The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has begun reaching out to more elected officials to offer briefings on foreign interference after the federal government expelled a Chinese diplomat for allegedly targeting the family of Conservative MP Michael Chong.
The Globe and Mail, citing a top-secret document from 2021, reported last week that the Chinese government was targeting a Canadian MP. An unnamed security source reportedly told The Globe that Zhao Wei was allegedly working on efforts to target Chong's family in China.
As first reported by the Globe and Mail on Friday, CSIS has now requested a meeting with former Conservative leader Erin O'Toole and NDP MP Jenny Kwan.
A source with knowledge of the request told CBC that O'Toole's office was sent an email from the chief of staff of the director of CSIS requesting an in person meeting.
CSIS had not requested a meeting with O'Toole prior to this week, the source said.
The former Tory leader's sister had previously lived in Hong Kong for over a decade, according to the source. She came back to Canada in 2021.
Kwan was offered a similar briefing from Canada's spy agency earlier this week. Due to a COVID-19 infection, Kwan said she was initially able to set up a Zoom meeting with members of CSIS, but the agency said they could only discuss specifics in person.
"I asked them some questions, but the meeting was really very preliminary as we were not able to ensure that the platform we were on was a secured one," she told CBC, adding that they agreed to meet in person at a later date.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he told CSIS to share more information with the federal government about threats to members of Parliament following the reports about Chong and his family.
Unlike Chong and O'Toole, Kwan said she doesn't have any family in mainland China or Hong Kong.
While she expressed concern about the possibility of being a target of foreign interference, she said she is concerned for the Canadian public at large.
"My question to the Canadian government is ... how do we assure Canadians that they are protected?" she said.
Kwan also reiterated her party's call for an inquiry in foreign interference.
"We shouldn't be getting this information in dribs and drabs," she said.
Zhao — the Chinese diplomat accused of targeting Chong's family — left Canada on Friday, according to a government source.
The federal government announced Monday that it was expelling Zhao in response to reports that the diplomat played a role in attempts to gather information on Chong's family in Hong Kong in 2021 following the MP's condemnation of Beijing's conduct in the Xinjiang region as genocide.
Zhao left Canada by plane on Friday, the source said.
Beijing responded to the expulsion Tuesday by expelling Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, consul in the Canadian consulate in Shanghai. Lalonde has to leave China by Saturday, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement.