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Showing posts with label Canadian Extradition Act. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canadian Extradition Act. Show all posts

Monday, 19 April 2021

Canada's Talking Tough Is an Embarrassing Display of Weakness

 Whatever happened to "speak softly and carry a big stick"?

In the last election campaign only Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc Québécois, dared to say the obvious that in arresting Meng, Canada was trying to display muscles it did not have.  Blanchet's daring proves that it takes a politician with nothing to lose to speak the obvious truth. In the ongoing US-China fisticuffs, Canada is playing the role of the Milquetoast sidekick whose tremulous tough talk only emphasizes his weakness. 

Canada's only legal course of action is the one it refuses to acknowledge

According to the Wall Street Journal, US Justice has been arranging to offer Huawei and Meng a deferred prosecution agreement.  Meng herself has balked at the deferral requirement that she plead guilty before returning to China.  Senator Yuen Pau Woo, who has for years worked back-channel diplomacy with China on Canada's behalf,  has warned that if we leave it to the US to release Meng, we will be putting Michael Korvig and Michael Spivak at further risk.  Based on his experience in Sino-Canadian negotiations, the Senator has explained that China will need a gesture of respect from Canada in order to guarantee the safety of the Canadians.  Canadian Conservatives, however, cannot resist another opportunity for bravado:  Senator Leo Housakos said he was appalled by the suggestion that Canada should recognize China’s judicial system as legitimate.



The Future looks bright but Canada doesn't

Lisa Monaco has been nominated as the Democratic replacement for Richard Donoghue as Deputy Attorney General.  With extensive experience in national security, counter-terrorism, extradition and hostage negotiation, and cyber espionage, she appears an ideal candidate for the position.  When asked about the request for Meng Wanzhou's extradition, she immediately said (12 Dec. 2018) what no Canadian politician, civil servant, or journalist dared to say then or since about the politics of extradition:  “I think as a matter of law Trump could direct the Justice Department to drop the prosecution that is the basis of the extradition request.”  In Canada, "as a matter of law," extradition is a political decision:  a simple truth which cannot be spoken, no matter what the cost.

Ms. Monaco went on to say that she didn't think it was a good idea for Trump to interfere.  Fair enough, but she immediately established what the law permitted.  In Canada, it took two years for CBC to give former Supreme Court Justice and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour a platform to explain that "as a matter of law," in Canada, Meng's arrest and potential extradition was a political decision.  Canadians just didn't get what she was explaining.  Knowing and following the law in Canada, as Arbour was recommending, was interpreted as advocating an illegal exchange of hostages. 

The Cabal is gone, but Canadian "justice" plods on

The cabal of American anti-China super-hawks (John Bolton, Steve Bannon, and Richard Donghue), who concocted the Meng arrest and extradition request, are all gone.  The Canadian judicial bureaucracy plods on without considering whether, in view of all the circumstances,  the original extradition request was fair and just, because this is a question which only the Canadian Minister of Justice can, by law, decide.

Is the Biden administration hoping that Canada will show some backbone?

The first meeting of the Biden administration's foreign affairs team with their Chinese counterparts did not go well.  However, the USA and China have reportedly made some progress on climate talks.  The new US administration has signalled interest in a return to the Iran-USA nuclear treaty and the lifting of sanctions--the underlying basis for the accusations of "bank fraud" against Meng.  

Canada's releasing Meng would likely dovetail with current trends in the Biden White House while ridding the US administration of a needless obstacle in negotiations with China--not to mention being beneficial to imprisoned Canadians.  The problem is:  how does the Liberal government walk back the all-too-obvious, bald-faced lie that extradition is a judicial, non-political decision, which they have been repeating for two and a half years, while the Conservatives are grandstanding with hyperbolic anti-China rhetoric?



 

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

"Judicial Independence" in Canadian Extradition Law

The Canadian Extradition Act

There is no "judicial independence" in Canadian extradition law.  Louise Arbour,  former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals, has been trying to educate the Canadian public on this basic fact in Canadian law. The Canadian Extradition Act is available online and is clear (and I encourage you to click the hyperlink), in Canada, extradition is, ultimately, the responsibility of the executive branch of government (meaning the politicians we elect) not the judiciary.  Despite the obvious letter of the law, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to stubbornly repeat the fallacy that "judicial independence" must be maintained in the Meng extradition trial. His use of the phrase "judicial independence" is proof that he has never looked at the Canadian Extradition Act.  Imagine: in a matter of minutes, anyone with an internet connection and basic reading skills can know more about Canadian extradition law than the Prime Minister of Canada.  Be one of those people.

