CSIS warned Trudeau about Toronto-area politician’s alleged ties to Chinese language diplomatsFebruary 13, 2023
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior aides had been warned on at the least two events that authorities MPs must be cautious of their political dealings with former Ontario Liberal cupboard minister Michael Chan due to alleged ties to China’s consulate in Toronto, national-security sources say.
The Canadian Safety Intelligence Service has a file on Mr. Chan that comprises info on his actions within the 2019 and 2021 federal election campaigns and conferences with suspected Chinese language intelligence operatives, based on the 2 safety sources. The Globe and Mail isn’t figuring out the sources, who threat prosecution below the Safety of Info Act.
Mr. Chan, now deputy mayor of the town of Markham, informed The Globe that he’s a loyal Canadian and accused CSIS of character assassination, saying they by no means as soon as interviewed him about his alleged involvement with the Chinese language consulate.
“Your individual assertion to me a few latest briefing by CSIS to Prime Minister Trudeau, serves solely to ignite xenophobia and trigger continued, unwarranted and irreparable injury to my status and the protection of my household,” he stated.
He added: “CSIS has by no means interviewed me relating to their false and unsubstantiated allegations. Nonetheless, I’m conscious that they’ve performed intimidating interviews with my associates and acquaintances after which instructed them to maintain their mouths shut.”
Mr. Chan, 71, was elected as a regional councillor in Markham’s Oct. 24 election final 12 months and, because the councillor with essentially the most votes, he additionally grew to become deputy mayor. In 2018, he retired from provincial politics, the place his final submit was minister of worldwide commerce for Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal authorities. He has been a key organizer and fundraiser in Ontario’s Chinese language-Canadian communities for the federal and provincial Liberal events.
CSIS has noticed Mr. Chan assembly prior to now years with Chinese language diplomat Zhao Wei, whom one supply describes as a “suspected intelligence actor,” and Beijing’s former vice-consul-general Zhuang Yaodong. CSIS believes Mr. Zhuang dealt with safety recordsdata out of the Toronto consulate, the supply stated. Mr. Zhao’s code-name for Mr. Chan is “The Minister,” the supply stated.
In 2019, Mr. Chan had quite a few conferences with Mr. Zhao that had been described in a CSIS 2020 briefing package deal as “clandestine in nature” and had been allegedly election-related, the supply stated. In that very same 12 months, CSIS noticed Mr. Chan and an affiliate assembly with Mr. Zhao and Mr. Zhuang at a Chinese language restaurant.
Mr. Chan stated in his assertion to The Globe that his conferences with Chinese language consular officers usually are not uncommon for politicians. He additionally stated that he met often with consular officers from many Asian and Southeast Asian nations in 2019 regarding enterprise actions overseas.
“Conferences to debate enterprise and commerce between Consular officers and Canadians, politicians or in any other case, are a standard observe,” he stated. “Simply in case you weren’t conscious, I met a couple of days in the past with the Deputy Consul-Basic from China in Toronto and Mr. Wei Zhao.”
The supply stated Mr. Zhao, who got here to Canada in 2018, has additionally been noticed assembly with quite a few constituency staffers for Liberal MPs in Toronto, together with an assistant for Worldwide Commerce Minister Mary Ng. A few of these aides had been requested by Mr. Zhao to maintain their MPs away from pro-Taiwan occasions, based on the supply.
CSIS Director David Vigneault flagged Mr. Chan’s return to public workplace throughout a fall 2022 briefing that he delivered to the Prime Minister and his nationwide safety adviser, Jody Thomas, on Chinese language election interference. He cautioned that Liberal MPs must be vigilant of their dealings with Mr. Chan, based on two different sources. The Globe isn’t figuring out them as a result of they weren’t approved to discuss delicate issues.
In that very same briefing, Mr. Vigneault stated China’s consulate in Toronto had focused 11 candidates from the Larger Toronto Space, a mixture of Liberals and Conservatives, within the 2019 federal election, the sources stated. However the sources stated the CSIS director informed Mr. Trudeau there was no indication China’s interference efforts had helped elect any of them, regardless of the consulate’s makes an attempt to advertise the campaigns on social media and in Chinese language-language media shops.
The Globe has beforehand reported that Mr. Chan had been on CSIS’s radar, stretching way back to 2010, due to alleged shut ties to the Chinese language consulate. He had additionally been concerned in group occasions with leaders of the Confederation of Toronto Chinese language Canadian Organizations, thought-about one of many consulate’s unofficial foyer teams.
In a 2019 briefing for the Prime Minister’s Workplace, one of many national-security sources and a authorities supply say, safety officers additionally flagged Mr. Chan’s Chinese language consular connections quickly after he was recruited by Ms. Ng to function her marketing campaign co-chair in that 12 months’s federal election.
