Toronto Liberal MP Han Dong, accused of benefiting from Chinese interference during his election, has twice missed Parliamentary votes declaring Beijing's treatment of Muslim Uyghurs a genocide.
On February 1, two Quebec Liberal MPs tabled a motion underscoring the atrocities that called for Ottawa to bring 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims to Canada.
The motion said Uyghurs in the diaspora face incredible pressure to return to China to face arbitrary detention, forced labour and torture.
While the motion passed with the unanimous consent of 322 MPs, Dong missed the vote despite being present for his government's childcare legislation.
However, he returned to the Chamber following the vote in favour of a bill that would change the term child pornography in the criminal code to child sexual abuse and exploitation material.
The Liberal MP previously missed a vote declaring China's treatment of Uyghurs a genocide. At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from the vote, whereas none voted against it.
Several recent media reports have suggested the Liberals benefited from Chinese interference during both the 2019 and 2021 elections.
Former BC Conservative MP Kenny Chiu previously went on record that he believed a coordinated campaign from Beijing cost him his seat in the 2021 federal election. Chiu said his private member's bill to establish a foreign-agent registry provoked China's network in Canada to ensure he did not win in his re-election bid.
"When I [went] door knocking … there have been supporters of mine who just shut the door in my face," said Chiu. "There [was] so much hatred that I sense."
DisinfoWatch, a foreign disinformation monitoring watchdog, also warned of a coordinated campaign against the Conservative Party in 2021. Experts said the campaigns stemmed from WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging service.
Chiu alleges they targeted ridings with significant Chinese diaspora, like Steveston-Richmond East and Richmond Centre in BC. Canadians voted in Liberal MPs there in 2021, but they all voted to denounce the Chinese genocide against the Uyghurs on February 1.
Dong also voted against two other motions between 2019 and 2021, denouncing China's foreign policy and calling Ottawa to decide on Huawei within 30 days — the other motion was to create a parliamentary committee to assess Canada-China relations — but so did the entire Liberal caucus.
However, the Toronto Liberal previously endorsed his government's decision to expand work permits to Hong Kongers seeking to come to Canada.
He tweeted: "Hong Kong residents who share Canada's values of freedom and democracy" should be able to live and work here."
During a tense press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to give straight answers to questions about Chinese interference in Canada's elections. Instead, he implied the line of questioning was racist.
Dong allegedly received assistance from the Chinese consulate in 2019 when he successfully ran for the party's nomination in Don Valley North.
When asked about the Toronto Liberal and potential foreign influence, Trudeau said: "One of the things we've seen, unfortunately, over the past years is a rise in anti-Asian racism linked to the pandemic and concerns being raised or arisen around people's loyalties."
Global News named Dong a "witting affiliate in China's election interference networks" on February 24.
They said CSIS surveilled Dong as early as June 2019, months before his election to Parliament, and named him in a CSIS memo distributed through the Prime Minister's Office.
Media reports indicate that the Chinese consulate used seniors and Chinese international students to vote for Dong in the nomination contest other Liberal candidates fiercely contested. Don Valley North is a consistently Liberal riding with a significant Chinese diaspora population.
Dong secured his seat in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections with over half the tallied vote.
The prime minister faces intensifying pressure to explain whether the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) warned his office about their concerns with Dong, who allegedly received support from the Chinese consulate in Toronto during his election bid.
Still, Trudeau defended Dong on Monday, calling him a valuable government member.
"Han Dong is an outstanding team member, and suggestions that he is somehow not loyal to Canada should not be entertained," he said.
Trudeau also denied that CSIS warned the government about Dong's candidacy, responding they do not dictate who can run in an election.
"It is not up to unelected security officials to dictate to political parties who can or cannot run," he said.
Dong has since denied allegations he had benefited from foreign interference in his riding.
"I strongly reject the insinuations in media reporting that allege I have played a role in offshore interference in these processes and will defend myself vigorously against such inaccurate and irresponsible claims," said Dong in a statement released on Monday.
"Safeguarding Canada's democracy is integral to public service. I will support all fact-based efforts from parliamentarians to investigate alleged offshore interference and, if called upon, look forward to refuting these anonymous and unverified allegations."