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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query meng. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query meng. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, 7 April 2019

9,000 SNC-Lavalin Jobs Versus 250,000 Canadians Who Make Their Income from Canola

Canola matters!

Watching CPAC the other day I was taken aback to read the caption that 250,000 Canadians, including 43,000  farmers, make their incomes from the sale of canola.  (See https://www.canolacouncil.org/markets-stats/industry-overview/ for more.) 40% of Canada's canola is sold to China.  China is currently blocking all imports of Canadian canola on the grounds that it contains contaminants.  (Remember when George W. Bush blocked the importation of Canadian beef for two years? I actually know some Canadian beef producers who went bankrupt as a result.)

An exercise in futility

In Canada, the common presumption is that the Chinese blockade is retaliation for the fact that we continue to hold Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO, under house arrest pending extradition.  This Chinese retaliation is outrageous, unfair, unjust; therefore, it's time for all of us Canadians to get together and scream and howl and whine and throw tantrums at one another.  Feel better?  I don't.

The obvious, legal, just solution:  release Meng Wanzhou

The solution is obvious, legal, just and appropriate: release Meng Wanzhou.  ( See A Dozen Reasons the Minister of Justice Should Release Sabrina Meng Wanzhou.)  Rather than doing what is obvious and justified our politicians have painted themselves (and us) into a corner with the false and hypocritical claims that in Canada extradition is a "non-political, judicial affair" and Canada is following "the rule of law." No matter how obviously false and how many ways these claims can be disproven, they continue to be repeated.  (Please consult the Canadian Extradition Act.)

In comparison to the consequences of Canada's arrest of Meng, the SNC-Lavalin scandal is minor--unless you are a politician

Despite the serious consequences for individual Canadians of the breakdown of our diplomatic and trade relations with China, Canadian politicians and the media remain relentlessly focused on the SNC-Lavalin soap opera.  It might seem a stretch to imagine that 250,000 Canadians are about to lose 40% of their income (or 100,000 Canadians are about to lose 100% of their income), but even if the numbers are inflated, they are the tip of the iceberg of consequences about to come our way.  By comparison, the loss of 9000 SNC-Lavalin jobs is the lesser disaster, but even this claim has been debunked.  The company has signed undertakings, agreements and leases requiring that it remain in Canada for years to come.  The only real consequence of the SNC-Lavalin scandal is that, come October, in the game of musical chairs that we call Canadian democracy, some politicians will lose their seats and others will get seats.  The ramifications for individual Canadians will be minuscule. In contrast, Canadian bungling of the Meng extradition request has (according to most commentators) led to the imprisonment of two Canadians, the death sentence of a third, and, potentially, massive job and financial losses for Canadians in both the short and long term.  An additional consequence is that, in the eyes of the world, Canada will appear, not just plain stupid, but ready and eager to kowtow to American dictates no matter how spurious and counter-to-Canadian interests the requests.  (See Why Does Everyone Care So Much about the Meng Issue?)

The US Grand Jury indictment is an invitation to release Meng

The US attorneys have unsealed the Grand Jury indictment of Meng Wanzhou and made it available online.  You can see the complete document here:

https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1125021/download

Rather than showing Meng's potential guilt, the indictment seems almost like an invitation to Canadian officials to dismiss the extradition request.  If you read the document carefully, you will discover how weak, insubstantial, unprecedented and lacking in evidence the accusations are.  It is pretty dry reading, so let me parse out a few key passages and observations.

Guilt by association

The indictment conflates four defendants.  This conflation has the rhetorical effect of making Meng guilty by association. Let me unpack the obvious point here, because it really matters, even though it's surprising that it needs to be said:  being the citizen of a country accused of spying or corruption does not make you a spy or a criminal.  Being the employee, even the CFO, of a company that is accused of a crime does not make you a criminal.  Being the daughter of a man accused of a crime does not make you a criminal.  Despite the obviousness of this logic, the indictment attempts to make Meng Wanzhou guilty of a crime, simply by associating her with Huawei, with her father, the founder of Huawei, and with Skycom, a German company doing business in Iran.  However, since the Canadian concern is only with the accusations against Meng, it should be a simple matter to separate her, as an individual, from the co-accused--all of them companies--she is being associated with.

