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Further intel on interference rapporteur Johnston's mandate made public, including per diem

Additional intel on what foreign interference special rapporteur David Johnston will be empowered to dig into and access in terms of secret documents has been made public, as has his per diem for what's being described as a "part-time" role.

In a pair of Order in Council releases issued this week, the federal government has offered additional details about what Johnston is being mandated to investigate, and to what degree he’ll be able to access secret cabinet documents.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already announced that the former governor general would have to present an initial report by May 23 advising on whether a public inquiry or other "mechanisms or transparent processes" are necessary. 

Then, up until Oct. 31, he is to release reports "on a rolling basis" on issues related to shoring up Canada's democracy, as they arise.

Here is everything we now know about what Johnston is being asked to look into, and how much he's set to be paid.


As the independent rapporteur on the matter, Johnston is being asked to:

  • Assess the "extent and impact of foreign interference" in Canada’s electoral processes, including examining government information about, and actions in response to, the threat of interference historically, as well as specifically in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections;
  • Build on the work being undertaken by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) to raise any "outstanding issues… that need to be addressed";
  • And, "identify innovative approaches and improvements in the way public agencies work together to combat foreign interference in our electoral processes" including "changes in the institutional design and co-ordination of government resources used to defend against or otherwise deal with that interference."

Through this work, Johnston is to determine:

  • What findings and recommendations to address electoral interference were made by CSIS, the Privy Council Office (PCO) and other relevant agencies or officials;
  • What was communicated about foreign interference in electoral processes to Trudeau and his office, as well as other cabinet ministers and their offices;
  • What recommendations were made by agencies and officials to address foreign interference in electoral processes; and
  • What steps were taken by the prime minister and his office, cabinet ministers, and or federal departments and agencies "to defend against or otherwise deal with foreign interference in electoral processes."


According to one of the Order in Council documents, Johnston is being employed "on a part-time basis" between March 15 and December 12. 

It states that his per diem pay is "within the range" of $1,400 to $1,600.

In line with federal policy, Johnston will also be able to expense:

  • Travel and living expenses within Canada if he hits the road as part of his work;
  • The cost of expert staff as required; and
  • Any "other reasonable expenses as necessary" to complete his assignment.


As the Prime Minister's Office has already confirmed, Johnston will be given access to "national security intelligence resources, including classified or unclassified records, documents and personnel."

This scope of access is expanded on in the new documents, indicating that Johnston can:

  • Review any relevant records including documents protected by cabinet confidence;
  • Work with any recognized political party in the House of Commons to learn how information flowed and what actions were taken;
  • Speak to the Commissioner of Canada Elections and the Chairs of national security oversight bodies NSICOP and NSIRA about their work;
  • Engage with the PCO, the Prime Minister's Office, CSIS, the RCMP, the Communications Security Establishment and members of the Security and Intelligence Threats to Election Task Force (SITE) or the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol panel (CEIPP) to understand past recommendations and steps taken;
  • Receive written submissions from interested persons.


Tapping Johnston to provide the prime minister "independent advice" and make "expert recommendations" was done as part of a suite of federal measures trying to assuage Canadians' concerns about China's interference in the last two federal elections. 

In the preamble to outlining Johnston's access to resources and mandate, the Order in Council states that the federal government "recognizes the cardinal importance of enhancing Canadians’ trust and confidence in their democracy by ensuring the integrity of Canada’s electoral processes and democratic institutions."

The preamble also notes there "is a desire to respond to the evolving threat posed by foreign interference through a strengthened approach."

The government is committing to sharing any and all reports Johnston produces with the leader of every recognized party in the House of Commons, and with Canadians "in a timely manner" and will "respond publicly to any recommendations made in those reports within a reasonable time."

Amid the flurry of partisan fury over his appointment, Johnston issued a statement last month saying he was "privileged to accept the appointment."

"Any attempts at undermining our democracy are serious matters and it is essential that we take action to protect our institutions and uphold Canadians’ confidence in our democracy," Johnston said.

With files from CTV National News Senior Political Correspondent Glen McGregor 



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