Former Liberal MP quits ‘diplomatic’ post owing to relations with China

MP Han Dong acknowledged several contacts with Chinese diplomats in 2023 court filings, including multiple phone calls with the Consul General and the Ambassador between 2020 and 2022.

Former Liberal MP quits ‘diplomatic’ post owing to relations with China
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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Independent MP Han Dong has stepped down from a critical diplomatic role, before earning a legal victory against ‘damaging’ media reports on foreign interference.

Dong, who served as co-chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association, did not seek re-election. The organization serves as a platform for Canadian and Chinese parliamentarians to "discuss bilateral and multilateral challenges facing the two countries."

In April, the controversial member of Parliament admitted to at least a dozen phone calls with Chinese diplomats during testimony at the Foreign Interference Commission.

MP Dong in 2023 court filings acknowledged several contacts with Chinese diplomats, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. “These conversations were recognized methods of diplomatic communications,” his lawyer wrote to Ontario Superior Court. 

“From time to time Dong’s office would provide notes from these calls to the Department of Foreign Affairs,” according to filings. It contends Dong maintained “professional” relations with the Chinese Ambassador and the Consul General.

“They are not close friends,” his lawyer clarified. Between 2020 and 2022, Dong phoned the Consul General five times and the Ambassador seven times.

Last February, national security sources alleged the MP worked to delay the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, over anxieties of support shifting to the Conservatives. They claimed Dong spoke with Han Tao, China's consul general in Toronto.

He resigned from the Liberal caucus last March 24 to contest the “false” allegations. No date has been set for a defamation trial. 

Dong in April 2 testimony under summons at the Commission confirmed he had a “relationship” with Chinese officials. 

“Is it correct that you maintain relationships with individuals at the People’s Republic of China Consulate in Toronto?” asked Nando de Luca, counsel for the Conservative Party. “Yes, I agree with that,” replied Dong.

“Who in particular? Can you give us some names?” asked Counsel de Luca. “I had conversations with Consul General Han Tao,” replied MP Dong. “His office will call my office to arrange a phone call and we will talk, especially around Chinese holidays.”

“Anyone else of note?” asked Counsel de Luca. “No, no,” replied Dong. “Nothing, nobody I recall that I ever had a conversation with.”

Dong’s contacts were detailed in a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) memo alleging China’s Consulate in Toronto bused Chinese foreign students to vote at Dong’s 2019 Liberal Party nomination. The students were attending New Oriental International College Academy in Markham, Ontario outside the riding.

“I didn’t understand it as an irregularity,” testified Dong. 

A Superior Court judge earlier claimed the member of Parliament suffered “indisputable” damage to his reputation, owing to media reports on those foreign interference allegations.

"Dong may be a villain, or he may be innocent," Justice Paul Perell wrote in his 16-page decision. 

“The defendants [Global News] may have outed a villain and be lauded for it,” the decision reads. “They may have [also] wrongfully accused an innocent man, and if so, they should be embarrassed.”

MP Dong claimed “verified security sources” attacked his reputation and questioned his “loyalty to Canada.” He admitted to speaking with Tao but not regarding the two Michaels in that manner.

“I raised the status of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and called for their immediate release,” the member of Parliament wrote in an earlier statement.

“As a parliamentarian … I would never advocate or support the violation of the fundamental rights of any Canadian,” he said.

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