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David Johnston, special rapporteur on foreign interference, holds a press conference about his findings and recommendations, in Ottawa, on May 23.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

David Johnston’s report on Chinese foreign interference has been savaged by opposition politicians for its flaws. So why not fix them?

The biggest one, in the eyes of the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois, and many others, is that it relies so heavily on trust in Mr. Johnston. If relying on Mr. Johnston is a flaw, it shouldn’t be so hard to remedy.

A day after he delivered his report, it was clear that Mr. Johnston’s role cannot fulfill its chief purposes, which are to shed light on whether the federal government mishandled the threat of Chinese interference and also bolster trust in Canada’s democracy.

From the start, Mr. Johnston’s impartiality was under attack. And although he and the prime minister who appointed him both deemed that unfair, any conclusion he came to other than calling for an inquiry was going to be so contested that it would, in effect, settle nothing.

Mr. Johnston’s proposal to have opposition leaders sworn to secrecy to read the secret material behind his findings was rejected by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet, who on Wednesday called it a “dumb trap” that would gag him from speaking about the issues.

Mr. Blanchet suggested that Parliament name someone else, probably a judge, to examine the issues and set a mandate for an inquiry. “Somebody has to make wise and careful decisions about which documents can be made public or not. It cannot be [Mr. Johnston]. It cannot be the Prime Minister’s Office, either.”

It’s usually the government, not Parliament, that calls an inquiry, acting under existing legislation, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he won’t call one – accepting Mr. Johnston’s recommendation.

The Prime Minister could take up part of Mr. Blanchet’s suggestion and appoint somebody else, proposed by all three opposition parties (and vetted for security clearance), to take over Mr. Johnston’s current job.

Mr. Johnston indicated Tuesday that he still intends to hold public hearings in the second part of his mandate on the policy and systemic issues related to foreign interference, from the effect on Chinese diaspora communities to ensuring intelligence reports get to the right people in senior levels of government.

But there’s no overwhelming reason why Mr. Johnston has to do all that. He can point to his legal training and experience, which is real, but presumably there are other capable Canadians.

He has spent two months on the case already, but since his work hasn’t settled matters, a new person can step in.

That person could also check Mr. Johnston’s work so far on all the factual matters about what happened with Chinese interference and whether the government did enough – the very things about which Mr. Johnston’s critics doubted his word.

And yes, that person can also weigh in on whether an inquiry is feasible.

Opinion: I met with David Johnston for his report – here’s what happened

Mr. Johnston’s argument against holding a public inquiry was that he had to rely on highly sensitive intelligence that had to be kept secret, and that an inquiry commissioner would be forced to do the same.

“This would be unsatisfying, just as my process is unsatisfying, because it could not be done in public,” Mr. Johnston wrote in his report. “But two unsatisfying processes are not going to satisfy.”

But that’s not completely true. In this case, two unsatisfying processes could be a lot more satisfying. Or, at least, they could satisfy more people.

Those who doubt Mr. Johnston’s conclusion would have to give it more credence if a second, opposition-nominated independent person ended up with the same recommendation. Or, that person might set out some thoughtful ways to provide some additional transparency in an inquiry.

And hey, if the person taking over Mr. Johnston’s role is an eminent former judge, they could move seamlessly into leading the inquiry as commissioner.

Sure, all that could just be another route to an inquiry that Mr. Trudeau could have called in the first place.

But the Prime Minister insisted he needed the advice of an “eminent Canadian” on the process to investigate and give Canadians some answers. The choice of Mr. Johnston was contested so heavily that the questions could never end with him.

If Mr. Trudeau isn’t willing to call an inquiry now, he can accept the appointment of a second eminent Canadian who can. There’s already no doubt Mr. Johnston’s report won’t be satisfying enough.

The Decibel: Why there won’t be a public inquiry into Chinese interference