Ontario MPP Seeks Crowdfunding for Defamation Lawsuit Against Global News

Ontario MPP Seeks Crowdfunding for Defamation Lawsuit Against Global News
The Ontario legislature in Toronto on Feb. 20, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn)
Andrew Chen
Ontario MPP Vincent Ke is using social media to solicit funding for his defamation lawsuit against Global News, after the media outlet’s reporting alleged him to be part of a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) election interference scheme.
In an April 13 news release, Ke said his lawyers delivered a libel notice to Global News and its journalist in relation to “a false and defamatory March 10, 2023 article titled ‘Ontario legislature member is part of alleged Beijing 2019 election-interference network: source.’”

“The defamatory words have exposed me to a campaign of hateful and racist threats and attacks and has significantly tarnished my reputation,” he wrote.

The Global News article cited two Privy Council Office (PCO) intelligence reports and several unnamed sources “with knowledge of the investigation into Beijing’s covert efforts during the 2019 federal election.”
The article said that neither PCO report identified Ke by name but that the sources asserted that Ke served as a “financial intermediary” by receiving $50,000 from the Chinese Consulate in Toronto, which was part a larger sum—in the $250,000 range—that was channelled through “a series of intermediaries.”
Ke, then a Progressive Conservative member in Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government, resigned to sit as an independent later the same day the article was published.
Ke’s use of WeChat—a social media platform widely used in the Chinese community—to solicit funds for his lawsuit was first reported by the National Post.

The libel notice threatened a defamation lawsuit unless Global News publishes a retraction and an apology by April 17—which Global didn’t comply with.

The Epoch Times reached out to Global News’s parent company Corus Entertainment for comment but didn’t hear back immediately. Global News defended its story, saying that its reporting is “governed by a rigorous set of journalistic principles.”

WeChat Fundraising

In his WeChat post, Ke wrote in simplified Chinese: “I believe you’ve already read the news reports. Recently, a series of malicious slanders targeting me, led by Global News, have caused a bad impact on the entire society. They have generated unwarranted doubts about Chinese-Canadian politicians’ election victories and their loyalty to Canada.”

Ke continued: “To stop this trend of wanton smearing of Chinese-Canadians and to restore the public’s trust, I must take up the weapon of law and let the public know the truth.”

He said he has entrusted a friend from an accounting firm to open a trust account to receive donations, and that the account is “dedicated to fundraising and litigation.”

The Epoch Times reached out to Ke for comment but didn’t hear back. Multiple calls to his office went unanswered.

Jonathan Lisus, one of three lawyers listed in his libel notice sent from law firm Lax O'Sullivan Lisus Gottlieb LLP, also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Epoch Times sought comment from two provincial government bodies on whether Ke’s use of crowdfunding to solicit donations for a civil lawsuit has any implications under Ontario laws governing elections, election financing, and MPPs’ ethical obligations.

Elections Ontario declined to comment, saying that it “regulates political entities under the Election Act and the Election Finances Act” and that “matters related to sitting MPPs are outside of our jurisdiction.” It referred the issue to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario (OICO).
The OICO, citing the Members’ Integrity Act, told The Epoch Times that it “has no role or authority under any of Ontario’s elections laws” and that the integrity commissioner can only provide “confidential advice” directly to MPPs upon their request but cannot “comment publicly on whether a situation falls within the requirements of the act.”

It added that a member can also ask the commissioner to give an opinion on whether another member has violated the rules, and that such a request would result in a report that will be made public.

According to the act, an MPP “shall not accept a fee, gift or personal benefit that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his or her duties of office.”

Meanwhile, the National Post article reported that Ke’s spokesperson Christina Liu told the news outlet the MPP has consulted with the Ontario integrity commissioner and ensured that the funding drive complies with all provincial rules.