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Showing posts with label Meng. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Meng. Show all posts

Thursday 6 January 2022

What Have We Learned from the Meng Extradition "Catastrofarce"?

The "Catastrofarce"

In his review of Mike Blanchfield and Fen Osler Hampson's book, The Two Michaels, David Moscrop characterizes the #Meng extradition case as a mix of catastrophe and buffoonery.  To describe the three-year-long "farce," Moscrop suggests the neologism "catastrofarce."  "When all was said and done," Moscrop points out, "nothing was achieved and everyone involved came out poorer than when they had started." True enough, but now we can reflect on all that we have learned from the affair, right?  No?


Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover

Moscrop assesses The Two Michaels as "a missed opportunity" as it failed to probe the context of a "Cold War between the United States and China."  The Two Michaels left much unsaid.  Obviously, a close focus on "The Two Michaels" as "Innocent Canadian Captives" was bound to exclude details of the broader issues.  Blanchfield and Osler Hampson's review of the Michaels' harsh conditions in contrast to the luxury of Meng's Vancouver mansions seemed the same insistence on the marginally relevant reiterated by Canada's legacy media for three years, the same pandering to imagined Canadian sensibilities--"pandas really aren't nice like beavers"--which I attempted to mock in The Panda and the Beaver.

What The Two Michaels leaves unsaid

Despite the subtitle, The Two Michaels has relatively little to say about "the US-China Cyber War."  In the dozen or so times "cyber war" is mentioned, the book's most interesting observation is left largely undeveloped:

Whatever the differences in their circumstances, Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor, and Meng Wanzhou were now bound by one shared reality. All three were pawns in a full-blown technology war for control over global communications [. . . .]

 I noted the authors' excluding relevant  detail in the early going of The Two Michaels when I read this sentence:  "The US and Iran have been enemies since 1979, when a group of radical students in Tehran stormed the American embassy and took hostages in a siege that lasted 444 days."  Dating the beginning of US-Iranian enmity to 1979 and attributing the Iranian revolution to "a group of radical students" leaves unsaid that the USA arranged the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically-elected leader of Iran, then installed and maintained an "oppressive, brutal, corrupt," 26-year-long dictatorship under the playboy Shah Reza Pahlavi in order to protect Anglo-American oil interests.

What about Richard Donoghue?

Donoghue's name, of course, gets mentioned in the Blanchfield & Osler Hampson monograph, as he issued the warrant, conducted the grand jury trial, and argued that Meng Wanzhou should be kept behind bars while awaiting extradition.  The rapid rise and fall of Donoghue's career was directly aligned with the pursuit, arrest and attempted extradition of Meng Wanzhou.  Donoghue's position as a litigator for CA Technologies to becoming US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 2018 to being named Assistant Attorney General to his disappearance from the spotlight paralleled Meng's indictment, arrest and eventual release.  Blanchfield and Osler Hampson have virtually nothing to say about him, never question his background or motives, barely even mention his central role in the "catastrofarce."

And Jody Wilson-Raybould?

Jody Wilson-Raybould was the Minister of Justice responsible for Meng Wanzhou's arrest and the early stages of issuing an Order to Proceed with her extradition.  Wilson-Raybould had the ministerial authority, by law, to dismiss the American request and release Meng "at any time" and put an end to the "catastrofarce" which led to Michael Korvig and Michael Spavor's imprisonment.  Nonetheless, her name appears exactly once in The Two Michaels, in the context of her having been pressured by PM Trudeau and his minions to stop the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.  As I have written in previous posts, it mattered that the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the Meng extradition case and JWR's demotion out of justice were all happening at the same time.  (See "Comparing 'Remediation Agreements' and the Canadian Extradition Act, or Did the Liberal Obsession with SNC-Lavalin Prevent Jody Wilson-Raybould from Dealing with the Meng Extradition?")

In The Two Michaels, former Minister of Justice Allan Rock reaffirmed my speculations that fall-out from the SNC-Lavalin scandal made the government reluctant to act on the Meng extradition.  Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour also confirmed that the government was getting the laws governing Remediation Agreements and those governing extradition upside down.  As I pointed out in "A Comparison of Scandals: SNC-Lavalin Versus the Extradition of the Huawei CFO," the government tried to interfere when the law clearly proscribes interference and refused to act when "the law clearly spells out that political (Minister of Justice) action is not just accepted but expected and required."

Oddly (or does this have something to do with ministerial privilege and secrecy?), in JWR's recent memoir, Indian in the Cabinet, there is not a single mention of the Meng extradition case.  Does Jody Wilson-Raybould recognize that her most consequential act over the course of her tenure as Minister of Justice/Attorney General was to authorize the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, or does her preoccupation with the SNC-Lavalin scandal and her demotion out of justice continue to cloud her judgment of the case and her role in it?

