OTTAWA — A senior government official says Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc is leading a process to determine Independent MP Han Dong's possible return to the Liberal caucus.
The Canadian Press is not naming the source because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the process.
Han Dong, a Toronto-area MP, resigned from the government caucus in March saying he wanted to clear his name following allegations published in media reports.
Global News reported, citing unnamed national security sources, that Dong told a Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that releasing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor would benefit the Conservatives.
The claim was deemed "false" by Canada's foreign interference watchdog.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has left the door open to Dong rejoining the Liberal caucus, and Dong has expressed that desire in recent media reports.
Dong is suing Global News. The outlet said in a recent statement that it took painstaking efforts to verify its reporting.
"We believe in the integrity of our journalism in all the reporting in this series, and the critical role it plays in seeking accountability and transparency on issues vital to the public interest."
A first report from former governor general David Johnston, who was appointed as a special rapporteur to investigate foreign interference, said he was advised that there was just one piece of intelligence that spoke to the allegation against Dong.
It led him to his conclusion: "The allegation is false."
Johnston said that while Dong maintained "close relationships" with Chinese consular officials at least through the 2021 election, and did discuss the case of Kovrig and Spavor with the Chinese diplomat, "he did not suggest to the official that (China) extend their detention."
Dong was first elected to Parliament as the Liberal MP for Don Valley North in 2019, and was re-elected in 2021. He resigned from the Liberal caucus March 22.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2023.
The Canadian Press