On the evening of March 22, Canadian Liberal Member of Parliament, Han Dong resigned from the Liberal caucus following a bombshell report by Canadian media outfit Global News, alleging that Dong, in a February 2021 conversation with China’s consul general in Toronto, told the consulate to delay releasing two Canadian citizens — known as the “Two Michaels” — from a Chinese prison because it could possibly benefit the opposing Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) in the 2021 Canadian federal election.
“Liberal MP Han Dong, who is at the centre of Chinese influence allegations, privately advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, according to two separate national security sources,” Global News reported.
Dong, denies the allegations and in his resignation speech addressed both Kovrig and Spavor directly saying, “The allegations made against me are as false as the ones made against you.”
It’s reported that Dong may have benefited from Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interference to win his seat representing the Liberal stronghold of Don Valley North in Toronto in the 2021 election prompting Justin Trudeau’s government to appoint a “special rapporteur” to investigate the matter. Trudeau appointed David Johnston to the position who served as Canada’s Governor General from 2010 until 2017, and who Trudeau has referred to in the past as a close personal friend.
Following the slew of allegations Dong’s voting record in the House of Commons has come under scrutiny, particularly as it relates to China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Following Dong’s election in 2019 the House of Commons held two votes in connection to the Uyghur genocide in China, votes Dong was not present for.
However, voting on matters directly before and preceding the motions on Uyghur genocide Dong was present, Canada’s National Post reported.
He was present for a vote on a motion concerning the government’s childcare legislation before the Uyghur genocide vote, and voted in favor of a bill that aimed to change the term “child pornography” in the criminal code to “child sexual abuse and exploitation material” immediately following a vote condemning Uyghur genocide in China.
In addition, on May 16, 2022, Dong voted against a motion put forward by Conservative MP Michael D. Chong, which aimed to establish a special committee “with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-People’s Republic of China relationship, including but not limited to diplomatic, consular, legal, security and economic relations.”
Chong’s motion passed with the support of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Québécois despite every Liberal party member present for the motion, including Dong, voting against.
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CCP influence on Canadian elections
Dong is but one of nearly a dozen Liberal candidates that are alleged to have benefited from the CCP’s influence in recent federal elections.
In Mid-February, the Globe and Mail reported that “China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 federal election campaign as Chinese diplomats and their proxies backed the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals – but only to another minority government – and worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be unfriendly to Beijing.”
The interference was uncovered by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and was reported following a leak of documents on the matter to The Globe and Mail.
A Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee is currently looking into the allegations that China interfered in Canada’s 2019 election campaign, supporting 11 candidates, most of them Liberal, in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
The documents leaked by CSIS say that CCP leadership in Beijing was “pressuring its consulates to create strategies to leverage politically [active] Chinese community members and associations within Canadian society.”
According to The Globe and Mail, the classified reports revealed that China’s former consul-general in Vancouver, Tong Xiaoling, bragged in 2021 that she helped defeat two Conservative MPs.
Reportedly, the CCP preferred a Trudeau Liberal minority government because such a government would be unlikely to pass legislation the CCP would take issue with.
According to the leaked CSIS documents, eight weeks prior to the 2021 federal election one consular official at an unnamed Chinese diplomatic mission in Canada said Beijing “likes it when the parties in Parliament are fighting with each other, whereas if there is a majority, the party in power can easily implement policies that do not favour the PRC.”
The intelligence reports indicated that the CCP was determined for the Conservatives not to win as it believed that a Canadian Conservative government would be too hawkish.
“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 Globe and Mail reported.
The CSIS documents also quoted a Chinese consulate official as saying that a Conservative government “will threaten the future of the voters’ children, as it will limit their education opportunities,” and that “The Liberal Party of Canada is becoming the only party that the PRC can support.”