Canada MP resigns from Trudeau government amid China meddling allegations
A Canadian lawmaker has resigned from the governing Liberal Party caucus after a media report alleged he advised Chinese diplomats to not release two imprisoned Canadians in 2021.
Han Dong, the MP representing a district in Toronto, said the report with “unverified and anonymous sources” was false and an attack on his reputation and loyalty to Canada.
Canadian television network Global News, citing unidentified security sources, reported that Mr Dong advised China’s consul general in Toronto in 2021 that the opposition Conservative party would benefit if Beijing released two Canadians accused of espionage.
Former diplomat Canadians Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were arrested in China in December 2018 in what was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Canada into releasing Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies.
Ms Meng was arrested in Vancouver at the request of US authorities.
Mr Dong told Global News that he did speak with the diplomat, but disputed how the conversation was characterised.
The lawmaker on Wednesday said he will remain in Canada’s parliament as an independent member to avoid causing problems for the party.
“I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims,” Mr Dong said in a tearful party resignation speech in Canada’s House of Commons on Wednesday night.
“I have never and would never advocate or support the violation of basic human rights of any Canadian.”
Mr Dong said he wanted to “assure Mr Michael Spavor and Mr Michael Kovrig and their families that I did nothing to cause them any harm”.
“Like everyone in this House, I worked hard and advocated for their interest as a parliamentarian. The allegations against me are as false as the ones against you,” he said.
Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre called for an independent inquiry into the row and said the allegations were “serious” and “threaten the core of our Canadian democracy”.
These are serious reports of actions that threaten the core of our Canadian democracy.
No more hiding. No more cover up.
Open, public, independent inquiry now: https://t.co/Bq8SOvYMso https://t.co/QBE7dSkYOT
— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) March 22, 2023
Mr Dong’s resignation comes after a series of reports alleged Justin Trudeau received intelligence briefings on Chinese attempts to meddle in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections, which his Liberal party won.
Mr Trudeau has so far resisted calls for a public inquiry into the matter, but has instead appointed a “special rapporteur” to examine evidence to decide if an inquiry is warranted.