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The Northern Ontario connection to the election meddling probe

David Johnston grew up on Sault Ste. Marie’s Woodward Avenue
Johnston David
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed David Johnston, 81, to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of election meddling. Johnson was born in Sudbury and raised in Sault Ste. Marie.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed former Saultite David Johnston, 81, to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of election meddling.

Johnston, who served as Canada's Governor General from 2010 to 2017, was born in Sudbury and attended Sault Collegiate Institute, where he quarterbacked an Ontario championship-winning football team.

Last week, Trudeau said he was planning to name an "eminent" Canadian as a special rapporteur on election interference, who will have "a wide mandate and make expert recommendations on combating interference and strengthening our democracy."

"Canadians need to have confidence in our electoral system, and in our democracy," Trudeau said Wednesday.

"As independent special rapporteur, David Johnston brings integrity and a wealth of experience and skills, and I am confident that he will conduct an impartial review to ensure all necessary steps are being taken to keep our democracy safe and uphold and strengthen confidence in it," the prime minister said.

In a news release, Trudeau's office said Johnston's new role will be "part of a suite of measures to help combat foreign interference and strengthen confidence in our federal electoral process and democratic institutions. This follows consultations with all parties in the House of Commons."

Before becoming Canada's 28th Governor General, Johnston was a law professor for 45 years.

Johnston's father had a hardware store in Sault Ste. Marie.

The future Governor General grew up on Woodward Avenue.

He met his future wife, Sharon Downey, at age 13.

She grew up on Summit Avenue.

"Davey Johnston was brilliant in school and also in sports, winning championships on a hockey team that also included future Hall-of-Famers Phil and Tony Esposito, as well as former NHL defenceman and general manager Lou Nanne, who remains a close friend," the Globe and Mail's Roy MacGregor wrote in a retrospective article about his career.

Johnston dreamed of playing in the NHL and scout Jimmy Skinner of Hamilton Red Wings once paid a visit to his family.

"When the scout conceded that only a couple of the boys were completing high school while they played and that he thought there was a university in the city, but couldn't name it, Mr. Johnston's mother handed the visitor his hat rather than a teacup," MacGregor wrote.

"I'm sure you have other people to see this evening," Johnston's mother told him as she escorted him to the door.

In his new role, David Johnston will look into allegations that China interfered in Canada's last two federal elections.

"The government of Canada will comply with and implement his public recommendations, which could include a formal inquiry, a judicial review, or another independent review process," the prime minister's office said today.

"We will be working with Mr. Johnston to finalize his mandate in the coming days, and it will be made public."


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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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