The electoral riding of Don Valley North is a melting pot.
According to the 2021 Canada Census, it is 29.2% Chinese, 25.1% White, 13.8% South Asian, 7.9% West Asian, 5.1% Black, 5.0% Filipino, 3.9% Korean, 2.5% Arab, 2.2% Latin American, and 1.2% Southeast Asian
Thirty-one languages are spoken.
What makes it stand out in recent days, however, is that its federal member of Parliament Han Dong and his provincial counterpart Vincent Ke have both left their party’s caucus to sit as Independents after being labelled by anonymous CSIS operatives as part of the Chinese election interference.
Coincidence? One would think not.
Both are Chinese nationals. Both have resigned with great fanfare—Dong from the federal Liberals; Ke from the provincial Progressive Conservatives—to fight for the cleansing of their names.
Dong got jumped again on Wednesday when the same CSIS sources accused him via the media of visiting the Chinese consulate in Toronto to beg for no early release of the Two Michaels, the China-jailed Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
An early release would favour the federal Conservatives, Dong allegedly argued to Han Tao, China’s consul-general in Toronto.
At least that’s the spilled story.
The Two Michaels, as they grew to be known, were scooped off the streets of China as a quid pro quo for Canada arresting Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on behalf of the Americans for allegedly courting technological deals with Iran.
They spent 1,019 days in Chinese prisons.
Ford revealed this week that his former chief of staff, Jamie Wallace, was briefed by CSIS about Ke. The Ontario government said it requested the briefing after Global News first asked Ford’s office about allegations concerning Ke.
The Premier’s office confirmed the briefing happened last fall. Ke left the PC caucus on March 10, when Global reported on allegations that. Ke was part of a Beijing-led effort to interfere with the 2019 federal election, which he denies.
Ke has called the allegations “false and defamatory,” but said he does not want to be a distraction for the government.
Ford’s office called the sparse and “very secretive.”
“It’s always sensitive so it’s kind of tough to answer all the details but it was quick. I was briefed through my staff and let’s see what happens here,” Ford said.
“With CSIS, everything’s a big secret. They don’t give you a proper briefing in my opinion. They will say a few comments and ‘We can’t tell you; we can’t tell you; we can’t tell you.’ Well they’re in charge of national security so let them continue on with their investigation. We’ll co-operate any way we can and let them do their job. But they’re very secretive.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has ordered two closed-door probes into Chinese election interference that will be reviewed by special rapporteur David Johnston, the former governor-general.
Ford declined to say whether he supports a public inquiry into the matter.
“That’s up to the federal government if they want to do that. I can tell you one thing, what people want, doesn’t matter provincially, federally or municipally, they want transparency in their elections, they don’t want any inference from any outside source,” he said.
“And that’s what we believe in and we’ll always fight for transparency, when it comes to anything, including elections.”