Why a Toronto MP Thinks He Was a Victim of CCP’s Honey Trap

Omid Ghoreishi

MP Kevin Vuong, who says he himself was a target of the Chinese regime, says the recent report from the foreign interference inquiry shows Beijing’s extensive meddling in Canada, but questions remain as to what action the government will take to rein it in.

“Now let’s see if the government will do anything,” Mr. Vuong, Independent MP for Spadina—Fort York in Toronto, told The Epoch Times.

The young MP was once an up-and-coming star in politics, before what he describes as a “honey trap” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) derailed his path.

Escaping Communism

As the son of refugees who fled Vietnam during the war, Mr. Vuong is familiar with the perils of communist regimes. His parents and relatives, who were ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs in Vietnam, were targeted for persecution by the communists.

“They seized everything,” he said.

Mr. Vuong said his grandfather was imprisoned for political reasons, and so was his uncle who fought against the communists. They were both released with the help of U.S. forces and allies.

His parents eventually settled in the Toronto area, where Mr. Vuong was born in 1989.

“Canada welcomed my parents as refugees at a time when other countries were closing their borders,” he says.

This was one of the reasons he says he joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a reserve officer.

“I wanted to be able to give back to the country that gave my family everything.”

Mr. Vuong got a bachelor’s degree in finance from Western University and a law-related master’s degree from the University of Toronto. He took on a variety of consulting roles and university lecturer positions before eventually launching his own consulting and small-scale manufacturing businesses.

He was also active in community organizations, including being an executive at the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto’s board of directors, and the Mishkaowjiwan Foundation.

In 2020, he was appointed Canada’s NATO 2030 Young Leader by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, one of 13 young representatives selected to propose ideas and make recommendations for the alliance’s future agenda.

Start in Politics

Mr. Vuong says he got his start in elected representation by running for his condo board after moving to downtown Toronto at age 22.

“That’s where I first got involved in advocacy,” he says.

His first attempt at elected politics would come in 2018, when he unsuccessfully ran for Toronto city council.

“I learned a lot during that time, including just how I think tough politics can be.”

In 2019, he says the Conservatives approached him to run for the party federally, but he says he didn’t think it was the right time for him.

“Bear in mind, I was in my 20s, so I didn’t think I had enough experience to be able to add value as a representative in the House of Commons.”

Two years later in 2021, when the Liberals asked him to run in the Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York to replace incumbent Liberal MP Adam Vaughan who had decided not to run, he “naively” agreed, he says.

Mr. Vuong says while the federal Liberals didn’t represent all his values, he wanted to bring some “key perspectives” to the government that he believed were lacking. These included, he says, drawing from his military background, as well as his experience as a small business owner.

But all of that changed with the publication of an article four days ahead of the 2021 federal election.

The Encounter

The Sept. 16 article published by the Toronto Star said that Mr. Vuong had been charged with sexual assault in 2019; the charge was dropped later that year without going to trial. Mr. Vuong denies the allegation and says it was part of a honey trap to derail his political career.

The article quoted an unnamed woman saying that Mr. Vuong came to her home in early April and the two watched a movie and later went to bed and fell asleep. She alleged that when she later woke up, he was touching her sexually. She said she went to the bathroom and called a friend, who came over and asked Mr. Vuong to leave, which he did without confrontation.

The prosecutor in charge of the case said in court documents in 2019 that the woman “had a number of personal issues happening right now,” and that the prosecutor decided it wouldn’t be in the public interest to proceed with the case. The unnamed woman told the Star that “she didn’t have the energy” to go to trial, since she had been sexually assaulted as a child and didn’t want to go through the trauma of another criminal case.

The Star reported that the woman said she wasn’t aware Mr. Vuong was running for public office until she saw his election signs after recently returning to Toronto.

The Liberals, who said they were unaware of the charge, dropped Mr. Vuong as their candidate in the Sept. 20 election, though it was too late to change his affiliation on the ballot paper. Mr. Vuong went on to win the election, and now sits as an Independent.

Explaining his version of the events, Mr. Vuong says he dated the woman for a period of time in 2019, but it didn’t work out and they stopped dating. Sometime later he ran into her again.

“Oddly enough, a few weeks later I bumped into her and she essentially invited me over to hang out,” he says.

Mr. Vuong says he accepted the invitation and stayed overnight, but sometime after midnight she woke up.

“Her waking up woke me up because we were cuddling,” he said.

Mr. Vuong says the woman told him that a friend needed her and she had to leave. He says he asked if she needed his help, and after she said no he asked if he could continue sleeping at her home and leave in the morning, as it was cold outside, and she agreed.

“She leaves, I fall asleep. The next thing I know, I’m woken up by another woman I’ve never met before and [she says] ‘you need to leave.’” Mr. Vuong says he then called a Lyft and left the home.

He says he was later contacted by the Toronto Police saying he’d been accused of sexual assault. The charge was dropped in November.

“I wish I got my day in court so that I could be found innocent,” Mr. Vuong said.

In November 2021, in his first public remarks about the case, Mr. Vuong told a Toronto radio station that he had been “naive” not to disclose the withdrawn sexual assault charge. The Navy fined him $500 in July 2022 for not disclosing the charge to his commanding officers.