I urge you to click on the link:  The Canadian Extradition Act.


The Definition of absurd

The definition of absurd is "wildly irrational, illogical and inappropriate."  I bother to define "absurd" because the word can sometimes imply ridiculous, mocking, even comic.  But in this case, the issues are deadly serious, especially for Michael Korvik and Michael Spivak who could spend years in a Chinese prison  (Canadian extradition cases have been known to take ten years) while the Canadian government dithers and does nothing.


The Most basic rule of logic

The most basic rule of logic is that if your premise is wrong, whatever conclusions or arguments follow from the premise will also be wrong.  For over 18 months, Canada's political leadership and virtually the entirety of its fourth estate have adopted a false premise summed up in the expression "judicial independence."  By adopting this false premise, Canadian politicians, the media, and numerous public figures have unleashed a litany of absurdities, non-sequiturs, and obfuscations which can only lead to delays and damage to Canada and Canadians.  Consider some of the claims you have, no doubt, already heard.


We are abiding by Canadian law

 If you dared to click the link to the Canadian Extradition Act, you know this goes beyond being illogical, it is an outright lie.  The only way to claim that Canada is being "law abiding" is to ignore the law, the Canadian Extradition Act, which we are supposedly abiding by.


We had no choice: Canada is respecting its extradition treaty obligations

How many times have you heard these claims?  The word "obligations" is more than misleading; it is simply wrong.  Extradition treaties do not create the obligation for Canada to arrest anyone, and the Treaty on Extradition Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America is no exception.  The treaty lays out the circumstances and a list of the 30 crimes for which Canada will consider the American "request" that a person be extradited.  You can do a word search of the Treaty (click edit/find in your browser, then type in the word oblige and any of its cognates). The word "oblige" or its cognates does not appear a single time in the Treaty.  The word "request" and its various forms appear . . . a lot.  (I stopped counting after I had found the word used 50 times.)  The Public Prosecutor Service of Canada is explicit that "Extradition treaties do not themselves create an obligation or a power to arrest in Canada."  Still, Canadian politicians throw up their hands saying "we had no choice" and Canadian journalists piously repeat the falsehood.

Trump made it political

Invoking the name "Donald Trump" has become a means of announcing that the universe is absurd and, to quote Becket's Waiting for Godot, "there is nothing to be done."  Blaming Trump means no-one feels responsible to do anything.  Of course, Trump's public announcement that he would use Meng as a bargaining chip with China was immediate grounds for dismissal of the extradition request.  But, guess what, only the Minister of Justice can take that step.

One school of thought is that arresting Meng on December 1, 2018, the same day Trump was having a one-on-one meeting with China's President Xi was a deliberate attempt to undermine the American President orchestrated by his national security advisor John Bolton.  (If you click on this link to the Guardian article from 6 Dec 2018, you will see Bolton quoted as saying he didn't know if Trump had been informed of the Meng arrest.  My guess:  if his national security advisor didn't tell him, Trump probably didn't know.  Also, in the article, Bolton makes it clear that Meng was arrested because of NSA concerns about Huawei, not because she had committed bank fraud.)

"Trump made it political" clouds the fact that extradition is, by law, political in Canada.  Justin Trudeau made the case impossibly "political" when he dismissed Canada's ambassador to China simply for saying that Meng had a good case against extradition.  How can David Lametti, the Minister of Justice, do his job and release Meng after Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland have repeated a hundred times over in the last 18 months that extradition in Canada must be done without political interference?  Has anyone heard from our Minister of Justice recently?  Robert Fife, Globe and Mail Bureau Chief, described Minister of Justice, David Lametti, as "becoming a joke," and "every time they let him out he says something stupid."  On Feb. 7, 2019, three weeks after he had been appointed Minister of Justice, The Star reported:


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 [ . . .].
 I haven't heard anything from the Minister of Justice since.  Have you?


