The Canadian foreign interference inquiry, which has only been underway for a week, may see the return of independent MP Han Dong to the Liberal caucus. Dong has been a person of interest in alleged Chinese interference in Canadian affairs. In February 2021, Global News reported that Dong had advised a Chinese diplomat to delay the release of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were being detained in China. Dong left the party to address the allegations and subsequently filed a $15 million defamation lawsuit against Global News and its parent company, Corus Entertainment.
Dong recently met with Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, who informed him that he would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and conduct an internal review. Dong expressed his hope to rejoin the caucus as soon as possible. However, he did not provide any details on the progress of his ongoing litigation.
In May, former special rapporteur on foreign interference, David Johnston, released a report highlighting “irregularities” in Dong’s nomination for the 2019 federal election. These irregularities were linked to the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Toronto, with whom Dong had maintained relationships. However, there was no evidence to suggest that Dong was aware of China’s alleged interference in his nomination.
The foreign interference inquiry aims to investigate allegations of foreign interference in Canada’s democratic processes and institutions. It was established in response to concerns about foreign influence campaigns and attempts to manipulate Canadian politics. The inquiry will examine activities carried out by foreign governments, intelligence agencies, organizations, and individuals that may undermine Canada’s sovereignty, security, or interests.
The inquiry will cover a broad range of topics, including cyber threats, misinformation campaigns, foreign funding of Canadian organizations, and covert influence operations. It will also assess the adequacy of the existing legal and regulatory frameworks to address foreign interference and make recommendations for any necessary reforms.
The case of Han Dong is just one instance of alleged foreign interference in Canadian politics. The inquiry’s findings will provide valuable insights into the extent, nature, and impact of foreign interference and help develop measures to safeguard Canada’s democratic processes.
The inquiry has drawn attention to the need for stronger measures to protect against foreign interference and ensure the integrity of the Canadian political system. It is essential to maintain transparency, accountability, and trust in the democratic process and take decisive action to address any vulnerabilities.
As the inquiry progresses, it will be crucial to engage with experts, civil society organizations, and the public to gather diverse perspectives and experiences. This inclusive approach will help ensure a comprehensive and robust examination of the issue and enable the development of effective strategies to prevent and counter foreign interference.
Overall, the foreign interference inquiry represents a significant step towards safeguarding Canada’s democracy and defending against external threats. It is a critical opportunity to strengthen the resilience of Canadian institutions and protect the country’s national interests. By shedding light on the extent of foreign interference and identifying vulnerabilities, the inquiry will contribute to enhancing the integrity and security of Canada’s democratic processes.