MP Han Dong threatens legal action against Global over foreign interference report
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, March 27, 2023 12:45PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 27, 2023 12:45PM EDT
OTTAWA - Han Dong is threatening legal action against Global News and its parent company after the media outlet published an allegation the Toronto MP spoke to a Chinese diplomat about delaying the release of two Canadians.
“Yes, I am taking legal action against Global News and Corus Entertainment,” Dong said in a statement on Monday. “I have retained a lawyer to begin legal action to its fullest extent.”
The statement follows a Global News report last week, citing anonymous security sources, that alleged the Toronto MP spoke about Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig with a Chinese diplomat in Toronto in February 2021.
The two Canadian men had been detained by China in December 2018, just over a week after the RCMP arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant.
Global News alleged that Dong told China's consul general in Toronto that releasing the men would benefit the Conservatives, but also that showing some “progress” in the case would help the Liberals.
Global News, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment, has also published allegations that Dong benefited from Chinese foreign interference in the Canadian electoral process.
The Canadian Press has not independently verified the allegations against Dong, who announced on Wednesday that he was leaving the Liberal caucus and would sit as an Independent to defend himself.
Dong did not immediately respond to questions about his lawyer's identity, or whether he has filed a statement of claim in court to formally launch legal proceeedings.
In his statement on Monday, Dong pushed back against allegations of having worked with Beijing by relating his father's experience under the Chinese Communist regime, which included having been sent to a “re-education camp” in 1970.
“The trauma left on my father is one of the compelling reasons why, as co-chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association and a member of Parliament, I took every available opportunity to advocate on behalf of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and to call for their immediate release,” he said.
“It is inconceivable that I would ever suggest a falsely accused individual should spend an extra minute in jail.”
Dong said he supports a public inquiry on foreign interference in Canada, and that he is willing to meet with former governor general David Johnston, who has been tapped as a special rapporteur to look into such allegations.
“I can look at myself in the mirror and know, with full certainty, that I have the truth on my side,” he said. “My anonymous false accusers and their enablers cannot say the same.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2023.