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Han Dong appears as a witness at the Public Inquiry Into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions on April 2 in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

A Liberal Party member warned Han Dong that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was keeping tabs on him, shortly after the spy agency briefed the party in the fall of 2019 on alleged Chinese state interference in the nomination contest of Don Valley North, according to a senior national-security official.

The Foreign Interference Commission has heard testimony that CSIS provided a classified briefing on Sept. 28, 2019, to Liberal Party officials, who received national-security clearances, about alleged irregularities in the nomination that Mr. Dong won on Sept. 12 of that year.

Mr. Dong went on to win the riding in Canada’s Oct. 21, 2019, general election. He resigned from the Liberal caucus last year to sit as an Independent after allegations arose about a controversial 2021 conversation he had with then-Toronto Chinese consul-general Han Tao.

A summary of a CSIS report tabled at the inquiry last week alleged China had compelled students to vote for Mr. Dong’s nomination under the threat of losing their student visas and possible consequences for their families back home. The summary also alleged some students carried false documents. CSIS said some information was learned prior to election day, while other pieces were learned after the vote.

CSIS said it believed China was attempting to manipulate the nomination vote as a part of strategy to support political candidates that “would reinforce China’s overall strategic interests in Canada.”

A national-security official this week told The Globe and Mail that CSIS told the party officials on Sept. 28, 2019, that the security agency suspected China and its proxies helped secure the nomination for Mr. Dong. CSIS also had concerns about the involvement of former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Michael Chan, now deputy mayor of Markham, Ont., the official said.

CSIS Director recalled after PMO staff say they weren’t told about China interference in 2019 and 2021 elections

CSIS has for years targeted Mr. Chan, an influential player in the Chinese-Canadian community in the Greater Toronto Area with close ties to Chinese diplomats. Mr. Chan has insisted he is a loyal Canadian and testified at the inquiry that he played a minor role in the nomination campaign, although he encouraged Mr. Dong to seek a seat in Parliament.

The national-security official told The Globe that several weeks after the Sept. 28 briefing, CSIS learned from a trusted source that a Liberal Party member tipped off Mr. Dong that he was being watched by the security agency. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the source who risks prosecution under the Security of Information Act.

Mr. Dong did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Liberal Party director Azam Ishmael, who was part of that CSIS briefing, told The Globe that “at no point have I spoken about classified information with people that did not have the security clearance to receive the information.”

In testimony at the commission Tuesday, Jeremy Broadhurst, national campaign manager in 2019 and now senior adviser to the Prime Minister, said he informed Mr. Trudeau of the allegations against Mr. Dong, two days after the CSIS briefing in late September.

The Liberal Leader was in the midst of an election campaign, and had to be briefed in a secure fashion. Mr. Broadhurst felt it was important to let Mr. Trudeau know about the information gathered by CSIS. But he also told Mr. Trudeau that party officials in Don Valley North could not substantiate the spy agency’s allegations about the bussing and intimidation of Chinese students.

“I recommended that no action should be taken,” Mr. Broadhurst said. “I thought the bar for overturning that ... that bar should be extremely high. He [Mr. Trudeau] decided at that time there was no action for him to take.”

He said CSIS did not recommend that the Liberal Party drop Mr. Dong before the deadline to remove a candidate from the ballot.

Mr. Trudeau was also briefed by national-security officials in late September or early October, 2019, about allegations of foreign interference in the nomination race, according to documents tabled at the inquiry.

Irregularities involving the Don Valley contest had been discussed among national-security and election-oversight officials, and the Prime Minister got another briefing from federal security officials on details of “PRC-linked individuals interfering with the 2019 Liberal nomination” in February, 2021, the inquiry was told.

On Monday, the inquiry heard from senior civil servants who sat on the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol panel for the 2019 election, which had a mandate to warn the public during the past two elections. Nathalie Drouin, former deputy minister of justice and now the Prime Minister’s national-security and intelligence adviser, said the panel recommended CSIS alert the Liberal Party about the nomination irregularities as a “mitigation” measure.

She said the panel also told CSIS and other agencies to provide any emerging intelligence about the nomination race. The federal elections commissioner was also informed about the intelligence because of “potential irregularities when it comes to funding,” Ms. Drouin added.

In a previous in-camera interview with the commission, Mr. Dong never mentioned meeting international high school students from China and said his campaign had rented only one bus to bring seniors to the nomination contest.

Last week, however, Mr. Dong sent in supplementary evidence to the inquiry, outlining his outreach to students from a private high school for mainly Mandarin-speaking students from China. He also clarified that there was a bus, organized by the school, that carried Chinese international students to vote in the race.

Asked if there was Chinese intervention in Canadian elections, Mr. Dong said: “I see reports about that. I presently don’t see any evidence.”

He also acknowledged that he spoke to a top Chinese diplomat about imprisoned Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. But he testified that he doesn’t recall advising the consul-general that releasing the two men would affirm “the effectiveness of a hard-line Canadian approach” to China, as just-released intelligence alleged.

Mr. Dong was responding to questions arising from a summary of CSIS reporting about a phone call between him and then-consul general Han Tao from February, 2021, that was tabled at the commission last week.

“I don’t remember but it doesn’t make a lot of sense here,” he replied when asked whether he said the immediate release of the two Michaels would not change the opposition party’s hard-line stand.

A summary of a CSIS document, based on taped conversations, tabled last week shows that Mr. Dong “expressed the view that even if the PRC [People’s Republic of China] released the ‘Two Michaels’ at that moment, opposition parties would view the PRC’s action as an affirmation of the effectiveness of a hardline Canadian approach to the PRC.”

Mr. Dong insisted that he had always pressed Chinese diplomats for the early release of the two men.

In testimony Tuesday, Brian Clow, the Prime Minister’s deputy chief of staff, said the summary of the conversation shows that Global News was incorrect when they reported that Mr. Dong had told the Chinese diplomat to delay the release of the two Michaels.

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