Canada is being bullied; we need to get tough with China

If you are wondering by whom Canada is being bullied, you need look no further than Adrienne Arsenault's interview with former National Security Advisor John Bolton.  

When asked  about what the USA was doing about the imprisonment of Canadians Kovrig and Spavor, John Bolton replied:  "it has been spoken about publicly in the administration."  This is how the USA is getting tough with China.

Canada is being played by the USA and being left to its own devices to deal with China.  Bolton's response to Canada's dilemma:  "If you want to leave NATO, if you want to get rid of our protection militarily, please go ahead and do it.  If that's what you want.  Canada is free to do it."

When Arsenault asked, "How does Canada get its Canadians home from China at this point?"

Bolton's response:  "Look, I think we all want to get them home as soon as possible.  America has had its share of hostages around the world. If you don't like it, Ma'am, you're free to go ally with China.  If you think that's what your country wants to do.  Think about that long and hard."


There's a difference between China imprisoning two Canadians for no reason and Canada's arresting Meng on legal grounds

Yes, there is a difference.  It is a difference of degree.  It only holds as a difference of kind, if Canada's grounds for holding Meng are legal according to Canadian law.  Back to the Canadian Extradition Act and the fact that the Minister of Justice and only the Minister of Justice (not a judge) is tasked with looking at all the circumstances and deciding if the request is just and justifiable.  Only the Minister can consider if Richard Donaghue's warrant is a conflict of interest.  Only the Minister can determine if nationality, ethnicity, economics, or politics play a part in and thereby dismiss the extradition request.  Only the Minister can look at the entire situation and consider if Meng will, in fact, be tried and sentenced to at least a year in prison as required by the Treaty, or if the end result will likely be a fine or some kind of negotiation--which would be grounds for dismissing the request.  Only the Minister can look at the entire situation and ask:  "Has anyone ever done jail time for the kind of thing that Meng is being accused of?" Everywhere the Minister of Justice looks, he is likely to see a reason to dismiss the extradition request.  The Canadian response:  "judicial independence" as if the Minister of Justice is not allowed to act.  Have I mentioned that Canadians need to study the Canadian Extradition Act?


We can't release Meng because the Chinese have taken two Canadians hostage

Having ignored the letter of Canadian law for 18 months, we now find ourselves facing the absurd argument that we cannot release Meng because the Chinese have imprisoned two Canadians and acquiescence would encourage future hostage diplomacy.  Does anyone really believe that Canada is in a position to give China lessons on international diplomacy?  That anything Canada does will change Chinese behaviour on the international stage?

Arresting two Canadians in China, as I pointed out in December, 2018, has made the optics of releasing Meng more difficult for Canada.  At the time, the common observation was that the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor were for local consumption in China; that is, the government had to show that they were doing something about the arrest of Meng.  The need for two governments to save face with their constituencies has created this absurd standoff.  Neither government has solid legal grounds for their actions but before any change can take place, one of these governments has to admit the fact.

A Majority of Canadians oppose a swap of Meng for the Michaels

The UBC survey done last October concluded that 39% of Canadians felt arresting Meng was a mistake and 35% feel she should be released before the judicial process has concluded.  More recently:


the latest study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians supportive of the federal government’s position of letting Meng’s extradition case play out in the courts. Seven-in-ten (72%) feel this way, while a minority (28%) say that they would rather the government negotiate a way to exchange Meng for Canadians Kovrig and Spavor.

What does this latest poll prove?  To fully answer the question, you have to look at the question that Angus Reid asked, and the answers that respondents were allowed to give.  This is what you get:




In other words, if you are forced to accept the false premise that extradition in Canada is an "independent court process" do you follow the law, or break the law and do something else? So yes, Canadians think of themselves as law-abiding, which is easy to do if you ignore the law . . . the Canadian Extradition Act.



Now What?

David Akin of Global News has argued that it's too soon for the government to intervene in the Meng extradition. According to Akin, the Minister can only act at the end of the judicial process (in 8 to 10 years from now?).  Commenting on CBC News last  week, Susan Riley, said it was "too late for the government to intervene."  Of course, she has a point.  After 18 months of repeated, spurious claims that the government cannot interfere, how will the government explain its actions when it is eventually required to follow the law and for the Minister of Justice to make his decision?