Meng is the only individual ever charged for doing business in Iran

To reiterate, Meng Wanzhou is the only individual to be accused in the indictment, the other defendants are companies.  In fact, Meng is the only individual ever to be accused of a crime in this type of case even though there is a long list of companies and financial institutions which have been convicted of the crime she is accused of indirectly committing--moving money in Iran.

Here is a short, selected list of the companies which have already been convicted in the USA of financial dealings with Iran:

J.P. Morgan Chase:  the company paid a fine of $5.3 million

Deutsche Bank was caught making transactions in Iran worth $10.86 billion and was fined $258 million.

Societe Generale, the French bank, undertook $15.5 billion in transactions with Iran and was fined $1.3 billion

Hewlett-Packard sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products to Iran  I haven't found evidence of any punishment having been enforced against HP.

Standard Charter Bank was convicted of doing 100s of billions of dollars of business with Iran and was fined $1.5 billion.

ING, Barclays, Credit Suisse, ABN Amro Bank, and the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group have all been convicted of contravening American sanctions and paid fines.

Canadian Extradition is political and the decision is up to David Lametti

In all of these cases not a single individual was convicted or even charged with a crime.  The  Minister of Justice, David Lametti, is tasked, according to the Extradition Act, with considering "all the relevant circumstances" and determining if the extradition request is "unfair" or would impose a penalty of less than two years imprisonment on the individual accused, or is based on politics, ethnicity or nationality.  How can the Minister look at this list of precedents and conclude that the extradition request is fair, that it is not political, not based on Meng's nationality or ethnicity, and will likely result in Meng serving more than two years in an American prison--as required by the Act?  Should reason prevail, the Minister according to the law can dismiss the extradition request "at any time,"  yet, I have seen no evidence that the possibility is even being considered or, based on the firing of Canada's ambassador to China, is even allowed to be considered.

What is the evidence that Meng committed a crime?

If Canadian law (the Extradition Act) does not convince you that Meng should be released, consider the evidence against her as spelt out in the indictment.

"Between approximately February 2008 and April 2009, MENG served on the SKYCOM Board of Directors."

She was on the board of Skycom for approximately a year.  None of the members of the board of any companies doing business with Iran which I have listed above has ever been charged with a crime.  The USA has an extradition treaty with Germany, but no other member of the Skycom board, past or present, has been accused of a crime.

The only evidence of a potential crime is a PowerPoint presentation and some "talking points" from 2014 which she had deleted from her laptop (and presumably the FBI or CIA or NSA of DoJ were able to recover--while they manage to make deleting an old file seem very suspicious).  I have read through those "talking points" which are in English, but I have to assume English is not the language in which she wrote them, and I can't see any way in which they are relevant.  I invite you to consider them and (if you can) please explain to me how they are evidence of a crime.

As for the PowerPoint presentation, which has been under discussion since the day Meng was arrested (and as her lawyer immediately pointed out, she did not prepare herself):

"During the meeting, which took place on or about August 22, 2013, MENG spoke in Chinese, relying in part on a PowerPoint presentation written in Chinese. Upon request by the Financial Institution 1 Executive, MENG arranged for an English-language version of the PowerPoint presentation to be delivered to Financial Institution 1 on or about September 3, 2013. 
19. In relevant part, the PowerPoint presentation included numerous misrepresentations regarding HUAWEI's ownership and control of SKYCOM and HUAWEI's compliance with applicable U.S. law, [. . . .]"
This very thin thread is, apparently, the only evidence that Meng, as an individual, committed a crime.  It is not pure pedantry to point out that "Chinese" is not a language, any more than Indian, African, Canadian or Brazilian are languages.  Presumably, she spoke in Mandarin to the executive of "Financial Institution 1" (as it is identified in the indictment) and the executive in question also spoke Mandarin.  We know from earlier published reports that "Financial Institution 1" is, in fact, HSBC (the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation).  Anyone who understands translation would also understand that a translated document should never stand as absolute evidence unless it can be carefully compared to the original text.  It seems safe to assume that the Grand Jury could not read Mandarin.

