OTTAWA — An Ontario member of parliament will now sit as an independent in the wake of allegations that claim he told the Chinese government interference to hold off on releasing two imprisoned Canadians.
Han Don, the MP for the Toronto-area riding of Don Valley North, told the House of Commons on Wednesday he informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about his resignation from the Liberal caucus and sit as an independent.
It comes after a story by Global News that cited two anonymous government officials claiming that Don spoke with Chinese officials in February 2021 and allegedly told them to delay the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the Canadians detained in Beijing at the time.
China arrested the two men in December 2018 in response to Canada detaining Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies.
Don told Global News in an email that while he had a discussion with Consul General Han Tao, he denies advising Beijing to delay releasing Kovrig and Spavor from prison.
“Let me be clear, what has been reported is false and I will defend myself against these absolutely untrue claims,” said Don in the House of Commons.
“I have never and I would never advocate or support the violation of the basic human rights of any Canadian, of anyone, anywhere. Period.”
Don said sitting in the Trudeau government caucus is a privilege, but that his presence on the Liberal side of the house could be viewed “as a conflict of duty” and the wrong place to be during an independent investigation, which is currently ongoing.
He added that stepping away from the Liberal party and sitting as an independent MP would allow the business of Parliament to go uninterrupted as he works to clear his name.
“I am a proud Liberal and I am proud of the work our government does day in and day out to serve the people of Canada,” said Don.
“I don’t want to distract from that important work.”
Don addressed Spavor and Kovrig during his statement, assuring them and their families that he advocated for them as a parliamentarian and “did nothing to cause them any harm.” He told the people in his riding that he would continue to serve them in Ottawa. Don also had a message for his family, whom he says came to Canada for freedom.
“Thank you for all the support and love you give me,” said Don, breaking into tears.
“The truth will protect us.”