‘I’m a Canadian’: MP named in foreign interference report speaks out, refutes claims
Spencer Van Dyk
CTV News Parliamentary Bureau Writer, Producer
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Updated March 21, 2023 8:18 p.m. EDT
Published March 21, 2023 7:55 p.m. EDT
The Liberal MP who allegedly benefitted from Chinese election interference is speaking out against the report, categorically stating the foreign government did not help him in his nomination campaign.
“To my knowledge, 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 election campaign,” Han Dong told reporters Tuesday.
“I’m a Canadian, nominated by Liberals in Don Valley North, by Canadians to serve Canadians,” he added. “I’m just going to focus on my work.”
A report by Global News last month stated CSIS warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office shortly before the 2019 election that Dong, a Liberal candidate, was part of a Chinese foreign interference network. CTV News has not independently verified the report.
Dong, a former Ontario MPP, is now a sitting MP, elected in both 2019 and 2021 in the riding of Don Valley North. Global News reported that Dong was preferred by Beijing over another Chinese Canadian Liberal, and that he was a “witting affiliate” of Chinese influence networks.
Trudeau has since both defended Dong and refuted the claim that he was warned by CSIS to drop him as a candidate.
“Dong is an outstanding member of our team and suggestions that he is somehow not loyal to Canada should not be entertained,” Trudeau said at a news conference in Mississauga, Ont., last month.
“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,” he also said.
On Tuesday, Dong spoke out for the first time since the report, repeatedly calling them “unverified, anonymous allegations.” When asked whether the Chinese government had any involvement in his nomination, he replied: “absolutely not.”
“My election, my nomination, everything has followed the rules, it’s on public record and it stands the test,” he said.
The MP said he supports the prime minister’s decision to appoint a special rapporteur to assess foreign interference in elections and recommend whether there should be a public inquiry, but he would not say definitively whether he is himself in favour of such an inquiry.
“Sure, I have my personal vested interest, I want the truth to come out, in my defence,” he said.
Dong said he’s concerned about how the allegations are affecting his constituents, especially his Chinese Canadians constituents.
Dong added he has not heard from the Prime Minister’s Office, CSIS or any other law enforcement agency about the allegations.
“I’ve never received a phone call from CSIS, I’ve never been made aware if there was an investigation, whether by CSIS, RCMP or Elections Canada, pertaining to my nomination or election campaign,” he said.
Dong said he has also not reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office himself to ask about the report.
“I’m not going to,” he said. “I cannot defend myself against an unverified, anonymous source.”
But Dong said he has written a letter to the director of CSIS asking about the allegations and whether they were the result of a leak from CSIS, and that the agency “acknowledged receipt” of his letter.