Canada lawmaker quits Trudeau’s party amid China allegations

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A Canadian lawmaker is leaving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party after a media report raised questions about his handling of China

From

ROB GILLIES Associated Press

March 23, 2023 12:01 am ET

3 minutes read

MP Han Dong said the report, which cited anonymous sources, was an attack on his reputation and loyalty to Canada. He said he would leave the Liberals and sit in Parliament as an independent lawmaker so as not to cause problems for the party.

Global News on Wednesday, citing unidentified security sources, issued a report alleging that Dong suggested to China’s Consul-General in Toronto in 2021 that the conservative opposition party would benefit if Beijing released two Canadians accused of espionage. Global made no direct quotes from the alleged conversation.

Canadians Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, were arrested in China in December 2018 in what was widely seen as an attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies . She was arrested at the request of US authorities in Vancouver. China, the US and Canada conducted a prisoner exchange a little over two years later.

Dong, who has represented a Toronto parliamentary district since 2019, told Global News that he spoke to the diplomat but denied how the conversation was characterized.

Dong delivered a tearful resignation speech in parliament late Wednesday.

“Let me be clear: what has been reported is false and I will defend myself against this absolutely untrue allegation,” he said. Dong said he wanted “Mr. Michael Spavor and Mr. Michael Kovrig and their families affirm that I have done nothing to harm them.”

Trudeau recently appointed a special counsel to investigate allegations of Chinese interference in Canada’s last two elections. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing unidentified intelligence officials, reported last month that China had preferred to see Trudeau’s Liberals re-elected in the 2021 election and was working to defeat conservative politicians seen as anti-Beijing

Opposition parties have called for a full public inquiry into alleged Chinese interference.

Trudeau said all Canada’s political leaders agree that the 2019 and 2021 election results were not affected by foreign interference. But he has said that even if it doesn’t change the results, any interference by a foreign actor is worrying and serious.

A panel of officials recently issued a report that concluded there had been attempts at foreign interference, but none affected the outcome of the election.

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This story corrected the legislature’s name to Han, not Hang.