Two national security sources stated that Dong suggested to Han Tao, China’s consul general in Toronto, that if Beijing released the Two Michaels, whom China accused of espionage, the Conservatives would benefit, according to Global News.
According to the sources, Dong also recommended that Beijing show some progress in the Kovrig and Spavor cases to help the ruling Liberal Party, which was facing an uproar over China's inhumane treatment of the Two Michaels.
Dong has denied the allegations, stating that he called for the immediate release of the Two Michaels.
In an emailed statement to Global News sent Tuesday, Don said he did not advise Beijing to delay releasing Kovrig and Spavor from prison.
"I raised the status of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and called for their immediate release," he wrote.
"At every opportunity before they returned home, I adamantly demanded their release to Canada without delay. Any suggestions otherwise are false and are attempts to mislead you and your readers, and slander me."
The Prime Minister's Office stated that it "only became aware that a conversation took place after Mr. Dong told us, following recent media questions."
The detention of the Two Michaels was widely perceived as being in retaliation for Canada's detention of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive facing extradition to the United States. Beijing favored the re-election of Justin Trudeau's Liberals in the 2021 election, according to the national security sources, citing reports by Canada's Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
However, Beijing was "hedging" by secretly aiding several Conservative candidates to support its stances and attacking other Tories deemed to be critics of the Chinese Communist Party.
The alleged conversation between Dong and Consul General Han illustrates how political interference is not just affecting institutions but also has an impact on people – in this case, with two lives at stake.
CSIS reporting had already classified Dong as a "close friend of the Consulate based on his history of calls" when the February 2021 conversation occurred between Dong and Consul General Han, according to the national security sources.
Following the February conversation between the consul general and the MP, sources say that CSIS questioned whether Dong was acting outside appropriate diplomatic channels.
CSIS also deliberated whether or not the conversation proceeded because he believed it was within his purview as an MP to find solutions, according to the sources. Concerns regarding the Dong communications were briefed up to CSIS management in Ottawa, the sources said.
In response to the allegations, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh called for a public inquiry, calling the accusations "serious."
Trudeau has defended Dong in the past, saying "I want to make everyone understand fully that Han Dong is an outstanding member of our team, and suggestions that he is somehow not loyal to Canada should not be entertained.”
Global News granted anonymity to sources on the Dong investigation because they face possible prosecution for sharing information on China's allegedly vast subversion of Canada's democracy, including clandestine interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
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