Seemingly innocuous transactions by Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne have taken on a whole new meaning considering mainland China’s expansionism.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has called on Champagne to explain to the House of Commons how his $1.2-million loan from the Bank of China – one of the largest commercial banks directly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party – will not compromise his integrity.
The sum represents Champagne’s two mortgages for separate London homes. Multiple observers have pointed to Chinese money as a major factor pushing domestic buyers out of the housing market over the last few years.
“Owing someone over a million dollars – that’s pretty big leverage,” Scheer told The Canadian Press. “There’s a big difference between a Canadian having a mortgage at a Chinese bank and Canada's most senior diplomat being indebted to the PRC.”
And while the Liberal administration is insisting that the information has been divulged to the ethics commissioner, “the minister’s latest disclosure was only made on June 4, just a few days ago,” Scheer said last week. “So did the minister disclose both mortgages when he was elected in 2015 or not?”
The comments came amid frosty Ottawa-Beijing relations, which soured in the aftermath of the RCMP placing Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in detention in December 2018, as well as the subsequent arbitrary arrest of two Canadians in China.