(OTTAWA) Canada is ousting a Chinese diplomat from the Toronto consulate, Zhao Wei, over the threatening campaign he orchestrated against MP Michael Chong and his family in Hong Kong. The envoy from Beijing will have to leave the country no later than five days. China’s retaliation, meanwhile, is expected soon.

“Canada has decided to declare Mr. Zhao Wei persona non grata”, finally decided on Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, on whom the pressure was growing stronger to adopt a firm position. towards Beijing.

“I have been very clear: we will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs. Diplomats in Canada have been warned that if they engage in this type of behavior, they will be sent home,” the head of diplomacy added in a written statement.

The Chinese diplomat’s expulsion comes a week after the Globe and Mail published reports that Zhao Wei had maneuvered to intimidate conservative lawmaker Michael Chong and members of his family in Hong Kong.

The principal concerned appeared at the microphone of the foyer of the House of Commons to react to the announcement of Minister Joly.

Same story with Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. “It’s the right decision, but it comes a week too late. In fact, it comes months too late. We should have expelled him in 2021, ”she said.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa was quick to show its supreme irritation on its website, warning that retaliatory measures were to follow and accusing Canada of violating international law by making the move.

“We advise the Canadian side to take a step back and not go further down the wrong path. If the Canadian side wants to act gratuitously and arbitrarily, China will react firmly and resolutely,” a spokesperson for the diplomatic mission warned.

The question is not so much whether, but how the Chinese regime will respond, argued in an interview the former representative of Quebec in China, Jean-François Lépine. “I think the chance of retaliation is 100%,” he said.

But one thing is certain, “Canada had no choice”, because the cases of Chinese interference became so well known to the general public that it had to make “this important gesture”, argued the former great reporter, not without ” hope that the information we have justifies [it], because for the moment, it is evocations”.

The Chinese diplomat will have to pack his bags and leave the country no later than five days, according to a Canadian government source who requested anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss the issue openly.

It would be the first time that a representative of the Middle Kingdom stationed in Canada has been shown the door at least since the 1970s, according to information provided by Global Affairs Canada on Monday.

The last deportations of foreign diplomats by Ottawa date back to 2018.

Canada then showed the door to four Russian representatives in concerted action “in solidarity with the United Kingdom” to protest the nerve gas poisoning of ex-Russian agent Sergei Skripal on the British soil.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which is calling for the expulsion of Russian diplomats, has taken note of the diplomatic punishment inflicted on China. “Representatives of a genocidal regime have no place in Canada,” the statement said.