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Special rapporteur David Johnston cuts ties with crisis management firm Navigator

Canada's special rapporteur on foreign interference has ended ties with crisis communications firm Navigator, his office confirmed on Thursday.

In a previous statement, a spokesperson for David Johnston told CTV News that Navigator was hired at the start of Johnston's mandate "to provide communications advice and support."

On Thursday, Johnston’s office confirmed in an email that the special rapporteur has since cut ties with the Toronto-based public relations, lobbying and crisis management firm.

“While Navigator has not played any role in deciding whom to interview, or assisting with his assessments of intelligence … , Mr. Johnston has decided, under the circumstances, it would be best to end their engagement with the ISR team,” spokesperson Valérie Gervais said.

“Mr. Johnston thanks Navigator for the extensive support they have provided to this point.”

Johnston's move to hire Navigator raised questions in recent days about how much the firm's services would be costing taxpayers. Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner was one such critic, who said in a tweet that it must have been "one hella big $ contract."

Navigator’s past clients have included Hockey Canada, disgraced former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi and former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly, who hired the firm during the Freedom Convoy in early 2022 to help with messaging while facing criticism for how he handled the weeks-long protest.

Johnston served as Canada's governor general from 2010 to 2017 after being appointed by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He was appointed to the special rapporteur role in March to investigate allegations of Chinese efforts to influence Canadian elections.

With files from’s Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello and Daniel Otis



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