May 9, 2023 - World

Canada expels Chinese diplomat over lawmaker intimidation report

 Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (C), Canada's Minister of Defence Anita Anand (L) and Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly address media representatives during a press conference at the NATO summit at the Ifema congress centre in Madrid, on June 30, 2022.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly during a 2022 news conference in Madrid. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images

Canada's government on Monday expelled a Chinese diplomat who was accused of trying to intimidate a lawmaker who had sponsored a motion that declared Beijing's treatment of Muslim Uyghurs as a genocide.

Driving the news: Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly in a statement announced the government had declared the Toronto-based diplomat Zhao Wei "persona non grata." Hours later, Beijing took retaliatory measures.

  • China's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday saying it "strongly condemns and firmly opposes" the declaration and has lodged a strong protest to Canada.
  • As a "reciprocal countermeasure," the ministry declared Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, consul of the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai "persona non grata" and asked her to leave China before this Saturday, the statement added.

The big picture: A 2021 Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report alleged Zhao had targeted Conservative opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives in China after he sponsored the bill condemning the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang — which the U.S. has also deemed a genocide.

What they're saying: Joly said in her statement that she made the decision after careful consideration.

  • "I have been clear: we will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs. Diplomats in Canada have been warned that if they engage in this type of behaviour, they will be sent home," she added.

Meanwhile, Chong told reporters after the announcement that it "shouldn't have taken two years for the government to make this decision."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from China's Foreign Ministry.

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