The House of Commons on Wednesday voted to open a parliamentary committee probe into allegations of an intimidation campaign by the Chinese government against Conservative MP Michael Chong and other lawmakers.
The issue will now be taken up by the standing committee on procedure and House affairs, which is already studying the larger issue of foreign interference in Canada, including recent federal elections.
Members in the House applauded when Chong voted in favour of the privilege motion he tabled on Monday.
Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei this week over a newly surfaced 2021 report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which alleged that the Toronto consular officer sought to intimidate Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong because of the MP’s criticism of China’s human-rights record.
Other MPs were also allegedly targeted in the same manner over their support of a February 2021 vote condemning China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority. The names of those MPs have not been disclosed.
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China responded by expelling a Canadian diplomat from Shanghai, with the Liberals warning that the move could also inspire economic retaliation — leaving industries bracing for blowback.
The motion passed on Wednesday specifically calls on the parliamentary committee to review Zhao’s alleged “intimidation campaign” against Chong and other Canadian lawmakers.
The Liberal government is facing further questions on when it first became aware of the alleged Chinese campaign against Chong.
Speaking in question period last Thursday, the Conservative MP said he had been informed by the prime minister’s current national security adviser, Jody Thomas, that CSIS sent the July 20, 2021 intelligence assessment to the national security adviser in the Privy Council Office as well as to “relevant departments.”
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But Global News reported on Tuesday that none of the three advisors who served in that office in 2021 recall receiving the report in question.
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Chong has not made himself available to answer questions about the recent briefing he says he received from Thomas.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said he first learned about the allegations in the media.
After Chong told the House of Commons last week the report had made its way to the Privy Council’s Office and the national security advisor, the prime minister told reporters that he “shared the best information I had at the time.”
Trudeau has since directed CSIS to inform the government about any threats made against officials or their families, regardless of whether they are considered actionable.
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