You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

LILLEY: Liberal MP Dong resigns from party over interference claims

Toronto Sun logo Toronto Sun 2023-03-23 Brian Lilley
Han Dong. © Provided by Toronto Sun Han Dong.

Liberal MP Han Dong is now independent MP Han Dong. The twice-elected MP from Don Valley North made the announcement in the House of Commons late Wednesday night.

“I am taking this extraordinary step because to sit in the government caucus is a privilege and my presence there may be seen by some as a conflict of duty” Dong said.

“I’ll be sitting as an independent so that the business of government, and indeed the business of Parliament, is not interrupted as I work to clear my name.”

Dong was named in a report by Global News on Feb. 25 as one of the MPs helped by an election interference network that intelligence agencies claim was run out of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto during the 2019 election. Since then, Dong has maintained his innocence and as recently as Tuesday spoke with reporters at length while denying he had any assistance from the Chinese government in getting elected.

That Feb. 25 report stated that CSIS had warned the Trudeau Liberals that the intelligence agency had concerns about Dong weeks before the September 2019 election. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau never denied that his team or party had been briefed by CSIS but he still stood by Dong.

“It is not up to unelected security officials to dictate to political parties who can or cannot run. That’s a really important principle,” Trudeau said in response to the February report.

He stood by his MP and didn’t expel him from caucus even as a member of Doug Ford’s Ontario PC Party caucus stepped down in early March when he was named.


Replay Video

That all changed late Wednesday when another report from Global, citing unnamed sources, said that Dong had spoken to a Chinese diplomat about the detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The claim was that Dong advised the Chinese diplomat in early 2021 that releasing the two Michaels shouldn’t happen at that point in time because it would benefit the Conservative Party.

Dong admitted to Global News that he did have a conversation with Han Tao, China’s Consul General in Toronto, but that he had pressed for the two Michaels to be released. Asked about the fact that Dong had spoken to the Chinese consulate about the two Michaels, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said they had no knowledge.

Alison Murphy, a spokesperson for Trudeau’s office, said that the PMO “only became aware that a conversation took place after Mr. Dong told us, following recent media questions.”

That statement was the writing on the wall that Trudeau would no longer back Dong in public. A short time later, he announced his departure from the Liberal caucus.

The Liberals have been dealing with allegations that they specifically benefitted from China’s interference in Canada’s elections in 2019 and 2021 by delaying any investigation into the matter and casting doubt on the allegations. The move to distance themselves from Dong is a sign that may be changing.

So far, Trudeau has called questions about the matter racist, he has called for the CSIS whistleblowers to be investigated and dealt with and he has delayed in calling a public inquiry by appointing David Johnston as a special rapporteur to study the matter.

If Trudeau was hoping this story would fade away, the latest allegations against Dong and his removal from the Liberal caucus has ensured that this story will stay front and centre for some time.


More From Toronto Sun

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon