Ontario cabinet minister slams claims of Chinese influence as debunked, false
Published Wednesday, June 17, 2015 3:44PM EDT
Michael Chan, the minister of tourism, culture, and sport speaks to the press in Toronto on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012.
An Ontario cabinet minister says a newspaper article about concerns from Canada's spy agency that he was under the influence of the Chinese government is little more than a rehash of debunked, "ludicrous" allegations.The Globe and Mail reported Tuesday that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warned the Ontario government in 2010 that Michael Chan may have been susceptible to Chinese influence and had "unusually close ties to Chinese officials."
In a statement today Chan says the article repeats five-year-old, unfounded suggestions and notes that the paper itself at the time in 2010 called the allegations "reckless, foolish and contradictory."Premier Kathleen Wynne says Chan, who is now the minister of citizenship, immigration and international trade, has served with honour in the Ontario government and is one of the hardest-working people she has ever met.
She says there have been no specific allegations and the concerns are "baseless."
Chan told the Globe and Mail that CSIS alleged he owned property in China and had asked the then-consul general directly for a visa and that if favours were granted, reciprocation could be expected -- allegations he said were not true.
"The body of the article contains a blend of innuendo and half-suggestions," he wrote in his statement Wednesday.
"Although there are no specific allegations, provocative words like treason and espionage are used for no reason. There is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government. This is offensive and totally false. This personal attack is deeply offensive to me and to my family."
Wynne, who defended Chan the day the article was published, continued to do so Wednesday.
"There are some who may believe that there is something sinister about maintaining deep ties with one's country of origin, or one's culture," the premier wrote in a statement. "I believe the opposite and so do millions of Canadians who have immigrated to Canada."
Chan's spokesman told the newspaper a 2009 delegation to China and discussions about cultural events were the reasons for Chan's frequent contact with the consul general.
Chan accompanied Wynne on a trade mission to China last year. He returned to the country on another trade mission this year focusing on the agri-food sector.
As someone who came to Canada as a young man he is proud of his Chinese heritage but is first and foremost Canadian, Chan said in his statement.
"I owe all the success I have had to this country and, most particularly, to the province of Ontario," he wrote.
"Maintaining deep, meaningful connections with one's culture, with one's country of origin, is something millions of Canadians cherish. Our strong, personal ties around the world are a good thing -- they are an integral part of the foundation of Canada and Ontario."