So, let’s review what’s come out about Han Dong since Global’s … explosive, let’s say, reporting came out Wednesday afternoon.
· Han Dong left the Liberal caucus Wednesday night in an emotional speech on the floor of the House.
· The Globe and Mail has confirmed they approached the PMO for comment about those allegations on March 3rd, but declined to publish the story because they didn’t have either the transcript of the call or a tape.
· The Globe reported the PMO asked CSIS for a transcript of the call after they found out about this (again, on March 3rd), and decided there was no “actionable evidence” – per a senior government source to Bob Fife.
· The Globe reports Han Dong on the record announcing his intent to sue Global News for Defamation.
We also have an interesting bit of gossip from Stephen Maher – not usually one for tweeting pure conjecture, as much as I occasionally shit on him – who has heard third hand that Dong thinks what caused this is a translation error, given this conversation took place in Mandarin. I’ve spoken to someone who speaks the language who thinks it’s plausible.
I wouldn’t usually take gossip at face value, even if I do trust that Maher thinks the chain of custody is at least plausible enough for him to tweet it, but let’s remember a few facts. Dong is alleged to have asked for the delay to the release of the Two Michaels because releasing them would help the Conservatives, which never made sense. We also know CSIS headquarters were briefed on the allegations against Dong in 2021 and nothing came of it, and that the PMO didn’t think there was actionable information as of March 3rd. (The first story about Han Dong and his allegedly dubious nomination victory broke before March 3rd, just to be clear.)
What I didn’t really explicitly say in Wednesday’s column but hinted at is that the Global story doesn’t make sense as reported. That doesn’t mean it’s false – it’s just not logically coherent. Even if you think Dong is too friendly with China/the CCP, why would he want the Two Michaels to rot in Chinese prison? As David Cochrane said on Power and Politics Thursday, the Liberals were worried about bad news about the Two Michaels breaking during the 2021 campaign and hurting them. There’s no indication Dong – a loyal Liberal going back two decades, between his time as a staffer and an elected – would want the government to suffer, which either means he had an entirely different political instinct that would make no sense, or there’s a translation issue.
The case for a more … restrained narrative of what actually happened in this call makes a lot more sense, in my view. A politician having, perhaps, an elevated sense of their own import and influence trying to use connections to get something done and solve a problem for his party and his MP is not unheard of. That Dong would try and use his connections to get the Two Michaels home in an overzealous and probably useless way makes sense. Politicians love overstating their own influence.
The alternative still relies on the idea that there’s a traitor in the House of Commons and the RCMP did nothing to arrest him. It relies on Han Dong being willing to open himself to cross examination and perjury charges potentially in this defamation suit, and it relies on the idea that the Globe would fuck up so badly as to pass on a story that turned out to be true.
Does the fact that nobody has actually heard the tape of this conversation or read the transcript at Global not make trusting it a stretch? Because it does to me – especially when the Globe spiked the story because of their inability to get either tape or transcript. This is now the second story Global has run without independently verifying the allegations, after the story about Vincent Ke came with the disclaimer about the fact that Global didn’t independently verify any of the claims in the story. Here, Global ran with two supposedly independent national security sources and didn’t actually wait to make sure they had seen the transcript or heard the tape themselves.
Throw in Sam Cooper saying that he wasn’t interested in Carleton Prof and leading expert in this field Stephanie Carvin’s opinion on the Vincent Ke story because she questioned that piece’s premise that Trudeau would have seen the document that was his basis for that story and his invocation of Watergate to deflect from legitimate questions about his reporting, and you have a situation where it’s hard to rule out the idea a reporter wanted the story and so got sloppy.
What Cooper has done here – even if we ignore the possibility of a mistranslation – is run a story that did not hold up to the Globe’s standards. What he did is decide, in tandem with Global, that his sources were good enough even without raw documentation, which makes it nearly impossible for any of us to fucking know if this is shit or not.
Take it on faith is not good enough when it comes from politicians, but it’s also not good enough from journalists. Journalism is an act of reporting facts, yes, but also explaining them. The best journalism walks the readers through what they know and how they know it. This, from Global, is the journalistic equivalent of “trust me, bro” – it might be true, but it probably isn’t. Global doesn’t have anything other than a couple people’s words on this, and it’s worth remembering that that wasn’t enough for the Globe, a news organization that for good or for ill gets the big claims right when they come out swinging (see Lavalin, SNC, or Wright, Nigel).
Han Dong hasn’t gone to ground, hasn’t gone quiet, and he isn’t backing down. This threat of a lawsuit isn’t a heat of the moment thing – it’s reported in the Globe more than a full day after the original story, which means this is a plan that’s been decided on. Given that he compared the falsity of the allegations against him to the allegations against the Two Michaels, he’s going down swinging if he’s going down. And none of this makes it seem like Global got this right.