Canada Was being played

Was Canda being played?  For an answer look no further than Adrienne Arsenault's interview with John Bolton on CBC.  Arsenault pointed out (Blanchfield & Osler Hampson also note) that after the warrant for her arrest had been issued (22 August 2019),  Meng traveled to the UK and France.  Both countries have extradition treaties with the USA.  Why wait until she was traveling through Canada?  Was it because the Americans judged that only Canada would be "compliant" (and dumb?) enough to follow through on the extradition request?  In response to Arsenault's question, Bolton smiled and giggled slightly, then recovered himself enough to say "it was a matter of logistics" and Canada's being played was "a conspiracy theory."  As I have suggested elsewhere, just because it's a conspiracy theory doesn't mean it isn't true. (See "The Chaos Theory of International Trade, or How Canada Arrested a Chinese Executive on a US Warrant in Order to Protect Israel from Iran.")

The USMCA trade agreement and the "China clause"

Of course, Canada was being played, and the con job is still unfolding.  The same year we were asked to arrest Meng, Canada was negotiating the USMCA trade agreement (the replacement for NAFTA).  The Americans asked for and the Canadian negotiators agreed to the “China clause” requiring three months notice before Canada could sign a trade agreement with  “non-market countries.”  (The list of “non-market countries” includes China, Vietnam, North Korea and 11 others.)  What sovereign nation would give up its right to unfettered trade negotiations?

Just in case forewarning would not be enough to block Canada's trade with China, the USA requested and Canada acquiesced in arresting Meng thereby guaranteeing, entirely for US benefit, a breakdown in the collaboration between Canada and China which had been developing for 50 years under both Conservative and Liberal governments. We, Canadians, might imagine that the self-sacrificing gesture of arresting Meng at the US request would win some future gratitude and consideration from our American neighbours.  Exactly the opposite has been playing out.  With trade between Canada and China stymied, Canada had even less leverage than usual with the USA.  This period of animosity between China and Canada was/is exactly the right moment for the USA to put the squeeze on Canada--and that is what has been happening:

  • PEI potatoes: banned from export to the USA. In 2020, the USA signed a deal to export Idaho and Washington potatoes to China.
  • Softwood lumber: Canada's trade dispute with the USA has been going on since 1982. The WTO (World Trade Organization) has ruled several times that the US tariffs are unreasonable. In 2021, the USA doubled the duty on Canadian softwood lumber to 17.9%. China is the world's second-largest importer of softwood lumber
  • Trump's "Trade truce": As reported in The Two Michaels, "Trump’s subsequent 'trade truce' with China, signed on January 16, 2020, left Canada dangling in the wind. [. . . .] [It] committed China to buy an additional US$200 billion in American goods over the next two years, including US$40 billion to US$50 billion in agricultural products such as soybeans, canola, fresh and frozen pork, beef, wheat, corn, barley, and a range of machinery, all on preferential terms unavailable to Canadian producers."
  • Electric vehicles made in the USA: Canada's second-largest export to the USA (after oil and petroleum products) is vehicles. President Biden's new legislation requiring that electric vehicles be produced in the USA would effectively shut Canada out of the American market. 

Ironically, Canada is currently trying to negotiate a free-trade deal with ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) which includes Vietnam (a non-market country).  Presumably, according to the "China clause," Canada will have to officially inform the USA in advance of signing a deal.  For what purpose?  Why would the US negotiators demand advanced notice, if not to consider how the deal accommodates American interests and to scuttle it if it doesn't.  Since China is the ASEAN's largest trading partner and is planning to upgrade its relationship, Canada will have to kowtow to both China and the USA--neither of whom have reason to support Canada's free-trade aspirations--in order to sign an agreement.

What I Gleaned from The Two Michaels

In November 2019, a Canadian delegation led by Alan Rock met with Chinese officials in China to discuss the Meng arrest and the incarceration of the two Michaels.  The leader of the Chinese delegation, Wang Chow, insisted that there was no connection between the two cases--a claim we can now easily categorize as a lie.  But, at the same time, Wang quoted Section 23 of the Canadian Extradition Act,  demonstrating that Canadian claims that politicians could not get involved in an extradition case were patently false.  Canadians may not know the Canadian Extradition Act, but the Chinese delegation certainly did. 

Blanchfield & Osler Hampson describe the Chinese delegate's quoting of Section 23 of the Canadian Extradition as exploiting "an inherent loophole in the government’s argument." "Loophole" here appears a euphemism for a "lie."  Rock attempted to argue that Section 23 was "was not necessarily intended for this kind of case" and that it was "extremely rare" for the Minister to halt extradition proceedings.  Rock was quick to admit that it was a feeble argument and "a non-satisfactory response."  Ironically, returning to Canada, Rock, backed by extradition expert Brian Greenspan's investigation and report, presented the same Section 23 argument to Justin Trudeau that, by law, according to the Canadian Extradition Act, the Minister of Justice could release Meng at any time.

Who Is Greta Bossenmaier?

"Greta Bossenmaier" is a name I had never heard before.  Blanchfield and Osler Hampson identify her as Justin Trudeau's "national security advisor" and quote her briefing notes to the PM stating: “The minister has broad discretion to decide, but [. . . ] there are no examples of the Minister discharging a case for political or diplomatic reasons.”

While giving the impression that Bossenmaier was a key player in the decision to hold Meng, Blanchfield and Osler Hampson give no further information about her.  According to my internet search, Bossenmair began her career as a DND scientist, worked for several departments in the public service and was named head of CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Service) on May 23, 2018--six months before Meng was arrested.  Bossenmaier was appointed to the position when her predecessor, Daniel Jean, retired, and retired herself in December 2019.

Bossenmaier's claim that "there are no examples of the Minister discharging a case [. . . .]" was clearly beside the point.  There are no equivalent cases, no precedents for Canada's arresting a Chinese executive on a questionable extradition request from the USA.  The Canadian Extradition Act wasn't the problem; it was the solution.  It laid out step by step exactly what should be done, what must be done, how and why.  It was "paint by numbers," if Canadian politicians could be convinced to follow the instructions.   The Minister of Justice could and should refuse the extradition request because [46 (1) (c)]  it was for "an offence of a political character."  The Minister could and should refuse:

 [ . . .] if 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

The US DoJ (Department of Justice) had cornered HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation) into providing evidence that they had been fooled by Meng Wanzhou into moving money in Iran.  HSBC had to go along with the claim that  Meng committed "bank fraud" or, for the second time, pay heavy fines in the USA for financial transactions in Iran.  Could there be any doubt that Meng was being pursued because she is Chinese, because China is a communist country in a Cold War with the USA?  Could there be any doubt that her position in the USA would be prejudiced for reasons of nationality and politics? Could there be any doubt that had she been German, British, French or Swiss and using Deutsche Bank, Standard Charter Bank, Societe Generale, or Credit Swiss (all of whom have been caught and paid fines for transactions in Iran) the USA would never have even considered a criminal proceeding against her for "bank fraud"?  The Canadian Ministers of Justice had only to judge the obvious and yet it appears that neither Jody Wilson-Raybould nor David Lametti ever did.

The Mystery of RCMP Staff-Sergeant Ben Chang

Not surprisingly, given how soon after the Meng and "two Michaels" saga the book was published, there are gaps in the narrative of Meng's arrest.  Blanchfield & Osler Hampson begin the story in medias res when RCMP "Const. Winston Yep’s cellphone rang."  Yep's supervisor was calling with instructions to arrange a warrant for Meng's arrest.  "Yep was successful in persuading British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Margot Fleming to issue a warrant."   But who was Yep's supervisor on the other end of the phone call? Who was giving orders to Yep's supervisor? When Yep finally informed Meng that she was under arrest, he said: "[. . . ] this is a warrant for provisional arrest under Section 13 of the Extradition Act.”  

Section 13 specifies: 

13 (1) A judge may, on ex parte application of the Attorney General, issue a warrant for the provisional arrest of a person, if satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that

(a) it is necessary in the public interest to arrest the person [ . . .]

The authorization was supposed to come from the Attorney General of Canada (Jody Wilson-Raybould), but the narrative suggests orders and instructions were coming from the FBI.

Reading through the details of Meng's arrest brought back memories of my visit to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg where a copy of the Magna Carta was on display.  
On instructions from the FBI passed on to the RCMP and from the RCMP to the CBSA (Canadian Border Security Agency), Meng was "arbitrarily detained" for three hours. The "Canadian Charter" is explicit: 
10 Everyone has the right on arrest or detention

(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
Only after three hours of detention, interrogation, and being required to give up the passwords for her cellphone and computer (which were passed on to the FBI) was Meng informed that she was being arrested for "bank fraud."  Canadian officials blithely overstepped the Canadian Charter (and the 800-year-old Magna Carta for god's sake), and the media response was to massage the Canadian national ego with reports that we were all "law-abiding" citizens in a "rule-of-law" country.

