Ford’s chief of staff was briefed on potential Chinese election interference, premier says

Click to play video: 'Premier Doug Ford’s office received CSIS briefing on potential election interference'
Premier Doug Ford’s office received CSIS briefing on potential election interference
WATCH ABOVE: Premier Doug Ford has confirmed that his office received a briefing from CSIS on allegations of election meddling and the possible involvement of an Ontario MPP. Global News’ Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Colin D’Mello reports – Mar 21, 2023

The chief of staff to Ontario Premier Doug Ford was given an official intelligence briefing from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in the Fall of 2022, after Global News uncovered concerns that an Ontario MPP was ensnared in an alleged election interference network.

That politician, Don Valley North MPP Vincent Ke, resigned from the Progressive Conservative party on March 10, 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 denied the allegations in a statement posted on social media calling the story “false and defamatory” and said he resigned from Ford’s caucus to avoid becoming a source of distraction to the provincial government.

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Sources in the Premier’s Office said the government reached out to CSIS in the fall for an official briefing, after receiving questions from Global News about Ke’s possible involvement in the interference network.

“When we got information from (Global News journalist) Sam Cooper … we had to reach out to (CSIS),” said a source familiar with the situation.

Premier Doug Ford said that while he “personally” did not receive a briefing, his chief of staff at the time, Jamie Wallace, requested and was given one — which Wallace then shared with Ford.

“I was briefed through my staff,” Ford told reporters at an unrelated news conference in Vaughan.

Ford indicated the scope of the conversation was limited and suggested his office lacked the information to make a firm decision.

“With CSIS, everything’s a big secret. They don’t give you a proper briefing in my opinion,” Ford complained. “They’re really secretive.”

Sources in the Premier’s Office later added that CSIS “did not get into a lot of the detail” of the allegations pertaining to Ke and the lack of specifics was the primary reason why the Ford government failed to take action over the allegations.

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Click to play video: 'Ontario PC MPP removed from position following 2019 election interference allegations'
Ontario PC MPP removed from position following 2019 election interference allegations

Ford said the province will cooperate with the CSIS probe, but believes Ke will be exonerated.

“I have confidence that his name will be cleared,” Ford said.

“If his name’s totally cleared, there’s no reason why he can’t come back to the caucus.”

Ke has sat as an independent since March 10, he was first elected in 2018 and won re-election last June.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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