Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan is disputing reports in The Globe and Mail that said CSIS warned Queen's Park in 2010 about concerns he was susceptible to foreign interference.
In a statement, which was delivered on Monday to reporters at the legislature, Mr. Chan called the Globe articles a "deeply offensive personal attack" and demanded an apology and retraction. He claimed that the reporting, conducted over a period of 10 months, was "little more than a re-hash of ludicrous allegations published – and debunked – five years ago."
Last week, The Globe report revealed for the first time that Mr. Chan was one of the Crown ministers former Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden was referring to when he suggested publicly in June, 2010, that the spy agency believed two provincial ministers were susceptible to foreign influence, a sweeping observation that drew wide criticism.
While Mr. Fadden recanted some of his earlier assertions, The Globe also revealed that CSIS brought its concerns over the minister's close relationship with the consul-general to Queen's Park. The province's top bureaucrat passed the information to former premier Dalton McGuinty's then-chief of staff. Mr. McGuinty later said the allegations made by CSIS were unfounded but did not name the minister in question, nor did he elaborate on what due diligence was done after CSIS had brought forward its concerns.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said last week that she learned of the allegations only when The Globe presented them to the Ontario government. She called those concerns "baseless."
Globe Editor-in-chief David Walmsley said the articles contained previously undisclosed information.
"To suggest The Globe's articles reveal nothing new is false," he said.
"This work revealed significant new pieces of information, including the fact CSIS visited the Ontario government and expressed concerns about Mr. Chan – something that had never been previously disclosed. We stand by the stories."
The Globe reported Mr. Chan was never under investigation for espionage and was never the target of a formal probe by CSIS.
Apart from the CSIS revelations, The Globe also reported that Mr. Chan lobbied for a deal between the Toronto District School Board and the Confucius Institute, the controversial Mandarin language and culture program run by the Chinese government. He also hired two aides with controversial pasts: one who has a history of organizing protests and counterprotests that advance the Chinese agenda, the other who was implicated in censoring anti-China sentiment from a Chinese-language daily newspaper.
The matter sheds light on a profound disconnect between Canada's biggest province and its spy agency on the question of foreign influence.
Since the allegations have been aired, others have joined the Premier in supporting Mr. Chan. They include current and former cabinet members such as Glen Murray and Dwight Duncan, as well as support from the Chinese embassy in last Thursday's local edition of the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao.
At the end of his Monday statement, Mr. Chan threatened to sue The Globe. He did not take questions.