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Liberal Candidate, MP, Won Key Toronto Riding With Aid of Chinese Consulate, Whistleblowers Say

Intelligence agency sources told Global News Han Dong had allegedly met with officials from the CCP's United Front Work Department in New York State.
Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: February 27, 2023
Whistleblowers say Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party elected a nominee who was supported by the Chinese Communist Party's Toronto Consulate
Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China. (Image: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

An Ontario politician who rose through the ranks from provincial politics to become a federal Member of Parliament won the federal Liberal Party nomination in a crucial Toronto riding with the blessing of the Toronto Chinese Consulate, according to whistleblowers. 

The story further alleges that when Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), approached the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau days before the 2021 General Election about its two-year investigation into the candidate’s conflict of interest, Trudeau’s Party nonetheless allowed the man to continue to run for office.

Network media outlet Global News revealed the exclusive story in Feb. 24 reporting based on testimony and documents provided from sources who spoke “on the condition of anonymity, which they requested because they risk prosecution under the Security of Information Act.”

‘Harder than winning a general election’

The MP in question is Han Dong, and the case revolves around the Liberal Party nomination process for the crucial Don Valley North riding in Toronto in 2019. 

The outlet explained the significance of being appointed the Liberal candidate in the area, “Scoring the Liberal nomination in Don Valley North has been harder than winning a general election recently.”

In Canada’s electoral system, voters do not vote directly for the country’s leader. Instead, eligible voters cast their ballots for local Parliamentary candidates. The Party that wins the most seats has its leader become Prime Minister of Canada.

Conversely, candidates who campaign under the Party of a reigning or populist Prime Minister often easily win the seat in their ridings during the general election.

According to data published by Elections Canada, Han Dong won the Don Valley North riding and its 74,038 eligible voters for the Liberal Party with 22,067 votes out of 40,890 cast, defeating Conservative Party candidate Sabrina Zuniga by a landslide.

Zuniga came in second, logging 12,098 ballots.

A chosen successor

Dong’s rise to power was peculiar because, sources from intelligence agencies told Global, that “instead of leaning on his connections as a former MPP [Member of Provincial Parliament],” the candidate “had help from the Chinese Consulate in Toronto to become the 2019 Liberal candidate in the riding.”

Global explained that former Liberal MP of the riding, Geng Tan, fell out of favor with the Toronto Chinese Consulate and was replaced by Dong after finding himself enmeshed in controversy.

A “national security official aware” of the CSIS investigation told reporters that “the Consulate was not pleased with Geng Tan’s performance.”

Information explained that although Tan announced in December 2018 that he would run for reelection and continued to campaign under the Liberal Party banner until April 2019, the candidate became plagued by scandals starting in May.

Global said that rumors in the form of a media report that Tan had been embroiled in an extra-marital affair began to spread starting on the CCP’s social credit messaging app Wechat in May.

Just eight days later, the story was published in a second Chinese-language newspaper.

Within one month’s time, Tan announced he would not be running for re-election. Global stated that Postmedia node National Post nonetheless published a story about the scandal for the English-language community to read.

New York United Front

The Global News report stated that Dong is one of the 11 federal candidates under investigation by CSIS for allegedly participating in a Chinese state-sanctioned election interference scheme first reported by the outlet in November 2022.

Sources told Global that the spy agency “relied on surveillance and wiretap evidence as well as human-source reporting” in coming to its conclusions.

Global said that when CSIS approached Trudeau’s office about the results of their investigation, they asked the campaign to rescind Dong’s candidacy because he “was considered a close friend of the Toronto Consulate.”

The sources further alleged that Dong was in frequent contact with the Toronto Consulate.

But the most eyebrow-raising aspect of the reporting was a portion which alleged that both sources and documents had revealed Dong enjoyed an “alleged meeting with a senior official from Beijing’s United Front Work Department in New York state.”

The United Front Work Department is an official arm of the CCP that works overseas to co-opt and convince politicians, businesses, and organizations to import policies and operations favorable to the regime.

Concrete support for Dong from China’s communist authorities came in the form of having “Chinese international students with fake addresses” allegedly bussed into Don Valley North to vote for Dong during the Liberal Party nomination process.

Additionally, two buses of Chinese seniors were also allegedly delivered to add votes for Dong.

“Global News has not confirmed the CSIS allegations in this story,” the outlet disclaimed.

Authors also paraphrased their intelligence agency sources as declaring their motivation for stepping forward was because “they believe Canadians need to know how deeply endangered future elections are and that the citizens most impacted are Chinese Canadians, many of whom fear the power of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s growing influence and security apparatus in Canada.”

CSIS declined to comment on the specific allegations when Global inquired, only providing a boilerplate response.

Standing with Dong

On Feb. 27, the prime minister stood fast with Dong in comments to the press on the allegations, “I want to make everyone understand fully that Han Dong is an outstanding member of our team and suggestions that he is somehow not loyal to Canada should not be entertained,” Global News reported Trudeau as stating in a secondary article.

Same-day reporting by CTV News quoted Trudeau as dismissing the whistleblower reports: “Suggestions we’ve seen in the media, that CSIS would somehow say, ‘No, this person can’t run or that person can’t run,’ is not just false, it’s actually damaging to people’s confidence in our democratic and political institutions.”

In a Feb. 27 statement published by MP Dong on Twitter, he stated that, “All the procedures and processes related to my campaign and political career have been continually, transparently, and publicly reported as required.”

“My nomination and campaign teams have found no indication of any irregularities or compliance issues regarding my candidacy or election,” Dong added.

And his statements are likely true, Global points out in its original article. It noted a 2020 CSIS report on potential foreign election interference had lamented that “individuals who are not Canadian citizens, and therefore cannot vote in elections at any level of government in Canada — can still vote in a party nomination process as long as they are party members.”

The document added that because “gaining a party’s nomination in a riding that has long supported that party is akin to winning the subsequent election” that entities such as the CCP “exploit this loophole to engage in Foreign Interference that target specific candidates in particular electoral ridings.”

Allegations of this nature are the second batch to emerge in February.

Earlier in the month, business-focused left wing outlet The Globe and Mail reported on a similar campaign of interference in the Vancouver area that chronicled how the city’s Chinese Consulate had worked to not only ensure that the Liberals defeated the Conservatives, but that Trudeau’s party was limited to a minority government.

A CSIS document viewed by The Globe for the article quoted an unidentified consular official as stating, “The Liberal Party of Canada is becoming the only party that the PRC can support.”

“The CSIS documents reveal that Chinese diplomats and their proxies, including some members of the Chinese-language media, were instructed to press home that the Conservative Party was too critical of China and that, if elected, it would follow the lead of former U.S. president Donald Trump and ban Chinese students from certain universities or education programs,” the article stated.