“Evident interference from China in Canadian elections”, but not for Trudeau

TORONTO – For Prime Minister Justin Trudeau everything is fine and there is no need to make further inquiries. But three weeks before the 2019 federal election, Canadian intelligence officials held an urgent and confidential briefing to top aides in the prime minister’s office, according to Global News, warning them that one of their candidates was part of a Chinese network of foreign interference: Han Dong, whom the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had begun following in June of that year and who would be one of eleven candidates from the Toronto area allegedly supported by Beijing in that election. 

The deputy in question, then re-elected in 2021 and therefore currently in office, would be a conscious affiliate in Chinese electoral interference networks and his own candidacy, at the time, would have emerged in a “suspicious” way. Also according to Global News, in fact, Han Dong was chosen in 2019 to succeed Geng Tan as the liberal candidate of the Don Valley North district, because “the (Chinese) Consulate was not satisfied with Tan’s performance”. Thus, after having staged an alleged scandal over Tan, forcing him to renounce his candidacy, the figure of Han Dong emerged, thanks also to the support of Michael Chan, former cabinet minister from Ontario, current deputy mayor of Markham (huge tank of votes) and a key player in fundraising for the Liberals.

But it doesn’t end there.

The CSIS also allegedly reported that, also during the 2019 elections, Chinese international students with false addresses were allegedly taken by bus and forced to vote for the Chinese candidate in question. Students were also allegedly “told by the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China” to support that specific candidate, “if they want to keep their student visa status”.

Both Dong and Chang, questioned by Global News, strongly reject any accusation. Chang says he supported Dong as well as other liberal candidates and points out that “apparently CSIS, or some of its employees, are breaking the law by selectively ‘leaking’ their false and unsubstantiated opinions about me and about other Canadians”. Dong also speaks of inaccurate information, adding that “as a member of Parliament, the safeguarding of Canada’s democratic institutions is a fundamental part of my work and I take all serious allegations of foreign interference very seriously”.

For his part, Justin Trudeau throws water on the fire, arguing that the alleged Chinese meddling did not undermine the overall results of the 2019 or 2021 elections. “Canadians can have confidence in the integrity of our elections”.

Richard Fadden, the former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and former national security adviser to the prime minister himself, has a completely different idea. Interviewed today by Mercedes Stephenson during “The West Block” on Global News, he said he “sees no compelling reason not to have a public inquiry. I think in this case the allegations are so serious that they need to be looked into” Fadden said, adding: “I think that a public inquiry is indeed the way forward”.

In the pic above, Richard Fadden during the interview with Mercedes Stephenson during “The West Block” (Global News)