As reported in The Two Michaels, Canadian Border Security Agent Scott Kirkland immediately intuited that Meng's detention would be a contravention of the Canadian Charter, but still "had a job to do." The great mystery of the imbroglio remains Staff Sergeant Ben Chang, described in The Two Michaels as "a senior RCMP officer [ . . .] who had dealings with an FBI counterpart, John Sgroi, in the days following Meng’s arrest."

Chang retired from the RCMP and moved to China (!?), "where he now works in security at a casino" in Macau. Chang left behind an affidavit swearing that he did not share information with the FBI but refused to testify at the extradition hearing. 


"The Gang of 19"

In 2020, Allan Rock, former Liberal Minister of Justice, and Louise Arbour, former Supreme Court Justice and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a letter to Justin Trudeau pointing out the justice of releasing Meng.  There was no response, not even an acknowledgment of receipt.  Blanchfield and Osler Hampson opine:  "The Trudeau government chose not to offer a basic courtesy to two Canadians who had served their country with great distinction."

As Blanchfield and Osler Hampson report, on June 23, 2020, 

a group of former government officials, senior diplomats (including two former Canadian ambassadors to Washington), and academics sent a confidential letter to the prime minister suggesting that it was time to release Meng in exchange for the Two Michaels.

Was there a conspiracy afoot?  Within twenty-four hours the letter

was leaked by an unknown source to a variety of Canadian news outlets. Both the letter and photos of the Gang of 19, as they were now called, were plastered on television screens across the nation in what looked like a police lineup. Rock and his co-signatories knew immediately that their enterprise was doomed.

Was there a campaign across Canadian media to discredit Rock and Arbour and seventeen other distinguished Canadians?  What editor or producer would willingly agree to describe this group of renowned Canadians as "a gang"?  Still worse, "Gang of 19" was an allusion to the "Gang of Four," a brutal, repressive, and regressive cadre prominent in the final years of Mao's "Cultural Revolution."

Justin Trudeau's Stubborn resistance

Twenty-four hours after receiving Rock and Arbour et al's appeal to release Meng and save the two Michaels, Justin Trudeau gave a press conference and, with uncharacteristic firmness, announced that the government would not engage in hostage diplomacy.  I had speculated that after having panicked when presented with the original extradition request, Trudeau had no choice but to continue promoting the falsehood that extradition was an independent judicial process. 

As I learned from The Two Michaels, Trudeau's decision was likely predetermined by his refusal, in 2015, to negotiate with Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamist group in the Philipines, who were holding two Canadians, Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, and a Norweigan, for ransom.  The Norweigan, Kjartan Sekkingstan, was released after a ransom of $638,000 was paid (according to a spokesman for Abu Sayyaf).  The two Canadians were beheaded.

Robert Fowler, a former UN ambassador, who had himself been held hostage by Al-Qaeda, was adamant that the Trudeau government's refusal to negotiate the two Michaels' release was predetermined by Trudeau's refusal to negotiate for Hall and Ridsdel's release, and was "naive, simplistic, and in this case potentially murderous”  (qt in The Two Michaels).

Hostage Diplomacy

As I pointed out in December 2018, the Chinese arrest of the two Michaels made the optics of releasing Meng more difficult.  The Two Michaels offers extensive discussion of "hostage swap" situations.  The general pattern seems to be that, although official government policy is, typically, to refuse to negotiate for the return of hostages, Western democracies and the USA, in particular, frequently find a way around their own public policies. However, discussions of Meng's release in terms of "hostage diplomacy" or "prisoner swap" or "hostage exchange" consistently obscured the fact that in releasing Meng, Canada would be following the law, not breaking it.

Blanchfield & Osler Hampson claim that Canadians, according to an Angus Reid poll, massively supported Trudeau's decision not to release Meng.  The problem with the Angus Reid poll was that their question offered only two possible answers, and both answers were wrong:

Respondents to the survey had to choose between:  đŸŸ„ break the law (intervene) or 🟩follow the law (continue).  Of course, Canadians responded that we should follow the law.  If Canadians had been told and the question framed accordingly that to "intervene" would be following the law as specified in the Extradition Act and to "continue" was to ignore the law, I imagine Canadians would have responded in exactly the reverse of the numbers provided in the graph above.


What Did Meng confess to?


The two Michaels are home.  Meng returned to China to a hero's welcome.  Dare we consider a cost-benefit analysis?  Canada paid a heavy price for arresting Meng:   over 1000 days in prison for the two Michaels, blocked Canadian imports of beef, pork, and canola, the collapse of a plan for Covid vaccines to be produced in Canada.  The future costs of the breakdown of our trade and diplomatic relations with China are yet to be calculated.  

What did we gain?  Canada showed that we would not be bullied, that we were an independent nation of law-abiding citizens and politicians who followed the rule of law.  Except we weren't following the law and, therefore, we were not being law abiding and, by all appearance, we were being bullied by a cadre of anti-China super-hawks who had deliberately kept the American President out of the loop, and Canada succumbed to the bullying of a warrant without even questioning its provenance.

According to John Bolton, Meng was "a spy and a fraudster" (qt in The Two Michaels).  Meng accepted a deferred prosecution agreement.  There was no question of prison time.  She didn't even pay a fine.  What greater evidence could there be that we never should have arrested her in the first place? Now that the "Deferred Prosecution Agreement" and "The Statement of Facts" are available online we can finally know what crimes she committed and confessed to and for which Canada and Canadians were required to pay such a heavy price.

According to the "Statement of Facts," each of these quotations above was a half-truth, evasion, trick, or outright lie.  Did these eight quoted sentence fragments fool HSBC, which had already been informed via Reuters that Huawei through Skycom was doing business in Iran?  How did these eight sentence fragments constitute a crime which justice-seeking Canada would sacrifice its interests and citizens to see prosecuted?  To understand Meng's "crime," it is necessary to understand the USA's "weaponizing of the dollar."

"Weaponizing the dollar"

Meng's lawyer attempted to argue that a conversation in 2013 involving a relatively small series of transactions ("US$2 million over thirteen months") between a Chinese business person (Meng) and a banker (from HSBC) which took place in China should not be considered a crime in US jurisdiction.  Blanchfield & Osler Hampson make vague reference to "a practice known as 'dollar clearing'” to explain the debate.

A number of banks, all over the world, are licensed as "clearing houses," which means they can process extremely large transactions between corporations and countries. The issue is perhaps better understood in terms of the recently much-discussed notion of the USA's "weaponizing of the dollar." As Satyajit Das explains in Business Standard:


The USA has been using its incredible privilege of printing/digitalizing the global reserve currency and consequent control over the finances of the global economy to punish Iran.  As we have seen in the Meng case, anyone who asks a bank to transgress a regulation put in place by the USA risks criminal prosecution for bank fraud.  No-one can stop China or Europe from doing business in Iran, but the USA can prosecute the use of a US-licenced financial institution for transgressing US regulations. 

"Weaponizing of the dollar" is a hotly debated topic, and now we Canadians know what it feels like to be enforcers in a system most of us didn't even know existed.

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?

Thursday 7 November 2019

When It Comes to China, Do Canadians Believe the Media?

The Media blitz

Since I first published a post ( 10 Dec 2018) on Canada's arrest of the Huawei CFO, Meng Wanzhou, I have been baffled, awestruck and frustrated by the refusal of Canadian media to question the legitimacy of her arrest and extradition.  Since I began the process of my own modest online inquiries, I have noticed that the National Post, the newspaper founded by Conrad Black before he went to prison (he has since been pardoned by President Trump), has published some of the most strident anti-China editorials.  Although, Black sold the paper to one-time Liberal Izzy Asper, in recent years "the Post has retained a conservative editorial stance."

What does "freedom of the press" mean?

Obviously every newspaper in the "free" world is owned by somebody. Does it matter who owns a newspaper or a media company?  I don't know.  I've never worked for a newspaper.  I'm not particularly courageous or selfless, so I imagine that if I worked for a large media company I would be reluctant to risk my job, my salary, my social position and connections by publishing anything that I knew ran seriously counter to the interests and ideology of my top-of-the-pyramid employer.  I find it discouraging that Robert Maxwell "who embezzled hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies' pension funds" also controlled hundreds of newspapers. (His daughter, Ghislaine Maxwell,  is in the news with claims that she was sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein's madame, supplying him with juvenile prostitutes.) It is hardly encouraging that Robert Maxwell's nemesis, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, "faced allegations that his companies, including the News of the World, owned by News Corporation, had been regularly hacking the phones of celebrities, royalty, and public citizens. Murdoch faced police and government investigations into bribery and corruption by the British government and FBI investigations in the U.S."

Does it matter that the Globe and Mail is wholly owned by The Woodbridge Company which is the private holding company of the Thomson family?

Is Reuters covering the story, or is Reuters the story?

As your typical diffident Canadian, I have long been aware but not terribly disturbed by the fact that our news comes to us through channels that usually have owners.  As a Canadian, I think that we have CBC News and are therefore immune from tampering.  However, this seemingly innocuous article disturbed me: "New documents link Huawei to suspected front companies in Iran, Syria."

