Trudeau says he accepts MP’s choice to leave Liberal caucus

Ottawa –

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he accepts Han Dong’s decision to leave the Liberal Party caucuses after allegations he spoke to Chinese diplomats about delaying the release of two Canadians.

Trudeau on Friday sidestepped questions about whether he believed the claim, saying only that Canadians should see Mr Dong’s “strong” speech for themselves.

At a press conference with U.S. President Joe Biden, who was visiting Ottawa, he said he fully accepts that Don left the Liberal caucuses “to vigorously challenge these allegations.” .

The prime minister also added that he and Biden had discussed foreign interference, which he said was “unacceptable”, whether from China or other countries such as Russia and Iran.

Dong, a member of Congress in Toronto, announced Wednesday night that he would appear as an independent lawmaker and said he would defend himself in the House of Representatives against “absolutely false allegations” about alleged involvement in China’s interference. rice field.

Global News said that night, citing an unnamed security source, that Don had been arrested in Toronto in February 2021 with Chinese diplomats about Michael Speiber and Michael Kovrig, who had been detained in China for just over two years at the time. claimed to have spoken.

Two Canadian men were detained in China in December 2018. It comes just a week after the RCMP arrested his Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a US extradition warrant.

Global News claimed Dong told the Chinese consul general in Toronto that releasing the man would benefit the Conservative Party, but that showing some “progress” in the case would also help the Liberal Party.

Canadian Press has not independently verified this claim.

The MP said he had met with diplomats, but refuted any suggestions that he had urged China to delay the release of Kovrig and Speiber and told the House that they had done nothing to harm them. There is

Kovrig and Speiber were treated as guests of honor when Biden addressed the House on Friday.

MPs and others who filled the gallery gave the man four or more standing ovations. It was their first public appearance together since returning to Canada in September 2021.

Conservative Party leader Pierre Polivre told reporters it was emotional to meet Kovrig and Speiber, who he described as “two brave men who survived the unimaginable hell”.

Poirivre added, “Everyone in the conference room welcomed them so warmly, which made me very happy.”

Tory declined to address the allegations against Mr Dong, but reiterated his position that a public inquiry is the only way to find out the truth about alleged Chinese interference in Canadian affairs. rice field.

He noted that all opposition parties agreed with it, and even Don himself voted in favor of the motion for a public inquiry the day after he left the Liberal caucuses.

“For his sake, for everyone’s sake, and most importantly for the truth, the prime minister must end the cover-up and call for a full public inquiry,” Polivre said. rice field.

Trudeau has not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry, but said such a recommendation would have to come from former governor-general David Johnston, who was recently appointed as special rapporteur to look into the matter. Stated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 24, 2023.

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