There is only one way, that I can see, to escape the perfidy and absurdity.  A lot of Canadians will have to browse the Canadian Extradition Act. Is there any way that is ever going to happen?  Not likely.  Then again, what if you did?  And suggested the same to a few of your friends?

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Extradition from Canada to the USA: Why Meng's Chances of a Favourable Canadian Verdict Are Slim

Extradition by the numbers

This Extradition Fact Sheet from a Government of Canada website provides statistics on Canada-to-the-USA extradition cases over a ten year period from 2008 to 2018.  As you can see, once a  case is before a Canadian judge (as Meng's is now) only 8 times (total number of discharges/refusals in 10 years) of 798 US extradition requests has the court ruled in favour of the individual resisting extradition--roughly 1% of the time.


Fiscal YearTable note *Total number of requestsArrestsATP’s IssuedOrder of Committals Total number of discharges/ refusalsWithdrawalsTotal number of people surrendered
2008-2009978467400161
2009-20101186563301349
2010-20111327158161661
2011-20121179372310281
2012-20131019566343665
2013-2014534943341758
2014-2015475338291552
2015-2016443430290241
2016-2017403532211649
2017-2018494738230235
TOTAL798626507287840552
 A CBC News report on the "High Rate of Canadian Extraditions" described the need for reform.  As Robert Currie, a professor of law at Dalhousie University, described the Canadian system, "Once you are sought for extradition, your goose is pretty much cooked."

Best chance of avoiding extradition before Minister issues Authority to Proceed

In the same table above, when we compare the "number of requests" to "ATPs issued" (Authority to Proceed), we discover that in 65% of cases an Authority to Proceed was granted.  In other words for a person facing extradition, the best chance of avoiding extradition (35%) comes before an ATP has been issued.  Unfortunately for Meng, On March 1, 2019, the Department of Justice issued a press release announcing:

Today, Department of Justice Canada officials issued an Authority to Proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou. 
The decision follows a thorough and diligent review of the evidence in this case. The Department is satisfied that the requirements set out by the Extradition Act for the issuance of an Authority to Proceed have been met and there is sufficient evidence to be put before an extradition judge for decision.

 

Who issues Authority to Proceed?  Justice Canada officials or the Minister?

While this press release makes anonymous "Department of Justice Canada officials" responsible for the issue of an Authority to Proceed, elsewhere the Ministry website seems clear that "The Minister of Justice must determine whether to authorize the commencement of extradition proceedings in the Canadian courts by issuing an 'Authority to Proceed'."  In other words, from December 1, 2018 to March 1, 2019, the Minister of Justice, in consultation with the International Assistance Group of the Canadian Department of Justice, had the option not to issue an "Authority to Proceed" and release Meng from house arrest.

Who issues provisional arrest warrant?  A judge or the Minister?

On December 12, 2018, Jody Wilson-Raybould issued a statement saying:  “As the Minister of Justice, I take my extradition responsibilities and obligations very seriously." In that statement Wilson-Raybould claims:
Ms. Meng was arrested pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant issued by a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia a procedure which is contemplated in both the Extradition Act and the Treaty on Extradition between Canada and the United States in circumstances where urgency has been established. The decision to seek a provisional arrest warrant from the court is made by Department of Justice officials without any political interference or direction.
However, what the Extradition Act says is:
The Minister may, after receiving a request by an extradition partner for the provisional arrest of a person, authorize the Attorney General to apply for a provisional arrest warrant 
And consequently:
A judge may, on ex parte application of the Attorney General, issue a warrant for the provisional arrest of a person
How could Wilson-Raybould claim that "a provisional arrest warrant was issued by a judge" in accordance with the Extradition Act, when the Act specifies that she as Minister of Justice was responsible for issue of the warrant?  As explained on the Public Prosecution Service of Canada website:
Extradition treaties do not themselves create an obligation or a power to arrest in Canada. They merely define the basis on which provisional arrest may be requested. The judicial power to order provisional arrest arises under section 13 of the Extradition Act, once the Minister of Justice approves the request for provisional arrest (section 12).
How could Wilson-Raybould claim that the decision was made "without political interference or direction" when the Act and the Public Prosecution Service confirm that "the Minister of Justice approves the request"?

In Canada EXTRADITION IS POLITICAL

I must admit I have started yelling that in Canada EXTRADITION IS POLITICAL.  (By the way, kudos to David Akin for sharing my rebuttal to his ANALYSIS on his Twitter feed.  What better way to contradict my claim that journalists were censuring the discussion than to forward a link to my post.  As of today, I can report that the post has been viewed 71 times.)

I have gone looking for an answer to the question:  When the Extradition Act says "the Minister" does the text really mean anonymous "Officials of the Department of Justice"?  I have not found an answer that I can quote here, other than the glossary of definitions at the beginning of the Act which states: "Minister means the Minister of Justice."  What I have found are repeated confirmations that in Canada extradition is political.

Justice Minister David Lametti has already confirmed, in an interview with the Star that
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.
David Akin also confirms that
[ . . .] there will be an opportunity for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, through his justice minister, David Lametti, to intervene and, if they so choose, to block the extradition.But that opportunity comes much, much later, at the very end of the extradition proceeding.

 

The Shift from "it's not political" to "it's not political yet"

 The argument has shifted from "it's not political" to "it's not political yet." The problems with the new argument are numerous.  In the first place, someone should tell Minister of External Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, so she can stifle her strident claims that “When it comes to Ms Meng there has been no political interference ... and that is the right way for extradition requests to proceed.”

The second problem with the "let's do nothing now" approach, is that the extradition hearings in BC Supreme Court are not scheduled to start until January 2020.  The case will go on for at least two years, Canadians will languish in a Chinese prison, Canadian businesses and trade will suffer, and Canadian trade and relations with China may never fully recover.  As I commented at the beginning of the year: "if the naivety and Dudly-Do-Rightism of Canadian leadership allow the extradition hearings and detainment of Meng to continue for years, then the corporate objective of slowing down the competition will have been achieved--and the Government of Canada will have colluded in that corrupt undertaking."

The third problem with "let's wait" is that there is no legal, moral or practical reason to wait.  The Extradition Act states: "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."  "At any time" includes right now.  If the Minister considers "all the relevant circumstances," as indicated in the law, the grounds for withdrawing the Authority to Proceed are numerous:  the original warrant is suspect, the request political, contrary to the Canadian Bill of Rights regarding nationality and ethnicity, no individual has been convicted of a crime in the USA for the behaviour of which Meng is accused (business in Iran), such behaviour is definitely not a crime in Canada, and, for obvious, practical reasons she will never be imprisoned in the USA as required by the Act and the Treaty on Extradition Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America.

The fourth problem with the passive, "wait and see," "let the judge decide" attitudes of our political leadership is they grossly overestimate the power of judges in extradition cases.  As the Supreme Court of Canada Judgement outlines in McVey versus the USA, "the role of the extradition judge is limited but important:  he or she must determine whether a prima facie case exists that the conduct of the fugitive constitutes an 'extradition crime' according to Canadian law."  In this "Judgement," the Justices make the point 15 separate times that the extradition judge has "limited" functions and "modest" powers.

The solution is political, but Canadian politicians play Pontius Pilat

The point here is that unlike the Minister of Justice who is tasked with considering "all the circumstances," the extradition judge is only tasked with considering whether or not what Meng has done looks, at first glance, like bank fraud--the extraditable offense of which she is accused.  However, the Supreme Court Justices have indicated that the extradition judge cannot investigate or consider American law.  Can she,  for example, consider the fact that no individual has ever been convicted of a crime in the USA for transgressing the Iran sanctions?  It appears not.  This responsibility falls to the Minister of Justice.  The historical statistics indicate that Meng has a 99% chance of being extradited.  This is so because of the limitations of an extradition hearing and limited powers of an extradition judge, and the reluctance of the Minister of Justice to act at the end of extradition hearings.

Supreme Court of Canada confirms Minister, not a judge, has the power 

The Supreme Court Justices make the point repeatedly that the extradition judge's powers are limited, but the Minister of Justice's powers are broad:
When a request is made, the political authorities in the requested state will examine the material to see that the request complies with these terms and conditions.  The treaties also make provision for the requesting state to supply certain material whereby the requested state can determine the validity of the request and its compliance with the terms and conditions of the treaty (see Art. 9 of the treaty here (Can. T.S. 1976 No. 3)), and it is reasonable that these are the materials to be looked at in determining the issue.  In essence, the treaty obligations are of a political character to be dealt with in the absence of statute by the political authorities.
          [ . . . .]
Nowhere is the duty to consider the foreign law assigned to the extradition judge.  This, as I mentioned, is a task for the political authorities at common law, now assigned by statute to the Minister of Justice.
          [ . . . .]
In Canada, the procedure, we saw, is more fluid, the case frequently coming before the extradition judge before the formal requisition has been made.  But the substance is the same; the Minister of Justice may at any time refuse to surrender and discharge the fugitive (s. 22 of the Act).
           [ . . . .]
the Extradition Act, which we saw only requires that there be prima facie evidence of an act that constitutes a crime listed in the treaty according to the law of Canada.  In fact, the Act does not deal with proof of foreign law at all.  That, as I said, is a matter for the executive.  (The executive, in Canada, means political representatives of the Queen, in particular the Prime Minister. See https://www.lawnow.org/democratic-governance-the-constitution-and-canadas-branches-of-government/).
           [ . . . .]
[ . . .] what is really important is that a person should not be surrendered to another country for conduct that is not considered a serious crime in the requested country.  
Canada and Canadians are facing a serious situation which requires political action.  We have to stop letting our politicians off the hook with delaying, "it's not political" arguments and require them to perform the duties for which they were elected.


Sunday, 7 April 2019

Why Does Everyone Care So Much about This Huawei Issue?

The Huawei case matters to Canadians

I don’t know about “everyone,” but I can tell you why I, as a Canadian, “care so much about the Huawei issue.” In theory Canada and the USA are independent countries and trading partners. However, for most of my adult life, I have been aware of the argument that in practice the relationship is more like a colony and the empire which controls that colony. In this kind of colony-empire relationship the colony can benefit from the relationship and pursue its own interests, but when the interests of the colony and the interests of the empire are in conflict, the colony must always give priority to the interests of the empire. No case in my life time has more acutely demonstrated Canada acting against its own interests in order to serve the interests of the USA than the arrest and extradition of the Huawei CFO.

Diversifying our trading partners versus "the China clause"

As an independent country it is in Canada’s obvious interest to diversify its trading partners, to establish trading relations with other countries and most importantly with China, the second largest and fastest growing economy on the planet. It is in Canada’s interest to adopt Huawei’s 5G technology, and to benefit from the jobs and research that Huawei Canada has to offer. The Americans have made their opposition to Canada-China trade relations clear by insisting on what is known as “the China clause” in the recent US-Canada-Mexico trade agreement.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/...

Arresting Meng blocks Canada's trade with China:  who benefits?

Requiring Canada to arrest Meng (she could have been arrested in numerous other countries) had strategic value for US interests: by causing a rift between China and Canada. Thus the Americans doubly insured that trade negotiations between the two countries would be halted. However, it is not American behaviour which disturbs me and makes me “care so much about the Huawei case.” The behaviour of Canadian politicians and the Canadian media is what I find incredibly frustrating and disturbing—and makes me care about the Huawei case more than ever.

Are Canadians really honest, law abiding and open-minded?

Canadians tend to think of themselves as honest, law abiding, and open-minded. We admire politicians and media journalists who tell us repeatedly that we are honest, law-abiding and open-minded. As long as we keep hearing this message, we have no reason to question ourselves. We can focus our attention and outrage on “other people” who are not as honest as we are. However, in the Huawei case, our politicians have not been honest, the media has simply repeated the lies and mistakes of our politicians, and two thirds of Canadians have believed what they have been told. We have not followed the law, the Canadian Extradition Act, in the Meng extradition case. We have remained closed-minded, refusing—in the public domain—to even consider that the Meng extradition is not in keeping with Canadian law. The Canadian ambassador to China was fired by the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, just for saying that Meng had a strong case—which experts agreed was obvious. The new Justice Minister, David Lametti (the former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould was demoted in the middle of Meng case) has decided to proceed with the Meng extradition. What chance was there that he would decide against extradition when his boss, the Prime Minister, had fired the ambassador, just for saying that not extraditing Meng was a possible outcome? Despite this obvious political interference and the new Justice Minister saying publicly that extradition is “political,” you will still hear politicians, journalists and people in general in Canada insisting that the Meng extradition is a “non-political, judicial” affair.

