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David Vigneault, the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has confirmed to Conservative MP Michael Chong that members of his family living in Hong Kong were targeted by the Chinese regime in 2021, according to a news report.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the House of Commons on May 2 that he spoke with Chong that same day about the matter and also made sure that the MP received a briefing from Canada’s “top security officials to ensure that he has all the information he needs.”
The Globe and Mail reported some hours later that Chong was indeed briefed by Vigneault and the prime minister’s national security adviser Jody Thomas in an unprecedented meeting arranged by Trudeau.
Trudeau reportedly attended the meeting—which took place in a West Block office on Parliament Hill—for around 10 minutes before leaving, at which time Vigneault told Chong that both he and his family were targeted by Beijing after he sponsored a parliamentary motion in 2021 calling China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities a genocide.
Vigneault also confirmed to Chong that a Chinese diplomat in Canada named Zhao Wei was involved in the threats.
Thomas told Chong during the meeting that the government is investigating why he was not alerted to the threat back when CSIS became aware of it in 2021.
The Globe initially reported on May 1 that a 2021 CSIS intelligence assessment on interference in Canada by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) identified that one of the regime’s spy services took “specific actions to target Canadian MPs” behind the House motion on China’s genocide of Uyghurs.
CSIS reportedly said the CCP’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) sought information on one of the MPs’ relatives who may be located in China to enact “further potential sanctions,” and an unnamed national security source told the Globe that that MP was Michael Chong, and also said Zhao was working on the issue.
Chong reportedly said that during his meeting with Vigneault and Thomas on May 2, the CSIS head said he was authorized to read to Chong parts of the related 2021 intelligence assessment because it concerned “a threat to you and your family.”
Chong said in a statement on May 1 that the federal government never informed him of the threats by Beijing in 2021.
Trudeau denied knowing about the threats prior to the Globe’s reporting this month, while Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre accused him of otherwise, and said Zhao should have been expelled.
“The government knew about this two years ago, yet it kept the agent [Zhao] accredited, allowing him to continue threatening the MP’s family and other Canadians of Chinese origin,” Poilievre said during question period on May 2.
“That is simply not true,” Trudeau replied. “It is irresponsible to suggest that our government would sit on such a matter.”
The prime minister added that, based on briefings he received, he knows that “steps have been taken to protect members when they could attract the attention of foreign actors.”