Canada is considering expelling Chinese diplomat for targeting lawmaker

Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Thursday she is considering expelling a Chinese diplomat after a 2021 intelligence report said the official had sought to track down a Canadian lawmaker’s family in Hong Kong to intimidate them.

“My deputy minister right now is meeting with the Chinese ambassador and summoning him, and that’s why also we’re assessing different options including the expulsion of diplomats,” Joly said in a parliamentary committee meeting.

Joly was replying to a question from Michael Chong, the member of parliament with the opposition Conservative Party who had been singled out in the intelligence report after he backed a motion in parliament declaring China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority genocide.

“Why do you minister continue to allow this diplomat to be accredited in this country?” Chong said.

On Monday Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper said that China sought information about Chong and his family in a likely effort to “make an example” of him and “deter others from taking anti-PRC positions.” The Chinese consulate in Toronto denied the report.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he found out about the intelligence report from the newspaper, and on Wednesday blamed the spy agency for not passing it onto him at the time.

But on Thursday Chong said he had been told by Trudeau’s own national security advisor that the report had been circulated to the Privy Council Office, which supports the prime minister and his Cabinet, in 2021.

Late on Wednesday, China sharply criticized Trudeau’s comment linking Chinese-produced lithium to slave labor, and warned Canada could face consequences if it continues “denigrating maliciously” the human rights situation in China.

“His words disregarded facts and confounded black with white. The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this,” the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement.

“The Canadian side should respect facts, set aside prejudice, and stop denigrating maliciously the human rights situation in China, otherwise Canada will certainly take the consequences.”

Trudeau’s office said it did not have anything to add to his comments from last week.

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