Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Xinhua News Agency journalist Shi Rong, shown with Conservative MP Bob Dechert, has returned home to China after 'flirtatious' e-mails sent to her by Mr. Dechert were made public.

The intrigue launched by coquettish correspondence between Bob Dechert and a Chinese reporter was more of a comedy than a thriller for Canada's spy service.

Emails sent after the Conservative MP's amorous notes to a reporter for China's state news agency were made public suggest some within the Canadian Security Intelligence Service got a chuckle out of the whole affair.

One email chain carries the subject line "By far, my favourite news story this year."

Story continues below advertisement

A recipient of the email wrote back: "Scandal.. haha."

The emails circulated around CSIS in the days after news broke of Mr. Dechert's flirtatious exchange with Xinhua news agency correspondent Shi Rong.

The Canadian Press obtained the documents under the Access to Information Act.

CSIS blanked out nearly all the emails. But the bits that escaped the censor's pen may offer a glimpse at how seriously the spy service took the episode.

A CSIS spokeswoman did not seem to know much about Mr. Dechert, who is parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

"I have an urgent request to find an article ... on Mississauga-Erindale Conservative MP Bob Dechert which alleges that this individual has been hacked," she wrote in one of the emails.

"Apparently the individual is now a parliamentary secretary to DFAIT."

Story continues below advertisement

The rest of the uncensored emails contain news stories about Mr. Dechert and Ms. Shi.

While some emails appear to be light-hearted, other documents show CSIS director Richard Fadden sat in on at least one high-level meeting about the incident. But notes from the Sept. 12 meeting are completely censored.

The Conservative government has played down Mr. Dechert's dalliance with Ms. Shi, insisting no state secrets were spilled.

Neither CSIS nor Mr. Dechert responded to requests for comment.

Mr. Dechert has insisted his relationship with Ms. Shi was an innocent friendship.

"The person is a journalist whom I have come to know as a friend. I met her while doing Chinese-language media communications," Mr. Dechert said in a statement posted on his website last year.

Story continues below advertisement

"These emails are flirtatious, but the friendship remained innocent and simply that – a friendship."

Their correspondence, distributed anonymously to almost 250 recipients in September, dates back to 2010.

"You are so beautiful. I really like the picture of you by the water with your cheeks puffed. That look is so cute. I love it when you do that. Now, I miss you even more," wrote Mr. Dechert in an email sent on April 17, 2010.

Another email sent two days later urged Ms. Shi to watch a vote in the House of Commons.

"I will smile at you. I miss you. Love, Bob."

Ms. Shi has since been reassigned to China.

Story continues below advertisement

The Chinese Communist Party created Xinhua in the 1930s to handle revolutionary propaganda. Run by the Chinese government in Beijing, it has grown into a multimedia empire with offices across the world and throughout China.

Xinhua is also widely suspected by western intelligence agencies of having links to China's spy services.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies