Liberal Party executives attended MP Han Dong’s controverisal nomination meeting: report

The China inquiry disclosed that Liberal Party executives attended MP Han Dong's 2019 nomination meeting in Don Valley North. Eyewitness testimony confirmed Party brass attended the vote but did not specify who was present.

Liberal Party executives attended MP Han Dong’s controverisal nomination meeting: report
The Canadian Press / Christinne Muschi
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Chinese agents allegedly targeted MP Han Dong’s 2019 nomination meeting which senior Liberal Party managers attended.

On Wednesday, the Commission on Foreign Interference tabled documents which claimed the presence of Liberal executives at the incumbent member of Parliament’s nomination vote.

Eyewitness testimony at the inquiry confirmed “Party brass from Ottawa were at the nomination vote” held September 12, 2019, at Toronto’s Armenian Community Centre.

According to Dong’s then-campaign manager, Ted Lojko, the nomination “was heavily scrutinized by the Liberal Party.” He could not recall who watched the vote unfold.

“They wanted to know whether there was anything the media could pick up on to tarnish the campaign,” testified Lojko. Don Valley North was the only open nomination for the Party in the Greater Toronto Area.

Azam Ishmael, national director of the Liberal Party, testified he was satisfied there were no irregularities in Don Valley North. 

“People who ordinarily reside within the riding are allowed to vote in our nomination meetings,” said Ishmael. “The only thing that catches me as a bit peculiar is that it was organized by the school given it was a partisan political event,” he added.

On Wednesday, Lojko described the meeting as “chaotic” and said he expected Dong to lose, reported Blacklock’s Reporter

Lojko could not comment on the discrepancy of the vote between candidates. Voting lasted for three to four hours, with several hundreds of people casting a ballot.

Last November 28, the governing party refused to surrender “all documents” concerning Dong’s nomination meeting after the House Affairs Committee rejected an investigation request.

The shocking testimony of Dong’s campaign manager follows the Independent MP admitting his campaign bused foreign students from out of town to vote in his nomination. 

According to the inquiry, Dong’s campaign bused foreign students from New Oriental International College Academy in Markham, Ontario, which is not located in Don Valley North.

“I didn’t understand it as an irregularity,” he testified on Tuesday at the China inquiry. 

Dong could not recall whether all those students voted for him but believes it is likely most did, a Supplementary statement from the day prior reads. 

However, David Johnston’s First Report into foreign interference last May confirmed the “well-grounded suspicion” of irregularities tied to the Chinese Consul. The member of Parliament acknowledged he frequently spoke with Counsel General Han Tao by telephone.

A confidential Intelligence memo disclosed Tuesday at the China inquiry, alleged Toronto’s Chinese Consulate helped Dong win his nomination.

A treasure trove of top-secret intelligence documents disclosed last year broadly said Beijing had directed Chinese students to work as campaign volunteers in “hostile” ridings. They reportedly faced veiled threats from the Consul, implying their student visas would be in jeopardy and their families would face dire consequences should they not support the incumbent.

“Some intelligence reporting indicated students were provided with falsified documents to allow them to vote despite not being residents of Don Valley North,” the memo reads. “The documents were provided by individuals associated with a known proxy agent.”

Although the member of Parliament dismissed the incident, Lojko questioned their voting eligibility. “Realistically unless they were permanent residents and had some form of ID, they would not be eligible to vote,” he said.

The riding’s Liberal association did not maintain any record keeping of delegates who attended the nomination meeting.

Dong in a Supplementary statement to the Commission April 1st acknowledged the Chinese teenagers voted for him, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. “They spoke Mandarin,” he said. “They were likely mostly Chinese.”

The 2019 Don Valley North Liberal nomination meeting remains under investigation by the Elections Commissioner.

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