(This post last updated at 7:31pm)
According to the CBC, Conservative MP Bob Dechert, the parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, will soon acknowledge that he sent flirtatious emails to a reporter with the Chinese state news agency. Earlier the Ottawa Citizen reported on the existence of said emails.
E-mails circulated in Ottawa on Friday contain messages apparently between Chinese journalist Shi Rong of the Xinhua News Agency and Mississauga–Erindale MP Bob Dechert, who serves as parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. One message that appears to have been sent from Dechert’s Parliament Hill account reads: “You are so beautiful. I really like that picture of you by the water with your cheeks puffed. That look is so cute. I love it when you do that. Now, I miss you even more.”
More from the Globe.
6:16pm. A statement from Mr. Dechert’s office has now been issued.
“The person is a journalist whom I have come to know as a friend. I met her while doing Chinese-language media communications.
My understanding is that her emails were hacked as part of an ongoing domestic dispute.
These emails are flirtatious, but the friendship remained innocent and simply that – a friendship.I apologize for any harm caused to anyone by this situation.”
6:45pm. A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Mr. Dechert has denied any inappropriate behaviour.
We have no information to suggest otherwise.
7:14pm. The Globe notes previous security concerns surrounding Xinhua.
China is known to be an extremely aggressive collector of intelligence and Canadian security agencies have, in the past, cited links to Xinhua as a reason to remove bureaucrats from positions where they might have access to top secret data.
For example, the government fired a senior Chinese-Canadian bureaucrat from the Privy Council Office in 2003, partly because she had once worked for Xinhua and had kept up contacts with her former colleagues there after joining the Canadian government.
7:31pm. A comment from NDP press secretary Karl Belanger.
We want this Conservative government to be more friendly on the world stage, but this isn’t what we had in mind.