Within the 2019 briefing, safety officers informed senior PMO employees, together with Mr. Trudeau’s Chief of Employees, Katie Telford, that Mr. Chan must be on “your radar” and that “somebody ought to attain out to Mary to be further cautious,” based on one supply. That safety briefing additionally handled international interference, techniques and Chinese language tradecraft, the supply stated.
Ms. Ng informed The Globe that nobody from the PMO informed her to avoid Mr. Chan, who additionally co-chaired her 2017 by-election marketing campaign when she changed veteran Liberal MP John McCallum. The Prime Minister opened the Markham-Thornhill using for Ms. Ng, who had earlier served as his director of appointments, by naming Mr. McCallum as Canada’s ambassador to China.
Mr. Trudeau later fired Mr. McCallum after he criticized the American request for Canada to detain and extradite Huawei chief monetary officer Meng Wanzhou.
Within the interview with The Globe, Ms. Ng stated that Mr. Chan by no means truly took up the position of marketing campaign co-chair in 2019 as a result of, she stated, there have been different succesful volunteers to assist.
“We had been working with so many members of my group – the Chinese language members of our group, Tamil members of my group, Muslim Canadian and Jewish Canadians – so actually it was actually a cross part of individuals. So the marketing campaign, , it simply was working because it was and I felt very supported by lots of people who had been on the bottom,” she stated.
She added: “I haven’t talked to Michael in fairly a while.”
A confidant of Ms. Ng stated the MP quietly dropped Mr. Chan as co-chair after public feedback within the late summer time of 2019 the place he condemned Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators and supported China’s crackdown on them, attributing the protests to alleged manipulation by international actors. Mr. Chan agreed to step apart as a result of he didn’t need his feedback to replicate badly on Ms. Ng, the confidant stated. The Globe isn’t naming the confidant, who was not permitted to publicly focus on the matter.
“Your assertion to me relating to Mary Ng’s marketing campaign is totally false,” Mr. Chan stated. He didn’t elaborate.
The confidant additionally stated that Ms. Ng’s assistant, who used to work for Mr. McCallum, seemingly met Mr. Zhao at Chinese language-Canadian group occasions, usually frequented by Chinese language consulate officers. He pressured, nevertheless, that Ms. Ng has averted assembly Chinese language consulate officers since she grew to become Commerce Minister in 2021. She grew to become Minister for Small Enterprise in a cupboard shuffle in 2018.
Ms. Ng obtained the mandatory vetting to acquire a safety clearance to serve in cupboard in 2018 when she grew to become Small Enterprise Minister.
Within the 2017 by-election marketing campaign, then Chinese language consul-general He Wei gathered Chinese language-Canadian media on the consulate and urged them to help her election, saying they wanted a pal like Mr. McCallum in Ottawa, based on one of many safety sources. Ms. Ng’s confidant stated she was not conscious of the intervention by Mr. He, now a senior official in China’s International Ministry.
CSIS has repeatedly warned that China has been conducting international interference operations in Canada, together with efforts to affect the political course of.
On Thursday, Adam Fisher, CSIS director-general of intelligence assessments, informed the Home of Commons committee on process and home affairs that Beijing makes use of quite a lot of means to affect the political course of, together with making an attempt to get info from unwitting politicians.
“They don’t seem to be essentially counting on educated brokers. They use cutouts. They use proxies. They use group teams. They use diaspora organizations and group leaders,” he stated.
Cherie Henderson, CSIS assistant director of necessities, additionally famous that states like China will funnel cash on to proxies.
“They may use no matter avenue they will to attain their goals,” she informed the committee, which is learning alleged Chinese language interference within the 2019 election.
In June, 2015, Mr. Chan was the topic of a Globe investigation, which revealed that CSIS was involved that the then-minister might have grown too near the Chinese language consulate in Toronto, prompting a senior official to formally warning the province concerning the minister’s alleged conduct in a 2010 briefing.
Round that point, then-premier Dalton McGuinty dismissed the CSIS warnings as baseless. When The Globe introduced the allegations to Ms. Wynne in 2015, she additionally dismissed them. Mr. Chan wrote in 2015 that “there’s a persistent theme that there’s a perceived threat that I’m below undue affect and that I’m an unwitting dupe of a international authorities. That is offensive and completely false.” Mr. Chan has steadfastly denied the assertions made by Canada’s spy company.
He introduced a libel motion towards The Globe, however the case has not gone to courtroom.
In his latest assertion to The Globe, Mr. Chan stated the 2015 article was “particularly egregious and disheartening for somebody like myself who has all the time put the pursuits of Canada and Canadians before everything, and who has a protracted, true report of exemplary public service.”