Why are Canadians operating against their own best interests?

Why are Canadians behaving this way? This is where the case gets so sad and I find myself caring so much. The only reason I can see (other than a total lack of awareness) that our politicians, our media and people in general would behave this way is that they have automatically adopted the attitude of the victim, of the colony, and are convinced that if we don’t do what we think the USA wants, we will be severely punished. How pathetic! We had ample reason to reject the initial warrant: the US Attorney, Richard Donoghue, who issued the warrant, was in a conflict of interest. We had ample reason to deny extradition: it was obviously political, based on Meng’s nationality and ethnicity, and there was no precedent for arresting an executive in this type of case. The Americans (in general) would have accepted our legal arguments and might even have respected our independence, but instead we reverted to cowering acquiescence and the self-delusion that we Canadians are honest, law-abiding and open-minded.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Liberal Entropy: The Challenge of Doing Nothing

Conservative, Liberal, Socialist:  The Basics

I used to baseline the three dominant political positions this way:  a conservative wants the country to stay more or less the way it is or has been, a socialist wants society to change and a liberal believes that everything will turn out fine if we do nothing.  Logically, the Conservative Party tends to attract the well-to-do who are enjoying the status quo.   A left-leaning party like the NDP (the only party I've ever been a member of) will find its numbers in the working and lower middle class.  The Liberal Party enjoys the advantage of the middle-class, middle ground while appearing socialist in public and being conservative in private.  The problem of the Liberal Party isn't so much hypocrisy (though some might rightly call it such) as coherence.  (See Truth and Coherence.)


Me a Liberal?!!  Okay, Maybe Sometimes.

My lefty friends have occasionally accused me of being a liberal.  My conservative friends think I'm a lefty liberal.  I have to admit that, in politics, I often think "nothing" is the right thing to do.  I'm rarely disturbed by what goes on (or doesn't go on) in Parliament, because I understand that "doing something" in politics means forming a committee, or writing a letter, making a phone call, or, in most cases, publicly expressing disagreement, disappointment, and even outrage to the point that a phone call, or a letter or a new committee might be required.  It is easy to forget that the principal reason we elect our parliamentarians is for them to vote, and most of the time their votes have absolutely no effect on outcomes because the issues are always decided in advance of a parliamentary vote.

Doing Nothing Isn't Easy

When the Liberal Party wins 39.5% of the popular vote and therefore 100% of the power in our lopsided democracy (see Are Canadian Elections Democratic?), as they did in our last election, we might imagine we can all relax because nothing is going to happen for the next four years.  However, "nothing" isn't as easy to do as you might imagine.  To begin with, there are those nagging little promises made during the election campaign in 2015.

The Liberal Waltz:  One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Having promised "that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system," the Liberals had the challenge of pretending they were interested in reforming the electoral process while insuring that nothing actually changed.  The Liberals quite rightly and righteously expressed outraged at the imprisonment and torture of Raif Badawi  in Saudi Arabia, then ratified the contract to sell that same Saudi government 15 billion in armoured military vehicles. Liberals never quite being able to pass on a photo op, Chrystia Freeland was there at the airport to welcome a young Saudi woman claiming refugee status.  (Who knew that there was only one young woman in Saudi Arabia who wanted to claim refugee status? Or was this photo op about distracting us from the Meng house arrest?)  On another front, after pledging to "phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the medium-term," it appears that the plan is to hope that no one notices that we are in the end-term and the subsidies are still in place.  Additionally, there is a semantic argument that buying the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan, the Texas oil and gas infrastructure company, for five billion dollars isn't really subsidizing "the fossil fuel industry"--it's more like a gift.