Maybe they did, in the same way that I once managed to get an A on a paper I wrote in 90 minutes that I had 6 weeks to do. Bad process sometimes leads to correct outcomes. But it’s not likely, and nothing that’s happened since the events of Wednesday night suggest that they did here.
“What we have now is a news organization that has decided it’s judge, jury, and executioner, and a reporter who’s watched All The President’s Men too many times”.
I wrote that 13 days ago about Global after they named Vincent Ke, and all they’ve done is fuck up even more since then. It is hard to see Global as anything other than letting the rush of the story fuck with their judgement about what is and isn’t actually proven, and they just crossed a very, very serious line by accusing Han Dong of treason on evidence as flimsy as Leafs fans confidence they can win a playoff round.
Plainly, I think Global fucked up and printed something false. It is the most likely answer if only because everything else requires either mass incompetence on behalf of the RCMP to not arrest this guy if he’s guilty of what’s been alleged or a mass conspiracy to protect him. Plainly, that seems less likely to me than Coop having a quick trigger finger.
For their sake, they better be right. But right now, I highly - highly - doubt it, and I think the most interesting question right now is how soon before they admit it.
Apologies if I digressed earlier.. but it occurs to me that ‘The Hill Too Die On’ is getting very crowded.. and the current person(s) leading the charge are Pierre, the CPC, CSIS, RCMP, Partisan MainMedia clowns & a truly ungulate or bovine partisan base. So it seems very possible it’s not a hill.. but a buffalo leap
Last I looked It was Trudeau hosting the President of the f’n United States of America & Poilievre with his el flasho coiffured hair in the gladhanding lineup.. dapper in bespoke suit and tie.. not the ill fitting Marks Work Warehouse blue shirt & dark nondescript pantaloons & cheap black shoes.
These are two different homo sapiens eh. One is running a Nation called Canada in a truly troubled world and the other is mainly ‘running his mouth’ & photo opping for all he’s worth. What’s his count now ? Has he hit 125 ‘Rallies’ via Jenni Byrne’s rolodex of Evangelical White Polite Electoral District Association (EDA) Board’s of Directors. Hell, he’s wound up about 150,000 of those nice committed ‘Conservative’ voters from coast to coast.. but won’t go near any Ottawa Ridings.. and especially ‘his’ Carleton Riding
The old saying.. ‘he who rides the tiger.. dare not dismount’ applies. Herr Harper tried it in a Secret Meeting in Vladivostok, Russia with the FIPA Deal.. nicely wrapped in ‘Cabinet Confidence’ but funny thing.. it’s Canada that Harper left aboard the Chinese Tiger.
Harper & sweetie pie Ray Novak et al Inc bequeathed Trudeau & Canada countless Conundrums to battle. SNC/Lavalin for one. Another was his destruction of Environmental Protection Laws re Canada’s Fresh Waters. Poilievre was there through all of it.. and cohabiting with Jenni Byrne till the eve of the Live & RoboCall Election Fraud of 2011.. and Harper ‘had no knowledge of these things’ .. boffo & huzzah !
Well I guess we’ll also see this travesty of ‘journalism’ play out.. some way or the other.. but sure seems to me.. here in my dotage.. that there’s quite a void - or vacuum - in the upper reaches of Old School Journalism. I maintain that a total humiliation of Pierre4PM will end his ‘political parasite career’ and take out the CPC at the same time.. Can’t think of a more deserving parasitic hive it could happen too.. & as a freak of nature piratical dude.. will ‘Fight Fair n Square’ every inch of the way - to see er done .. eh 🦎🏴☠️
Couple of things.
The former head of CSIS told the CBC yesterday (see link below) the agency would never release any information that would compromise their methods, their sources, their employees or tip off China. So if CSIS was wiretapping foreign diplomats, nobody will ever know about it. And a public inquiry will not reveal it either. The spy agency is not participating in any public inquiry. He said calling the leaker a whistleblower is nonsense by definition which he spells out. He said he thought the leaker has compromised the agency and the people he's literally gossiping about since there's no evidence of a damn thing from the leaker. He could be ruining a life, many lives.
Link for interview with former CSIS director. https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-2/clip/15974141
Second, Stephen Maher is the same goofball who called Tamara Lich "a political prisoner". He refused to back down on that idiocy.
Third - and I'm just throwing this out there for history's sake. Stephen Harper appointed a literal criminal to h̵e̵a̵d̵ ̵t̵h̵e̵ ̵P̵r̵i̵v̵y̵ ̵C̵o̵u̵n̵c̵i̵l̵,̵ ̵ Chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, giving him access to state secrets. His name is Arthur Porter. Harper received warnings against appointing him which Harper ignored. He died in a Panamanian prison awaiting trial. My faith in the reform conservatives to respect secrets - esp after Skippy announced he would not take a briefing because it would compel him to respect secrecy - is NIL.