After national security sources revealed allegations against Liberal MP Han Dong, who told the Chinese consulate to withhold the release of the two Michaels, he resigned from the Liberal caucus, effective immediately.
"Han Dong is up in the House of Commons to resign from the Liberal caucus," tweeted Conservative MP Michael Chong Tuesday evening.
According to the sources, Dong, who is at the centre of Chinese influence allegations, privately advised a senior Chinese diplomat not to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in February 2021.
Both sources alleged he told Han Tao, China's consul general in Toronto, that releasing the two Michaels would benefit the Conservatives in the polls.
Dong claims these allegations are false and says he intends to fight against them as an Independent MP.
"I have informed the prime minister and the leadership of the Liberal Party caucus that I will be sitting as an Independent upon concluding my remarks," he began.
Dong said that "verified security sources" attacked his reputation and questioned his "loyalty to Canada."
"Let me be clear; what has been reported is false, and I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims," he continued.
"As a parliamentarian...I would never advocate or support the violation of the fundamental rights of any Canadian."
According to the sources, the Liberal MP supposedly recommended Beijing show progress in the Kovrig and Spavor cases to aid the ruling Liberal Party, who faced public pushback over China's inhumane treatment of the two Michaels then.
Dong confirmed he discussed the matter with Consul General Han but denied he advised Beijing to delay releasing Kovrig and Spavor from prison.
"I raised the status of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and called for their immediate release," he wrote in an earlier statement.
"At every opportunity before they returned home, I demanded their release to Canada without delay. Any suggestions otherwise are false and are attempts to mislead you and your readers and slander me."
The Prime Minister's Office claims they only became aware of the two-year-old conversation following the inquiry by Global News.
PMO spokesperson Alison Murphy wrote that her office "only became aware that a conversation took place after Mr. Dong told us, following recent media questions."
Murphy also suggested that the MP was not acting at the behest of his government. She claimed Dong never used a "back channel" to communicate with the Chinese consulate.
During the conversation between Dong and the Chinese diplomat, Spavor and Kovrig did not have access to due legal process and lacked their fundamental rights, such as consular access.
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.
Trudeau 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.