Voices calling for a federal inquiry on the Chinese interference in Canadian elections have been steadily growing, heightened by the recent Global News report citing the ties of the Chinese Communist Party to the election of Liberal MP Han Dong of the Don Valley North riding.
According to three sources familiar with the investigation, Dong emerged as the 2019 Liberal contender to succeed MP Geng Tan in dubious ways.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), who started tracking Dong in June of that year, allegedly had intelligence that Beijing favored Dong over Tan.
“The [Chinese] Consulate was not pleased with Geng Tan’s performance,” a national security official familiar with the probe told Global News.
The Han Dong situation
According to a national security officer, CSIS asked Trudeau’s staff to withdraw Dong’s candidacy in late September, approximately 48 hours before the federal election nomination deadline.
Sources added that Dong “was considered a close friend of the Toronto Consulate,” and frequently called Chinese authorities in Ontario.
CSIS was also purportedly concerned about the nomination procedure of the Liberal Party. According to sources, Chinese international students with bogus addresses were allegedly bused into the riding and pressured to vote in Dong’s favor during the September 2019 election.
According to those familiar with the intelligence, the alleged warning to the Prime Minister’s Office regarding Dong and Michael Chan, a former Cabinet Minister of Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario liberal government and now deputy mayor of Markham, did not disclose specifics about the current investigation, but rather described the worries. They claimed the warning was issued to safeguard Canada’s democratic systems.
Those same people, who were aware of the service’s Don Valley North investigations, were also concerned about Chan’s potential influence as Markham’s deputy mayor. According to them, he surreptitiously conveyed political information to the Canadian Consulate and allegedly threatened to attack critics of the Chinese Communist Party.
According to sources and records, another reason the service decided to target Dong was his purported encounter with a top official from Beijing’s United Front Work Department in New York state. This claimed incident occurred during the service’s 2019 election meddling investigation.
A January 2022 Privy Council Office “Special Report” of the 2019 investigations indicated that this organ of the Chinese Communist Party is assisting Beijing’s enormous political subversion activities in Canada.
Beijing, on the other hand, denies employing the United Front to further CCP policy abroad.
The bulk of Don Valley North voters are Asian-Canadian, with many having ties to Hong Kong or mainland China. As a result, political and economic ties with Beijing influence election plans.
Dong and Chan both dispute the allegations leveled against them.
“As a Member of Parliament, safeguarding Canada’s democratic institutions is a fundamental part of my job, and I take all serious allegations of foreign interference very seriously,” Dong wrote in an email to Global News. “I am unaware of the claims provided to you by alleged sources, which contains seriously inaccurate information.”
Chan called the report a “vague innuendo” that is impossible to respond to.
“To the extent you are suggesting I am not a true Canadian, you should be ashamed of yourself,” Chan wrote in an email. He instead pointed out his concerns that “CSIS or some of its employees are apparently breaking the law in selectively ‘leaking’ their false and unfounded opinions about [him] and other Canadians.”
In response to CSIS sources’ claims that Dong and Chan were close contacts and involved in the alleged 2019 election interference scheme, Chan wrote: “The implication from your phrase ‘in contact’ seems to to be an allegation that we are part of some foreign Chinese spy ring, which is totally outrageous.”
Still no inquiry
In an emailed response to the CSIS claims, Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson Alison Murphy stated that the law forbids her from commenting on inquiries about secret or top-secret subjects. She also refused to address Global News’ inquiries, claiming that they contained so many factual errors that it was impossible “to even begin to answer” them.
“Han Dong is a strong representative who served his community through the pandemic and consistently works to make life better for people, including calling out discrimination that is too often targeted at the Chinese Canadian community,” Murphy said.
The Prime Minister and senior officials insist that the alleged influence had no impact on the overall outcomes of the 2019 or 2021 elections. Trudeau recently stated that there will not be a public inquiry into the matter of China’s interference into Canada’s democracy.
“Canadians can be and should be confident that our institutions, particularly our electoral and democratic processes, have not been compromised, were not compromised in the 2019 and 2021 elections. It is a very good thing that Canadians are understanding how serious it is that China and other countries are continuing to try to destabilize and influence our democracies and our institutions,” Trudeau commented when prompted.
Trudeau earlier has stated that no tampering was discovered by the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force set up to monitor threats to federal elections, telling the Commons in November last year that the task group “determined that the integrity of our elections was not compromised in 2019 or 2021.”
He added that China has been attempting to meddle with federal elections for years but Canadians can have “total confidence” in the integrity of its election results.
According to an earlier Globe and Mail report, the Prime Minister attended a national-security briefing last fall in which he was informed that China’s consulate in Toronto had targeted 11 candidates in the 2019 federal election. Despite the consulate’s efforts to promote the campaigns on social media and in Chinese-language media sources, CSIS Director David Vigneault informed Trudeau that there was no evidence that China’s involvement activities had helped elect any of them.
“We have taken significant measures to strengthen the integrity of our elections processes and our systems, and we’ll continue to invest in the fight against election interference, against foreign interference of our democracy and institutions,” Trudeau then said after the news broke.
Growing probe calls
Despite Trudeau continuing to refuse holding an inquiry on the supposed Chinese interference in the elections, multiple voices from both sides of the aisle are calling for one.
Following the release of the Global News report, Conservatives issued a statement stating that they will once again demand that Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, appear before the House Procedure and House Affairs Committee to discuss Chinese Communist Party electoral interference. Among the issues the party wants to address is how Trudeau, after being briefed on the potential of Chinese interference, seemed to have approved Dong’s candidacy.
“A senior intelligence official told Global News CSIS shared their concerns about Dong in late September 2019 during a classified briefing with senior Liberal Party staff who hold security clearances. In that meeting, CSIS urged them to rescind Dong’s nomination. Despite the alleged warnings to his staff, Trudeau approved Dong’s candidacy,” the Conservatives quoted the Global News report.
Conservative MP Michael Cooper pointed out that Trudeau’s initial reaction to The Globe and Mail reports on the interference was to “attack the whistleblowers,” as well as quelling the issue by saying that raising concerns about election involvement was itself “undermining democracy and smugly shrugged off the reporting on CSIS allegations as ‘inaccurate’.”
“It would be beyond outrageous if the Prime Minister of our country was made aware that one of his Liberal candidates was compromised by the Chinese Communist Party and outright refused to do the right thing,” Cooper said. “It is crucial for confidence in our democracy that we know what Justin Trudeau and his government knew and when. The Prime Minister’s top aide, Chief of Staff Katie Telford, must appear before Committee to tell us what she knows.”
Former CSIS head and Trudeau’s national security advisor also joined calls for a public investigation into China’s electoral interference.
Information for this briefing was found via Global News and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.