Michael Chan and the Troubling Thumbprint of the Chinese Communist Party in Canada

Ontario Immigration minister subject of CSIS warning, hired staff who've acted in interests of Chinese regime
June 17, 2015 1:05 pm Last Updated: June 18, 2015 11:22 pm

TORONTO—A Globe and Mail report that confirms years of coverage by the Epoch Times recounts the story behind Ontario Immigration Minister Michael Chan, who has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. 

In a bombshell story that includes several incidents previously covered by Epoch Times, Globe reporter Craig Offman wrote about Chan’s role as a conduit between Canada and China, and that Chan was the subject of a warning by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service(CSIS) to the Ontario provincial government in August 2010.

Chan has been a vocal supporter of the regime.

Offman uncovered that Chan was one of two provincial ministers former CSIS Director Richard Fadden was referring to in comments made in 2010. Fadden warned that there were provincial ministers under the influence of a foreign regime.

“You invite somebody back to the homeland. You pay [for] their trips and all of a sudden you discover that when an event is occurring that is of particular interest to country X, you call up and you ask the person to take a particular view,” Fadden told CBC.

At the time of his remarks, Fadden was fiercely denounced, sometimes by groups that intelligence experts see as front organizations for the Chinese regime.

Fadden faced a political firestorm that saw him hauled before a Parliamentary committee and forced to backpedal. At the time of Fadden’s comments, the federal Liberals had asked for Fadden’s resignation. But shortly after those events, CSIS approached the Ontario government to alert the province to its concerns about Chan, reported Offman.

Chan’s Heart ‘With the Motherland’

Chan is a polarizing figure in the Chinese community, Offman noted, due to his closeness to Beijing—a position that raises concerns among those disturbed by the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to influence Chinese-Canadians.

Chan has been a vocal supporter of the regime, making comments first reported by the Epoch Times and later confirmed and expanded in Offman’s report. 

At a celebration in China of the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2009, state-run Chinese media outlet Xinhua reported Chan as saying, “The motherland is great … the motherland is strong … our overseas Chinese hearts are with the motherland. We are proud of the motherland for its development.”

Offman added more of that speech, noting Chan also said, “Today, seeing the army on parade with such precision and the high spirits of the people, I am moved even more by the strength and power of my motherland.”

Chan never denied the quote to the Epoch Times, but did deny it to Offman, who interviewed the Xinhua journalist who reported the comment. That reporter stood by the quote.

Chan’s close ties to the regime worry some Canadians, particularly democracy activists, reported Offman. 

The Epoch Times has spoken with other critics of the regime worried about Chan’s ties. At the heart of the issue is the Chinese regime’s extensive efforts to silence Canadian citizens who criticize it or reveal its human rights abuses. Such efforts include routinely threatening Canadians’ family members in China. Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin discovered that firsthand recently when her father, who lives in China was threatened for her human rights advocacy. 

Regime’s Influence in Canada 

Meanwhile the regime also makes extensive efforts to influence the Canadian government through allies who can advance its interests and broader efforts to extend its soft power. 

One of those efforts is the spread of Confucius Institutes—Chinese languages and culture schools Beijing uses to extend its soft power. According to now-disgraced former Toronto District School Board Chair Chris Bolton, Chan was an important ally in the now abandoned efforts to get the institutes into Toronto schools. 

Chan has been an important Chinese face for the Ontario Liberals.

Confucius Institutes discriminate against groups targeted by the regime and actively recruit students to propagate the regime’s views on Tibet. Fadden also raised concerns about the institutes.

Besides supporting the institutes, Chan also hired Wilson Chan and Michael Huang, two men the Epoch Times has previously reported on. 

Wilson Chan is the former editor of Sing Tao, a Chinese daily newspaper whose Canadian operations are partly owned by the Toronto Star. Chan was fired after Epoch Times revealed Sing Tao reworked a translated Toronto Star story to reflect the Chinese Communist Party’s views on Tibet and protests against the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. 

Wilson Chan was then hired to be Michael Chan’s communications adviser before moving on to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office as press secretary of ethnic media. Epoch Times has routinely covered the Chinese regime’s influence over Chinese media outlets and how these outlets propagate the regime’s views within Canada.

Michael Huang, as previously reported by Epoch Times, was a policy advisor in former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Michael Colle’s office shortly after acting as a board member for the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada (CPAC), another organization with close ties to Beijing. 

Colle gave CPAC $250,000 in grants that the group had not formally applied for. CPAC is a member of the National Congress of Chinese Canadians (NCCC), a group known to advance the Chinese Communist Party’s interest in Canada

Defector Chen Yonglin, formerly the first secretary at the Chinese Consulate in Sydney, Australia, confirmed after defecting in 2005 that the NCCC and its equivalents in other countries are at the top of a pyramid of groups set up by the Chinese Embassy and consulates in Canada charged with working to control and influence the Chinese community and the Canadian government. 

Offman noted the Epoch Times coverage of Huang’s advocacy on interests of the Chinese regime. Huang is working in Michael Chan’s constituency office. 

Not a Cozy Fit

More recently, Chan has been mentoring Chinese candidates for the federal Liberal Party. Those efforts have spurred rumblings from Chinese democracy advocates in Canada.

Meanwhile, Offman noted, China remains under authoritarian rule “that terrorizes and tortures political foes, religious groups and ethnic minorities. Its spying on trade partners grows ever more blatant. None of this is a cozy fit with Canadian values of due process, democracy and accommodation.”

The Globe article noted Chan’s prowess as a fundraiser for his party, regularly drawing high-profile federal Liberals like former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, a reputation Chan developed prior to entering politics. 

Chan has been an important Chinese face for the Ontario Liberals. He swept his first election in Markham, a community now 50 percent Chinese, and was immediately made revenue minister and then citizenship and immigration minister. Chan continues to be a star fundraiser, Offman reported.

When asked about China’s human rights record, Chan told Offman the country now lets its people travel abroad, describing that as a once-unfathomable freedom.

Chan fiercely denies any wrongdoing on his part and federal Liberal MP John McCallum has compared the investigation of Chan to McCarthyism. Chan told Offman that he had nothing to hide from CSIS or anyone else. He is defended by his party leader and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Following the Globe’s articles on Chan, he wrote an open letter denouncing the stories as a “re-hash of ludicrous allegations.”

 

This article was edited to remove comments attributed to Justice Minister Peter MacKay by the Canadian Press that suggested MacKay said there was  an ongoing investigation of Chan. MacKay later refuted the substance of how those comments were reported.