Here I Go Again

Yet, when the perfect opportunity arose to do nothing and doing nothing would serve the interests of Canada and Canadians, the Liberal Government failed to follow through with its own most basic tenant and mantra.  Imagine the scene when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was informed, three days in advance, that  Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, Huawei CFO, was going to be arrested on a warrant from the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Minion:  Mr. Prime Minister the Americans have issued a warrant for the arrest of the Huawei CFO in Vancouver.

PMJT:  Uhhh. Wow.  Uhhh. Holy cow. Uhhh.

Minion:  Don't worry, Mr. Prime Minister, this extradition request is not political.  [Wink, wink].  If it was political we would have to refuse the request.  It's definitely not political so you don't have to worry about it.

PMJT:  If it's uhhh not political, why uhhh are you uhhh telling me about it?

Minion:  Well, we like to notify the PM about these things that are non-political.  When it's political we just call the cops . . . ha, ha, ha!

PMJT:  So Trump wants this Huawei executive arrested.

Minion:  God no.  Trump doesn't want her arrested, or maybe he does.  Actually we don't know what Trump wants, but the extradition request was from Richard Donoghue.

PMJT:  Who's Richard Donoghue?

Minion:  He was the Chief Litigator for CA Technologies.

PMJT:  You mean we are going to uhhh arrest one uhhh tech company exec on a warrant from another tech company exec?

Minion: Donoghue just became a US Attorney, so the warrant should be legit.

PMJT:  So uhh what did this Huawei executive do?

Minion:  That's a bit complicated, but basically she is accused of moving money in Iran.

PMJT:  Is that against the law?

Minion:  Not any more, but it was against the law in 2014 when she is accused of doing it.  The Americans are calling it "bank fraud."

PMJT:  "Bank fraud!"  Shit, Minion, why didn't you say so?  Sort of like that uhh Bernie Madoff guy, eh?

Minion:  The Americans are talking about similar sentencing guidelines.  Thirty years in prison for each count.

PMJT:  Wow wee!  Have a lot of people been doing this uhh illegal money thing in Iran?

Minion:  A ton.  A half dozen major banks have already been convicted.

PMJT:  Geez.  So all these bank execs have been sentenced to multiple thirty-year prison terms.

Minion:  Oh no, Prime Minister. [Stiffing a laugh.]  No one has ever been sent to jail for this.  The banks pay a fine.

PMJT:  So we'll extradite her to pay a fine?

Minion:  No, the Extradition Act requires that it be for at least a two-year prison sentence.

PMJT:  If uhh no-one has gone to prison for this before, why are they talking uhh about prison this time?

Minion:  Uhh, Prime Minister [wink, wink], she's Chinese.  Huawei is a Chinese company.

PMJT:  Can we arrest and extradite someone for being Chinese?

Minion:  Not since the Head Tax.  Today it would be against the law, against the Canadian Extradition Act, to extradite someone because of her ethnicity or nationality or for political or purely commercial reasons or if we thought she was going to spend less than two years in prison.

PMJT:  But we are going to arrest her because she is Chinese, from China, a Communist country, and because Huawei is stealing business from the big tech companies, and even though we know she is never going to spend two years in jail.

Minion:  Yes, but you know, the Chinese, the whole "dangerous" and "national security" thing.  Need to worry about "censorship," "backdoors" and that sort of stuff.

PMJT:  So who's in charge of extradition?

Minion:  Jody.

PMJT:  Our Jody?  Why?

Minion:  Because she's the Minister of Justice.

PMJT:  Still?

Minion:  What do you want her to do, Sir?

PMJT:  Nothing.

Minion:  That sounds like a sound policy, Mr. Prime Minister.


Epilogue

"Doing nothing" would have been the perfect policy in this instance if the message had been passed on to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and the RCMP.  The warrant would not have been served with ample justification for not serving the warrant in the overall circumstances and the Canadian Extradition Act.  Sabrina Meng Wanzhou would have continued her itinerary to Mexico and France.  Neither country, I'm willing to bet, would have served her with the American warrant and, most importantly, Canada would not be in the mess our Liberal government's actions have put us in, when we specifically elected them to do nothing.


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-Raybould.  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-Raybould 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.









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