Ontario legislative member Vincent Ke has resigned from the Progressive Conservative party following a Global News report of allegations by intelligence sources that Ke was involved in an election interference network directed by China’s consulate in Toronto.
Ke, who represents the Toronto-area riding of Don Valley North, denies the allegations.
“While the Global News allegations about me are false and defamatory, I do not want to be a distraction to the government and take away from the good work Premier Ford is doing for the province of Ontario,” he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
Ke will now sit as an Independent.
“Mr. Ke offered to step away from the Ontario PC caucus,” wrote Caitlin Clark, a spokesperson for Premier Doug Ford, in a statement. “The Premier agreed and has accepted his resignation effective immediately.”
“While the allegations against Mr. Ke are not proven, they are serious and deserve his full and undivided attention as he works to clear his name,” the statement added.
Earlier Friday, the government removed him from the role of a parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Public and Business Delivery.
The ministry deals with consumer protection, business law, and privacy. It also oversees Service Ontario, which issues health cards, driver’s licenses and birth certificates, among other services.
Details of the alleged interference are outlined in a January 2022 Privy Council Office (PCO) report, which asserts that the CCP’s Toronto-area network included 11 or more 2019 federal candidates, 13 or more aides, and an Ontario MPP.
The report does not mention Ke by name but described generally how the alleged network operated.
“A large clandestine transfer of funds earmarked for the federal election from the PRC Consulate in Toronto was transferred to an elected provincial government official via a staff member of a 2019 federal candidate,” the report states.
It did not mention the official or staffer’s names, nor did it specify how much money was involved.
But two sources with knowledge of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s (CSIS) investigation into the alleged election-interference network assert that Ke received around $50,000, as part of a larger disbursement — roughly $250,000.
Those sources also say that the amount allegedly originated with the Chinese Consulate in Toronto, which transferred the money through a series of proxies that included a pro-Beijing grassroots group and the staff member to a parliamentarian before supposedly reaching Ke.
Global News granted the intelligence sources anonymity to speak as they risk prosecution under the Security of Information Act.
Approached for comment at Queen’s Park by Global News in December, Ke said he had nothing to do with election interference.
“This is a false accusation. This is racist,” he said. “It’s racist because I was born in China, because I come from China.”
Global News could not independently confirm allegations regarding the alleged financial transfer. Moreover, its sources did not provide Global with any further details about how — if at all — the alleged recipients used the funds.
Elected in 2018, Ke became the first-ever Ontario MPP born in mainland China. Frequently cited by Ontario PC party officials as a strong fundraiser, Ke built his profile as a Toronto community leader before running for office.
Vincent Ke’s lawyer, Gavin Tighe, said that the allegations Global News has collected from national security documents and sources are “patently and maliciously false.”
The revelations come as Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government faces intense scrutiny that it failed to act when warned by intelligence services about China’s attempts to interfere in the 2019 and 2022 elections.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announced Friday that it is beginning consultations to create a foreign influence registry.