Thursday, 3 January 2019

When Chrystia Freeland Said that the Extradition of Huawei CFO, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, Was Strictly a Judicial Affair, Was She Lying? Or Just Avoiding the Truth?

Generally, I have been a Freeland admirer (see Saint Mathew Pray for Us).  I sympathized as she stood beside Mike Pompeo at a Washington press conference and had to come up with six different ways of saying that the arrest, detention and possible extradition of Huawei CFO, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, was strictly a judicial affair--and in a "rule of law" country like Canada, the process was immune from political interference.



I believed her. I had already read the same claim in half a dozen news reports.  I repeated the claim myself. When a claim gets repeated that often, it's hard to resist the idea that it must be true.  Then, I had a look at the Canadian Extradition Act.  Here is what the Extradition Act actually says:

Withdrawal of the authority to proceed 
(3) The Minister may at any time withdraw the authority to proceed and, if the Minister does so, the court shall discharge the person and set aside any order made respecting their judicial interim release or detention.

"The Minister" in this instance is the Minister of Justice: Jody Wilson-Raybold.  Far from restricting elected officials from interfering in the case, the Act specifically empowers the Minister of Justice to refuse the extradition:

Reasons for Refusal
Marginal note:When order not to be made 
44 (1) The Minister shall refuse to make a surrender order if the Minister is satisfied that 
(a) the surrender would be unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances; or
 (b) the request for extradition is made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person by reason of their race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour, political opinion, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability or status or that the person’s position may be prejudiced for any of those reasons.Marginal note:



The Act clearly and repeatedly specifies that the Minister has the power and even the obligation to take action.  She has the power to consider "all the relevant circumstances" and "may at any time withdraw" the judiciary's authority to proceed with the extradition.  She has the power to set aside the order for Meng's detention.  Perhaps it's time for our political leadership to end the pretence of powerlessness and begin acting as if Canada were a sovereign nation.  Let's stop acting like a branch plant of corporate America.  Let's resolve this messy situation in the best interests of Canada and Canadians before it gets even worse.

Addendum

On January 14, 2019, (11 days after I first published this post), Jody Wilson-Raybold was replaced as Minister of Justice by Dave Lametti.

https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8493858/appointment-canada-new-minister-justice-copyright-reform-concerns

Addendum 2

On Feb. 7, 2019, after 9 weeks of denial from the PM and the Minister of External Affairs , the new Justice Minister, David Lametti, finally admitted that the extradition of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou is "political."  https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2019/02/07/decision-whether-to-extradite-huaweis-meng-wanzhou-will-ultimately-take-political-factors-into-account-new-justice-minister.html
However, this admission has passed virtually without comment in the Canadian media.









1 comment:

  1. After 9 weeks of denying that the extradition of Meng was "political", the Justice Minister confirmed to The Star that in fact is is "political": "OTTAWA—Justice Minister David Lametti says foreign affairs will be a factor if and when it comes time for him to make what he acknowledges is a political decision whether to extradite Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to the United States over China’s furious objections."

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