Canada’s long history of expelling diplomats

By David Fraser, The Canadian Press

Canada’s expulsion of a Chinese diplomat following allegations of a threat campaign against a Conservative MP marks the first time in five years a foreign representative is told to pack up and leave the country.

It’s rare but not unheard of for Canada to expel diplomats.

Declaring someone persona non grata — an unwelcome person — is dictated by a 1961 United Nations treaty called the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

It says a receiving state can at any time, without any explanation, declare a member of a diplomatic mission persona non grata and prompt them to leave the country.

Sometimes a hard date is given, but in general, diplomats are expected to leave immediately upon being expelled.

Canada adopted that international convention into its domestic laws through the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.

Canada last expelled a diplomat in 2018, when Russians were sent home by Canada in solidarity with the United Kingdom over a Russian-led nerve gas attack on a Russian political dissident.

Venezuela’s ambassador to Canada was kicked out in 2017, two days after Venezuela expelled Canada’s top diplomat in Caracas following political upheaval in the country.

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An Eritrean diplomat was expelled in 2013 for inappropriate behaviour. A year earlier, all Syrian diplomats still in Ottawa were booted out in response to the Syrian Civil War.

In 2001, Russian diplomat Andrei Knyazev drove his car onto a sidewalk and killed a pedestrian. He was expelled from Canada and, eventually, found guilty of manslaughter in Moscow before being sentenced to four years in a penal colony.

An Italian diplomat was deemed persona non grata in 1998 for rude behavior, and a Ukrainian consular employee who claimed diplomatic immunity after being accused of trying to lure young girls into his car was told to leave Canada in 1996.

In 1991, Canada expelled Iraqi diplomats connected to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Pich-Xuan Ho, a Vietnamese diplomat, was expelled after the RCMP discovered he had been threatening members of the diaspora community in an attempt to gain support in 1979 for the country’s then-socialist government.

That same year a Yugoslavian diplomat was ordered to leave for exerting “improper pressures to obtain information on Canadians of Yugolsav origin.”

Canada also kicked out Soviet diplomats and other officials over espionage allegations in 1978.

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