World News

Trudeau Hints He’s Open to Han Dong Rejoining Liberal Caucus Following Johnston’s Report

Following Special Rapporteur David Johnston’s report on foreign interference that claimed an allegation against former Liberal MP Han Dong was false, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted he is open to the now-Independent MP rejoining the party.

“Han Dong chose to step away from caucus so that he could clear his name; so that he could continue to serve his community while he was fighting the allegations laid against him. Mr. Johnston was very clear about the non-substance of those allegations,” Trudeau told reporters during a press conference in Winnipeg on May 24.

“I look forward to conversations with Han about whether he wants to come back and whether his fight to clear his name is ongoing.”

The same day, Dong told CBC News he “absolutely” wanted to return to the Liberal caucus. His comments came after he released a statement saying he felt “vindicated” by Johnston’s report on foreign election interference.

Dong, who sat as a Liberal MP in Toronto since 2019, resigned in March 2023 to become an Independent MP following a Global News article alleging he advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should not release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians detained by China.

On March 22, Hong said he was taking the “extraordinary step” to resign and sit as an Independent MP because his presence in the Liberal caucus could be seen by some as a conflict of duty. He also said the move was intended to avoid interrupting the business of government while he looked to clear his name.

Report on Allegations

The special rapporteur’s report on foreign election interference, released on May 23, said that the allegation of Dong’s advice to Beijing about the two Canadians was “false.” Johnston said while Dong did discuss the two Michaels with a People’s Republic of China (PRC) official, he did not suggest that Beijing should extend their detention.

In the report, Johnston also addressed the Global News allegation that Dong was one of the 11 candidates who received funding from Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agents in the 2019 election. According to the report, the Chinese consulate in Toronto funneled approximately $250,000 in funding to the election candidates.

Johnston said there were “irregularities” involving the Toronto Chinese Consulate and Dong’s nomination as the Liberal candidate in the riding of Don Valley North, but there was no evidence Dong was aware of this. However, Johnston did acknowledge that Dong “continued to maintain close relationships with PRC consular officials at least through the 2021 [federal election].”

The report did not address allegations that Dong met with a senior official from Beijing’s United Front Work Department (UFWD) in New York State in 2019. The UFWD is an arm of the Chinese state that aims to infiltrate and influence political activities abroad.

Shortly following the release of the report, Dong released a statement where he expressed gratitude for Johnston’s report. Dong also said he was “moving forward” with his $15 million libel lawsuit against Global News and Corus Entertainment, which he first announced in April.

The Epoch Times reached out to Dong for comment several times but didn’t hear back.

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