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Liberal MP Han Dong says he’s gotten death threats following Chinese election interference allegations


OTTAWA — A Liberal MP from Toronto says he has received “hateful comments” and “death threats” since he was accused in a media report of knowingly receiving help from Beijing as part of the Chinese government’s alleged interference in Canadian democracy.

Speaking Tuesday for the first time since the allegations were reported by Global News in February, Don Valley North MP Han Dong told reporters on Parliament Hill that has no information that Beijing has helped or been involved with any of his campaigns since he entered politics nine years ago.

“To my knowledge, I was not offered, I was not told, I was not informed, nor would I accept any help from a foreign country,” Dong said.

Dong also said Canada’s spy agency, the Canada Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has never contacted him about alleged foreign interference, and he’s never been told of any investigation by that service, the RCMP or Elections Canada.

He said he has written to the director of CSIS to ask about the reported allegations, but has not received a response other than an acknowledgment of his request.

After acknowledging he has not asked the Prime Minister’s Office or top government officials about the allegations, Dong explained it’s because he knows the “truth” about his campaigns since he was first elected as a provincial Liberal at Queen’s Park in 2014.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended Dong as an “outstanding” Liberal MP and suggested questioning his loyalty to Canada is racist.

“I know my campaign. I know … the people that work on my campaign. I’ve worked with them for years,” Dong said Tuesday, adding that he can’t defend himself against “unverified” and “anonymous” allegations.

Since the allegation against him was reported last month, Dong said he has received “aggressive, hateful comments” and “death threats,” and that the situation is negatively impacting his constituents. He also expressed concerns about the Chinese community and how the recent reports of alleged foreign interference might deter them from participating in future elections.

He also rejected any assertion that his absence at a vote in Parliament that declared China’s repression of Uyghur Muslims a “genocide” shows he is sympathetic to Beijing. He said he has directly raised concerns about China’s human rights record to the country’s diplomats, and that he wants an independent investigation into the documented repression of Uyghurs.

The Global News report in February named Dong as an alleged “witting affiliate” of a Chinese government effort to help him secure the Liberal nomination in Don Valley North, so he could run for the party in the 2019 federal election. The report is among a series of revelations from Global News and the Globe and Mail, which cite intelligence and national security documents and reports that allege China attempted to influence the last two federal elections.

The Star has not been able to verify any of those reports.

Meanwhile, an independent panel appointed by the government to guard against threats to election integrity concluded in a report published Feb. 28 that foreign interference by China, other countries and from domestic Canadian actors is a problem, but that it did not impact the overall result of the 2021 election. That echoed previous findings from the previous election in 2019.

The government’s top national security adviser also told a parliamentary committee this month that the RCMP is not investigating any alleged interference in the last two federal elections.

The issue has become a political firestorm for the Liberal government, with opposition demands for a public inquiry. On Tuesday, the Liberals agreed in the face of opposition pressure to allow Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, to testify at a parliamentary committee studying foreign interference.

The government has also appointed former Gov. General David Johnston as “special rapporteur” to guide their response, as two separate closed-door investigations — one by a special committee of MPs and senators; the other by an independent national security agency — look into the issue.

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