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Poilievre says he will work with other opposition parties to shape potential public inquiry

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Sunday he’ll work with his fellow opposition leaders to help shape a potential public inquiry into foreign meddling in Canadian elections — including who might lead it.

“I will work with our opposition colleagues to make sure that the person who fills that role is independent and unbiased in doing a thorough and public investigation,” Poilievre told reporters during a press conference Sunday.

He said the person leading a potential public inquiry would need to have no ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or the Trudeau foundation, no ties to foreign dictatorships and have a “track record on non-partisanship and neutrality.”

On Saturday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the government is open to a public inquiry — after the Liberals previously accepted David Johnston’s recommendation against holding one — but said opposition parties need to provide input on the inquiry’s leadership, terms of reference and how it would handle sensitive intelligence information.

Johnston resigned Friday after just over two months in his role as special rapporteur, the entirety of which was spent embroiled in controversy and criticism from the opposition because of his ties with the prime minister dating back to Trudeau’s childhood.

“Obviously Mr. Johnston’s decision to step aside is as a result of the toxic partisan climate that was created largely by the Conservative party, and other opposition parties as well,” LeBlanc said.

“It might be hard to ask someone to step into the snowblower that they passed over David Johnston.”

WATCH | Intergovernmental affairs minister discusses possibility of public inquiry:

poilievre says he will work with other opposition parties to shape potential public inquiry

LeBlanc challenges opposition to suggest path forward after Johnston resignation

1 day ago

Duration 2:17

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says he will work quickly to consult with opposition parties around forging a public process to investigate foreign interference in Canadian elections, including who might lead a public inquiry into the issue. His comments come a day after David Johnston resigned as special rapporteur looking into the foreign interference issue.

LeBlanc said the government wants to move quickly to work with opposition parties on the future of what he mostly referred to as a “public process” to investigate and review foreign interference. Johnston had intended to hold a series of public hearing on the issues, which differs from a potential public inquiry.

Poilievre also addressed the question of the timeline for a potential inquiry, saying it needs to be done quickly and ahead of the next election. Some observers have noted that public inquiries tend to be both long and expensive.

“[Trudeau] needs to call it right away, he needs to get someone who’s job-ready, and we need to have terms of reference that have tight timelines, to have the hearings occur as quickly as possible and get all the truth on the table before the next election happens,” Poilievre said Sunday.

“The last thing we need is for the truth to continue to be hidden in the next election, so there’s no accountability, but worse yet there could once again be foreign interference in the next election.”

Plans to put forward legislation on prisons

Also on Sunday, Poilievre announced that one of his MPs, Tony Baldinelli, would be putting forward a private member’s bill to change rules around the incarceration of dangerous offenders and those convicted of multiple first-degree murders.

The move is meant to address a situation now unfolding with Paul Bernardo. The serial rapist and murderer was transferred last week from the maximum security Millhaven Institution in Ontario to La Macaza Institution in Quebec, a medium security facility about 200 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

Poilievre said a killer like Bernardo should never be released from maximum security prison.

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