‘Honey Trap’

Mr. Vuong says he finds it very peculiar that the woman didn’t take any action for two years after the charge was initially laid and then withdrawn, but went public right before the election.

“Radio silence … then she allegedly [returns] from some trip … and then four days before the election the Toronto Star runs this article,” he says.

He says for a while he didn’t understand what was happening. But starting in late 2022, media started publishing reports based on intelligence leaks about China’s extensive meddling in Canadian elections and other parts of Canadian society.

Mr. Vuong says domestic political rivals would be aware that just four days before an election would be too late to remove someone’s party affiliation on the ballot paper.

“What actor would have the motivation to do something like this, but would not understand the nuances of a democratic system? Maybe an actor that doesn’t come from a democracy,” he said.

“The second aspect to it is we’ve heard in the foreign interference inquiry about how the Chinese Communist Party loves candidates [for whom] there are different mechanisms or levers that they can pull to influence those people.”

Mr. Vuong said he doesn’t have any family members who can be intimidated in China, but he’s a member of the Chinese community in Canada who has been outspoken on the importance of democracy and human rights.

“You don’t have to be a genius to realize that I would not be sympathetic to a communist agenda, because my parents ensured that I knew the dangers of a radical ideology like communism,” he said.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says in a public report that the term honey trap refers to the use of an “attractive individual” to seduce a target person, who is later blackmailed after being clandestinely recorded in a “compromising position.”

But there are other forms of honey traps as well.

The Soviet Union and the CCP have been known to make systematic use of honey traps to compromise their targets to achieve their intelligence or political goals.

One of the most high-profile cases that recently came to light is that of Christine Fang, an alleged Chinese spy who fostered relationships with a number of U.S. politicians.
In April, British MP William Wragg resigned from the Conservative Party after admitting he was manipulated into sharing phone numbers of politicians with an individual he met through a dating app.
Former Deputy Mayor of London Ian Clement said in 2009 that when he travelled to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, an attractive woman he met at a party likely spiked his drink. After he passed out, he says she searched his room and collected information about London’s operations. Earlier the same year, another U.K. government staffer suffered a similar fate.
In another scandal in 2011, South Korean authorities reported that more than 10 South Korean diplomats stationed in China had been having relations with a Chinese woman who was working for the Chinese regime to extract information from the diplomats.

“If they can’t get you in that sort of compromising position, the next best thing for them is to destroy your name and reputation, which is what they did to me,” Mr. Vuong said.

“I can tell you as someone that went through that, that’s something that I would never wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy.”

Election Interference

Justice Marie-Josée Hogue, who is overseeing the foreign interference inquiry, noted in her May 3 interim report that the nation’s intelligence agency has identified China as the most persistent interference threat to Canada.

The report also acknowledged that CCP interference may have played a role in some riding contests. This included the B.C. riding of former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu in 2021. The report found that both Mr. Chiu and former Tory Leader Erin O’Toole were targets of misinformation because of their strong stances against the CCP.

Other irregularities included intelligence reports that in 2019 under the coercion of the Chinese consulate international students were bused in to vote for the Liberal nomination of Han Dong in the Don Valley North riding in Toronto. Mr. Dong, who has denied involvement in these incidents, won the Liberal nomination, became MP, and was re-elected in 2021.

‘Caught in the Crossfire’

Mr. Vuong says the entire ordeal and the political attacks have been very difficult, not only for himself but also for his close family members, including his parents and his wife, Elizabeth, whom he married in 2023.

“It’s been very hard with my family caught in the crossfire,” he said.

“Imagine having your spouse’s name dragged on national television, and having people that you thought were your friends or your supporters, actually now turn around and just knife you in the back, to use it to climb up and propel themselves forward at your expense.”

He credits his wife’s support for helping him get through the ordeal.

“I would not be here today if it wasn’t for her.”

The two are now expecting their first child.

‘Blessing in Disguise’

Sitting as an Independent MP, Mr. Vuong has been outspoken on a number of policy issues that differ from those of the governing Liberals, the party for which he once ran.

This includes removing the carbon tax, listing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, and asking for a tougher stance on the CCP as well as against anti-Semitism.

He says in hindsight, not being under the banner of his former party has been a “blessing in disguise,” as he can stand up for the values he believes in.

“I wouldn’t have been able to stand up for the issues that are so important to not only Toronto, but the country. And the foreign interference is definitely one of them, but also carbon tax, and the lack of affordability, and how so many people in Toronto and across the country are struggling,” he said.

He has since expressed interest in joining the Conservative Party. The Tories have so far not commented on this. Getting re-elected as an Independent or a Conservative in his riding, which was renamed to Spadina-Harbourfront in 2022, would be a challenge, as the riding has been a Liberal and NDP stronghold. Polling aggregator 338Canada shows the NDP having 35 percent support in the riding as of May 19, followed by the Conservatives at 29 percent and Liberals at 28 percent.

On foreign interference, Mr. Vuong says the government has taken a good first step with its recent introduction of Bill C-70, which will create a foreign agent registry and allow CSIS to brief non-federal entities on threats. But, he wants to see further action.

“The foreign agent registry is a positive development but we’ve been demanding that for years,” he said.

“I’m waiting to see if the government responds in any constructive way to address this menace.”