Why is it disturbing? If you followed the link, you will realize that it is presented under the banner CBC News.  However, this is not by any stretch of imagination CBC News.  As the small print and the content of the article make clear this is a publication of Thomson Reuters, the news agency owned by The Woodbridge Company of which the Thomson family are the principal shareholders.  Reuters is categorical that "Our correspondents do not use unconfirmed reports as the basis of a story, nor do they offer subjective opinion."  Nonetheless, readers need to be alert to the fact that what appears to be the research and writing of journalists from our national public broadcaster is, in fact, the work of un-named authors working for a private company principally owned by a single family.

Reading the article you will quickly discover that Reuters isn't just reporting the story, they are the story.
 . . . corporate filings and other documents found by Reuters in Iran and Syria show that Huawei, the world's largest supplier of telecommunications network equipment, is more closely linked to both firms than previously known.
Reuters have actively been building a case which might ultimately be used against Meng.  As they report, somewhat proudly:
Articles published by Reuters in 2012 and in 2013 here about Huawei, Skycom and Meng figure prominently in the U.S. case against her. 

Does Thomson Reuters have skin in the Meng-Huawei game?

Under "normal" circumstances, we would praise journalists for the hard slogging, investigative journalism required to unearth evidence.  However, in this case, we don't know who the authors are.  We are encouraged to believe that this "news" comes from the CBC, but obviously no CBC journalists were involved.

Does Thomson Reuters have any skin in this game?  Is it reasonable to ask this question?  I ask the question quite naively, but the result is surprising.  Thomson Reuters has gone through significant restructuring this year.  (I own 16 shares of Thomson Reuters stock by the way.) In its Annual Report for 2018, Thomson Reuters announced "In October, we sold 55% of our Financial & Risk (F&R) business to private equity funds managed by Blackstone for approximately $17 billion and retained a 45% interest in the new company, which is now known as Refinitiv."

Refinitiv, as its website displays, is collaborating on China's "Belt and Road Initiative" (aka "The New Silk Road") which the company describes as "The Infrastructure Project of the Century."  Thomson Reuters is now invested in China.  Will we begin to see a softening of positions and warming toward China in the Globe and Mail and Reuters' reports?  On November 4, Reuters still appeared to be maintaining a negative slant on China, but on November 5, along with everyone else, they reported on the front page of the Globe and Mail print edition that China had lifted its ban on Canadian beef and pork.

[This link (above) is to the "Global News" website.  Since I'm on the theme, I checked to see "who owns Global News?"  It's owned by Corus, which is controlled by the Shaw family.  Wherever you get your news in Canada, there is likely to be a family at the top of the pyramid.]

Same numbers different story

Reuters published this article 4 Nov 2019:  "Less than a third of Canadians view China favorably -poll."  Considering the media coverage, I think the real and surprising news is that 29% of Canadians continue to view China favourably. Reading this "Less than a third" headline, I was reminded of living in Quebec during the referendum years.  I can vividly recall standing at the counter of my local depanneur (corner store).  Glancing down to my right, I saw the bold, front-page headline of the Montreal Gazette: "One Third of Anglos Determined to Leave an Independent Quebec."  Looking to my left, the front-page headline of the French-language La Presse read "Two Thirds of Anglos Happy to Remain in an Independent Quebec"  [my translation from memory]. Same numbers different stories.

Summarizing a UBC survey, Reuters reported:
“The chill is real,” concluded the survey. China is now viewed favorably by 29% of Canadians, down from 36% two years ago but up from 22% in February, it concluded.

 

"Canadian Public Attitudes on China and Canada-China Relations"

"The chill is real" is a direct quotation from the UBC report, but the sentence appears on page 2, and is not a conclusion to the report as a whole.  "The chill" refers only to the drop of 7% from the previous survey two years ago.  Oddly, survey numbers indicate that attitudes toward China have warmed by 7% since February.  In the face of a Canadian media blitz condemning China for the arrest of two Canadians, and numerous reports on the threat China poses to Canada, it is astounding that one third of Canadians continue to view China positively.  (Keep in mind, that one third is almost as many Canadians as voted for the re-elected Liberal Party in the recent election.)

Survey says . . . 

The results are even more surprising, given the tenor of the survey as a whole which includes questions about human rights in China, references to Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and a substantial listing of all the reasons a Canadian might perceive China negatively.  A frankly amazing statistic (again given media coverage) is presented in the conclusion of the report:

A plurality (39%) of respondents felt arresting Meng was a mistake, and a plurality (35%) feel she should be released before judicial proceedings complete.

Consider:  if "arresting Meng was a mistake" were a political party, it would have formed a majority government in the October 2019 election.  Despite our politicians and our journalists, Canadians are impressive.  Being "wary of China while supporting continuing contact" and releasing Meng--all make perfect sense.

Is Canada’s Print Media Fair on China

Influential, misinformed Canadian media hurts China-Canada relations: envoy


Monday 4 November 2019

The Panda and the Beaver

The Difference between pandas and beavers

The panda and the beaver are very different animals.  The panda is big and black and white, eats bamboo and likes to sleep in the top of trees.  The beaver is small and brown, eats maple trees and lives inside a beaver damn.  Beavers and pandas don't have much to do with each other, except that eating maple trees is good for bamboo, and eating bamboo helps the growth of maple trees, so they got along.  Then one day the eagle told the beaver, those pandas have been helping the leopards, so you should grab that panda cub when she comes near your pond.  Beavers always do what the eagle tells them to, so they did.  They grabbed the panda cub and brought her underwater to their lodge.  The beavers treated the panda cub very nicely because beavers are nice.  When the pandas saw what the beavers had done they were very upset and they grabbed two beavers and brought them to the top of the trees.  Beavers don't like being high in the air--pandas aren't nice like beavers.  Then the pandas began to drain the water out of the beaver pond--pandas really aren't nice like beavers.



The Beaver response

When they saw what was happening the beavers did what beavers do, they slapped their tails against the water to make a loud noise.  When the eagle heard the noise he understood and said: "Yes, what the pandas are doing isn't nice!"  The beaver slapped its tail some more and the rooster and the lion and the kite and the falcon and camel all agreed that "the pandas weren't nice like the beavers."  And the beavers all agreed "we're nice, but the pandas aren't."  But the bear and the crocodile and the cobra and the leopard and lots of other animals still seemed to like the pandas.  So the beavers told themselves some more, "Pandas aren't nice like beavers."  But the two beavers stayed in the trees and the pandas continued to drain the pond.


Is the panda a dragon?  What kind of dragon?



Enough Aesop's already--except to quote a line from a documentary on China and the New Silk Road:  "China is a friendly dragon, but it's still a dragon."  Canada's relationship with China, its second-largest trading partner, is the most acute and urgent problem facing legislators, but I heard no substantive discussion of the issue during the recent election campaigns.  Only one politician, Yves-François Blanchet, leader of the Bloc QuĂ©bĂ©cois dared to mention China in the leaders' debate.  Blanchet proclaimed that it was foolish of Canada to arrest the Huawei CFO, trying to flex muscles that it did not have before China. In his report on the debate, Paul Welles, in keeping with what has become the Anglo-Canadian journalistic meme, took the opportunity to play to Anglo-Canadian self-righteousness mixed with a bit of Quebec bashing, while alluding to how law-abiding we have been been in arresting Meng.

He [Blanchet] did say arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou “may have been a big mistake,” which I will take as his way of letting everyone know that a sovereign Quebec would ignore its obligations under extradition treaties. 

Had Welles taking 45 minutes to consult the Canadian Extradition Act, or the  Treaty on Extradition Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, or even the Public Prosecutor Service of Canada's clear instruction that "Extradition treaties do not themselves create an obligation or a power to arrest in Canada," he might have reconsidered his mockery of Blanchet.  However, these days the job of most Canadian journalists is to repeat not to research.


China's new "Silk Road" 

For most of its history, Canada's economy has depended on trade with the USA to function and survive.  However, China has been challenging the USA as the world's largest and most powerful economy.  As the USA has adopted a fuck-you-if-you're-not-American economic policy, China has been subsidizing massive infrastructure projects all over the world--hundreds of billions spent in 65 different countries so far.   The size and scope of Chinese global subsidies have been compared to the USA's Marshall Plan after the Second World War.











How should Canada behave in this battle of Titans?

A number of editorials and Jonathan Manthorpe's recent monograph, Claws of the Panda:  Beijing's Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada emphasize that we should mistrust and fear the current Chinese regime.




Okay.  Once fear and mistrust have been established, then what?  Manthrope judiciously points out that "engagement with China cannot and should not be avoided" and claims that his book is not "arguing that Canada should distance itself from the current regime in Beijing."  However, since his premise is that representatives of Chinese diplomacy or business can be viewed as "spies" for a "fascist" regime in Beijing, a thick cloud of suspicion is cast over virtually every interaction between Canada and China.

Here's the smoke, where's the fire?

In these cautionings about Canada becoming too cozy with China, concrete examples and hard evidence never quite match the level of the sensational rhetoric and headlines.  The essayists'  evidence is often in the form of guarded references and allusions to CSIS (the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service).  CSIS itself is part of the problem.  Our Intelligence Service has yet to gain the recognition of the population or the confidence of our political class.  (This is, after all, the organization that Arthur Porter, who was convicted of receiving $22 million in bribes from SNC-Lavalin, was tasked with overseeing.)  Evidence, purportedly coming from CSIS, of Chinese malfeasance, is in the form of leaks and anonymous sources--all under the required veil of secrecy.  When there are supporting public documents such as the  National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Annual Report 2018, they don't quite live up to the dire, definitive headline:  "It's official – China is a threat to Canada's national security."  Or, as in the case of Rethinking SecurityChina and the Age of Strategic Rivalry, linked on the CSIS website, we are informed that what we are reading is not a CSIS report but the opinions of un-named academics. Ultimately, when Manthorpe offers potential solutions, they sound much more like the status quo, a (re)new(ed) cold war, or simply too abstract to be meaningful:

. . .  future governments in Ottawa need to prepare the ground. They need to cement political, economic, social, and security ties within NATO and the G7, along with other like-minded countries. Canadian politicians need to assume a much tougher and more self-assured attitude toward Beijing than is now the case.
If these are the solutions, can the threat to Canada be that dramatic?

The Examples of Australia and New Zealand

Warnings of the Chinese threat in Canada typically cite the examples of New Zealand and Australia.  In fact, when the argument is being presented that China is a threat to Canadian sovereignty the authors most frequently quoted are from Australia and New Zealand--Clive Hamilton and Anne-Marie Brady respectively. (See, for example,"Academic who blew the whistle on China's influence on Australia says Canada is in even worse trouble, [take note of the quite innocent but dire looking photo] and  "How China uses shadowy United Front as 'magic weapon' to try to extend its influence in Canada."  Both articles published in the National Post.)

I agree with Manthorpe that the Australians have been a "good deal louder" than we have in discussing their relations with China.  Watching the Australian television series Pine Gap, I was struck by how the challenge of being in the middle of a China-versus-USA conflict is forefront in the Australian imagination.   Fiction aside, Pine Gap is, in reality, a "US satellite surveillance base" run jointly by Australia and the USA.  "The station is partly run by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), US National Security Agency (NSA), and US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and is a key contributor to the NSA's global interception effort, which included the ECHELON program."  If you watch the tv series to the end, you will discover that these fictional Australians are much more concerned by the recklessness of the American regime than by the financial investments of a Chinese businessman in their communities.

There is more to fear than fear itself

It makes perfect sense to be wary of Chinese investments and influence in Canada, particularly as China is expanding its global empire and, in some instances, using debt-trap diplomacy to achieve its objectives.  There is no doubt that the current regime in China espouses and promulgates a system of values which runs counter to the dominant values of the West.  General Secretary Xi Jinping's Document 9 on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere clearly and explicitly spells out those differences.  We need to have an open, public discussion of Canada's relationships with China.  Describing those relationships as "a war" and couching the discussion in terms of espionage do not strike me as helpful.  At the moment we seem to have fear-mongering in one corner and naivety in the other, but willful ignorance about everything in between.  The absolute refusal of Canadian politicians and media to discuss all aspects of the Meng arrest is evidence of our current inability to have an open discussion.

"Open discussion" is NOT the same singular argument presented over and over

Global News published a commentary this morning in which it is observed that "Meng is living in a gilded cage at one of her two multi-million dollar homes in Vancouver and is free to go shopping and eat out."  How many times do we need to hear this beside-the-point inanity before someone finally asks, "Were we justified in arresting her in the first place?"

Jonathan Manthorpe was invited to discuss his book on TVO's The Agenda.  The episode, Exposing China's Influence in Canada, was bookended by references to Canada's arrest of Meng.  Both the introduction to the show and Manthorpe's penultimate answer referred to the arrest of the Huawei CFO. However, in discussing the "Huawei affair,"  Manthorpe described it as "the kidnapping and holding hostage of two Canadians."  Not a single word was spoken about the Meng arrest which precipitated this reprehensible response.  I certainly agree with Manthorpe that in our dealings with China we have to ask "How does this benefit Canada?"   How has arresting Meng benefited Canada?

Back to Aesop

The panda princess is still being held in a "luxurious" beaver lodge, beavers are still being held in the trees and the pandas continue to drain the pond.  How is the newly-re-elected leader of the beavers going to deal with the situation?  He's going to make it rain!


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.


"Three Days of the Condor" and the Tenth Anniversary of "The Sour Grapevine"

Sharing Intelligence I'm still obsessing over " sharing intelligence ."  May 15th was the tenth anniversary of this blog.  I w...