Han Dong billed taxpayers for 'questionable' summer trip to Vancouver

The MP charged taxpayers for a trip to Vancouver last summer, where he met with groups friendly to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He also socialized with a Chinese diplomat.

Han Dong billed taxpayers for 'questionable' summer trip to Vancouver
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Independent MP Han Dong disclosed a $2,391.73 transportation bill from a trip to British Columbia from July 28 to August 5, 2022, "to attend meetings with stakeholders about the House [of Commons] business." He did not charge for accommodation and meals.

Dong is a member of two standing committees, Industry and Technology and Public Accounts, neither of which met last summer. He co-chairs the Canada-China Legislative Association and sits on the Canada-Japan and Canada-Italy inter-parliamentary groups, but they also had no business during the period.

According to the Members' Allowances and Services Manual, MPs can only travel "in the fulfillment of their parliamentary functions only." Nobody from Dong's office or the Prime Minister's Office responded to requests for comment.

Former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu wondered how the Independent MP, neither a cabinet minister nor a parliamentary secretary, justified his trip to Vancouver. He called the MP's trip to western Canada "questionable."

"If you are not conducting any committee business, or if you are not fulfilling any duty because of your portfolio, then it becomes a bit questionable and weird," said Chiu. "His riding is Don Valley North, a few thousand kilometres from Greater Vancouver."

While Dong did not post about his trip on social media, the co-founder of the 1029 Crowdfunding Cafe in Richmond and Canadian Chinese Heritage and Future Foundation (CCHFF) published a diary on WeChat with photographs of the Independent MP during his visit to Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby, B.C.

"You came and left gently," wrote Zhang Jiawei about Dong, whom he called a friend.

Chiu believes a coordinated campaign from Beijing cost him his seat in the 2021 federal election after 4,400 fewer Conservative supporters voted for him in 2021 than in 2019 — of which nearly half translated into Liberal votes.

DisinfoWatch, a foreign disinformation monitoring watchdog, also warned of a coordinated campaign against the Conservatives in 2021. Experts said the campaigns stemmed from WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging service.

On July 29, Dong visited the Chinese Canadian Society for Political Engagement (CCSPE) at its clubhouse in a former Dunbar pizzeria to give the founder Kong Qingcun a Queen's Platinum Jubilee pin. 

Dong and Kong visited Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed's Vancouver-Granville riding office and later attended the 20th-anniversary banquet of the Canadian Community Service Association (CCSA) at the River Rock Show Theatre. 

Dong presented CCSA founder Harris Niu the jubilee pin and posed for photographs on stage with a group of people, including China's Deputy Consul General Wang Chengjun.

His itinerary that week also included speaking from the stage at the Chinese Cultural Heritage Festival in Swangard Stadium, visiting the headquarters of TWG Tea Canada and meeting with Phantom Creek Estates Winery owner Richter Bai Jiping and Keqin Zu, Vancouver bureau director of Chinese government-funded Phoenix TV.

On August 3, Dong and his wife, Sophia Qiao, the North American marketing director of the Chinese streaming service iQIYI, visited the CCHFF office at the Terminal City Club.

According to Jiang's diary, Dong discussed "politics and community public welfare and charity, especially against anti-Chinese discrimination and Canada's multicultural policies" at a 15-person roundtable. 

They dined at the Terminal City Club, met with Niu and Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations chair Wei Renmin, and attended a Vancouver Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra concert at the Canadian Flower Winery in Richmond.

Global News previously reported that Dong met secretly in February 2021 with a Chinese diplomat and allegedly suggested China delay freeing Canadian hostages Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to not benefit the federal Conservatives.

According to security sources, Dong allegedly suggested to Han Tao, China's consul general in Toronto, not to release the two Michaels and asked for some progress in the Kovrig and Spavor cases, amid public pushback then.

While Dong confirmed that he discussed it with Consul General Han, he denied advising Beijing to delay the release of Kovrig and Spavor from prison.

Dong vehemently denied the allegation and announced he would sit as an Independent MP while he clears his name after launching a lawsuit Monday against the media outlet and its parent company, Corus Entertainment.

On March 1, the CCSPE website defended Dong, urging "all Chinese public opinion representatives, regardless of party affiliation, to say no to the 'smearing' without practical evidence, because if you don't stand up today, you may also become a victim tomorrow."

Neither Kong nor Jiang responded to requests for comment.

On Thursday, Opposition politicians outvoted the Liberals 172-149 in favour of a public inquiry into foreign interference in Canadian elections. Dong also voted in favour of the inquiry.

Before the shocking revelations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed former Governor General David Johnston as a special rapporteur in March. His mandate is to engage two national security committees, study the issue of Chinese interference, and report his findings to the prime minister.

Also in March, representatives of several Chinese-Canadian groups appeared before House committees, urging the Feds to call a public inquiry, citing threats, intimidation and coercion against the diverse diaspora by China and its proxies.

On March 10, Bill Chu of the Chinese-Canadian Concern Group on the Chinese Communist Party's Human Rights Violation testified that the CCP intentionally confuses references to the party and Chinese people as a whole to make bogus claims of racism.

"The purposes are simply to silence criticisms against the CCP by equating that as criticisms of all Chinese and rouse up a distorted sense of nationalism among all Chinese, including the diaspora," Chu told MPs.

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