AN open letter from Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade Michael Chan about recent Globe and Mail articles on him (the newspaper carried two front-page articles suggesting he could be a threat to national security over close ties to the Chinese consulate in Toronto):
I wish to make a statement about the recent Globe and Mail articles that repeat five-year-old, unfounded suggestions about me.
I am grateful to [Ontario] Premier [Kathleen] Wynne for her early and definitive statement on the topic, and her expression of confidence in me. I also want to thank the many people who have contacted me to offer their support.
I came to this country as a young man. Canada welcomed me. While I am proud of my Chinese heritage, I am a Canadian first and foremost. I owe all the success I have had to this country and, most particularly, to the province of Ontario. I have been tremendously honoured to have been elected to the legislative assembly on four occasions, and to have been a Minster of the Crown for the last 8 years. I have been a strong advocate for the stakeholders and businesses I have had dealings with in every portfolio I have held. I have always conducted myself with the highest integrity.
In my capacity as Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, I have travelled to many places – and will continue to do so – to promote trade relations with Ontario. Everything I have done has been to serve the best interests of the Province of Ontario, and the citizens of Markham-Unionville. I would like to think that in some small way I have served as an example to all Canadians who may wish to take part in public affairs.
This week’s Globe and Mail articles are little more than a re-hash of ludicrous allegations published – and debunked – five years ago. Indeed, the Globe and Mail at that time properly called the suggestions “reckless, foolish and contradictory.” (Globe & Mail, June 24, 2010)
Maintaining deep, meaningful connections with one’s culture, with one’s country of origin, is something millions of Canadians cherish. Our strong, personal ties around the world are a good thing – they are an integral part of the foundation of Canada and Ontario. Indeed, at Queen’s Park we celebrate the countries that make up the rich cultural fabric of Ontario with dozens of flag-raisings each year and nobody questions the loyalty of those in attendance.
I would also like to make some personal comments.
Although I have been a Minister for 8 years, it is probably true that most Ontarians do not know me well. For many, their first impressions of me will be from the headlines in the recent Globe articles.
It hurts me that this is the case.
The banner headline of the first article gives the impression the article contains a major revelation. The front page has a photo of me with the prominent headline in bold type stating that it has been alleged that “this Minister” (me) could be a “threat” to Canada. The body of the article contains a blend of innuendo and half-suggestions. Although there are no specific allegations, provocative words like treason and espionage are used for no reason. There is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government.
This is offensive and totally false. This personal attack is deeply offensive to me and to my family.
We live in a society where freedom of the press is an important pillar. We all cherish the freedoms and protections we enjoy as Canadians. Informed debate is the lifeblood of our democracy and the press plays a major role. However, at the same time, nothing I have done in any way supports any suggestion that I am a possible threat to Canada or to Ontario.
There is one other comment I wish to make. I would like to continue to encourage newer Canadians to consider taking an active role in public life. This is essential for our society to progress. They should not be discouraged by the fear of allegations that the everyday actions of newer Canadians need to be minutely examined to determine if they somehow have lesser loyalties to this country.
CHAN was first elected to the Ontario Legislature in a February 2007 by-election and was re-elected in the general elections of 2007, 2011 and 2014.
Since first being elected, Michael has served continuously in the Ontario Cabinet as the Minister of Revenue, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport and Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan / Parapan American Games.
He currently serves as the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade and as a member of the Education, Skills and Economic Policy Cabinet Committee.
Michael originally emigrated from Hong Kong more than forty years ago. He has lived in Markham since 1995 with his wife, Elaine, and their two sons.
– VOICE REPORT