MP Han Dong leaving Liberal caucus, denies allegations of working against release of 2 Michaels
Will sit as an Independent, vows to refute 'absolutely untrue claims'
Han Dong, the Toronto-area MP at the centre of allegations involving Chinese government interference in Canada's affairs, says he is leaving the Liberal caucus and will sit as an Independent.
I'm taking this extraordinary step because to [sit] in the government caucus is a privilege and my presence there may be seen by some as a conflict of duty and the wrong place to be as an independent investigation pursues the facts in this matter, he said , reading a statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday night.
I will be sitting as the Independent so that business of government and indeed the bills of Parliament is not interrupted as I work to clear my name and the truth is presented to Parliament and to Canadian people.
WATCH | Han Dong announces he's leaving Liberal caucus amid foreign interference allegations
Liberal MP Han Dong announces he's leaving Liberal caucus amid foreign interference allegations
Han Dong, the Toronto area MP at the centre of allegations that his election campaign benefited from Beijing's meddling, says he is leaving Liberal caucus and will sit as an independent.
His comments follow a story from Global News, alleging Dong advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off on freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — the two Canadians being held by China at the time.
Their detention is widely considered to be a retaliatory action in response to the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada in 2018 following an extradition request from the U.S.
The Global story cited two unnamed national security sources who said Dong made the suggestion because their release would be helpful to the Conservatives. CBC News has not verified the allegations.
Dong confirmed to Global that he had a discussion with Consul General Han Tao, but denied that he advised Beijing to delay releasing Kovrig and Spavor.
Let me be clear. What has been reported is false, and I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims, said the Don Valley North representative in his remarks to Parliament.
But let me assure you as a parliamentarian and as a person, I have never and I will never, and would never advocate or support the violation of the basic human rights of any Canadian, of anyone, anywhere, period.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office said the office
only became aware that a conversation took place after Mr. Dong told us, following recent media questions.
I am a proud Liberal, said Dong, his voice breaking during his remarks.
Before concluding, I want to assure Mr. Michael Spavor and Mr. Michael Kovrig and their families that I did nothing to cause them any harm.
Mr. Speaker, I am in your hands as to what happens next.
Dong spoke to reporters Tuesday
Alison Murphy, a spokesperson for Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, gave no other comment Wednesday night.
I'll refer you to Mr. Dong's statement in the House tonight, she wrote in an email.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre posted on Twitter that the allegations are
serious reports of actions that threaten the core of our Canadian democracy.
An earlier Global News story, also citing anonymous sources, alleged national security officials gave an urgent briefing to senior aides from Trudeau's office in 2019
warning them that one of their candidates was part of a Chinese foreign interference network.
Global's sources allege the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) believed Dong, who was re-elected in 2021, was a
witting affiliate of China's election interference networks.
Dong spoke to reporters for the first time Tuesday since that story broke in February.
I was not offered, I was not told, I was not informed, nor would I accept any help from a foreign country, whether during my nomination or during my election campaign, he said.
- Trudeau's chief of staff Katie Telford to testify at committee probing Chinese government interference (new window)
- Liberal MP at centre of Chinese government election interference allegations says CSIS has yet to reach out (new window)
Dong also said Tuesday he had not been contacted by either CSIS, the RCMP or Elections Canada.
A CSIS spokesperson would not comment on whether the lack of contact with Dong was unusual.
There are important limits to what I can publicly discuss, given the need to protect sensitive activities, techniques, methods and sources of intelligence, Eric Balsam said in an email to CBC News on Wednesday.
WATCH | Dong denies Beijing played role in his election:
MP Han Dong says Beijing has 'absolutely not' played a role in his election
MP Han Dong discusses alleged election interference after a media report said he was one of the candidates believed to have been supported financially by the Chinese government heading into the 2019 election.
Disclosure could allow our adversaries to interrupt or harm our operations, techniques, methods and sources of intelligence. These limitations are therefore essential to ensure the safety, security and prosperity of Canada.
Dong's comments come as opposition MPs try to uncover what the Liberal Party knew, or didn't know, about Beijing's alleged attempts to meddle in Canada's elections.
An independent panel tasked with overseeing the 2021 election concluded that foreign meddling did not affect the outcome. (new window)
CSIS calls foreign interference activities by China's government the
greatest strategic threat to national security.
Catharine Tunney (new window) · CBC News