policy upside, but hey, maybe they’re stupid enough to do it. I mean, they’re not, but let’s let Conservatives dream anyways.
Of course, Jack Layton rolled this dice in 2005 and it cost us the Kelowna Accords and national day care. I hope Singh remembers.
And on a lighter note, this:


rumleyfips said...

Pretty boring.

Cooper and Fife and OToole and PP lied but they all have form and work for pretty disreputable organizations. No surprises.

PP was visibly uncomfortabe when questioed and scurried away quickly. Sihgn rode that folding bike backwards as fast as lis little legs would go.They both reailise that banging this drum is now a loser for them.

There were no threats to anyone and no disrupion of any election , but we knew that weeks ago. No surprises.

Someone 30 miles away is my neighbor. That did surprise me.

When Johnston took questions he displayed complete mastry of the file while speaking without notes.

Winners : Chung,Dong,Johnston.No surprises.

Losers : Cooper and Global, Fife and the Globe, PP, Jasmeed. No surprises.

Cathie from Canada said...

Thanks -- I hadn't seen some of the interviews as they were happening, but Twitter was pretty negative on PP too, so I had the impression he did very poorly. The smearing of Johnston was very bad on Con twitter too.