The victims of Meng's crimes

Despite the seriousness of the issues, it is hard to read the expression "Victim Financial Institutions" in the indictment without a sour chuckle.  These "victims" are exactly the financial institutions which have been making billions in profits from sidestepping US sanctions against Iran and other countries (some of which I have just listed above).

As the New York Times pointed out

"In 2017 [ . . .] HSBC provided the prosecutors with Ms. Meng’s 2013 PowerPoint presentation. HSBC said this week that it was cooperating with the government and was not under investigation itself."
The same article details that prior to the Meng investigation
"federal prosecutors had accused it [HSBC] of willfully failing to stop money laundering by customers, including in countries like Iran. To settle that investigation, HSBC had paid a $1.9 billion fine, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and agreed to have a court-supervised monitor installed inside the bank."

HSBC and the US Attorney make SNC-Lavalin and the Liberals look like lily-white, innocent lambs 

(Yes, HSBC got one of those precious "deferred prosecution agreements" that SNC-Lavalin has been begging Canadian prosecutors and politicians for.)  The point here is that HSBC has huge financial incentives for putting the blame for their most recent financial transactions in Iran onto Meng Wanzhou.   The US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard Donoghue, the former Chief Litigator for CA Technologies, a Huawei competitor, who led the prosecution team in the Grand Jury hearing and issued the original warrant for Meng's arrest in Canada, also appears to have a vested interest in allowing HSBC to escape prosecution and making Meng responsible for HSBC doing business in Iran.

In a democratic country that prizes free speech, why has there been no discussion of the merits of Meng's defence?

Since December 1, 2018, when Meng was first arrested (actually since three days before, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was informed of the pending arrest) the Canadian Minister of Justice (Jody Wilson-Raybould at the time, now David Lametti) has had the right and the obligation according to Canadian law (the Extradition Act) to "at any time" refuse the arrest and deny the extradition.  Despite the absurdity of the conflicts-of-interest situation, despite the law, despite the weakness of the case against Meng, no-one (with the exception of the now-fired John McCallum) has dared to say a word about the merits of Meng's defence in the public domain.

Meng's bail conditions compared to Bernie Madoff's

Despite the urgency of the situation and the potentially dire consequences of the Meng extradition,  Canadians remain mired in media coverage of the endless he-said-she-said melodrama of SNC-Lavalin.  The comment I hear most frequently from Canadians about the Meng extradition is "Oh look, she gets to stay in her Vancouver mansion!"  Just for the record, the Meng bail conditions, a 10-million-dollar bond and house arrest, are exactly the same bail conditions which US courts imposed on Bernie Madoff, the Wall Street titan who ran a 64-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme defrauding pension funds, charitable foundations and thousands of individuals.




Saturday, 5 January 2019

A Dozen Reasons Why the Canadian Minister of Justice Should Release the Huawei CFO, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou

The "Canadian Extradition Act" Gives the Minister of Justice the Right and Obligation to Release Meng

It's becoming more and more obvious in the media (social, anti-social and other) that the  request for Sabrina Meng Wanzhou's extradition is bogus. Contrary to what you may have read or heard from Canadian politicians about extradition proceedings being out of the hands of the political leadership, the Canadian Extradition Act clearly states that:  "The Minister [of Justice] is responsible for the implementation of extradition agreements, the administration of this Act and dealing with requests for extradition made under them." (For more see Was Freeland Lying?  and How Canada Arrested a Chinese Exec.)

According to The Act, the Canadian Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould, can and should intervene in an extradition if she considers it "unjust" after reviewing "all the relevant circumstances."  She can "at any time withdraw the authority to proceed and, if the Minister does so, the court shall discharge the person." The "circumstances" provide ample reasons and The Act provides specific injunctions requiring the Minister to intervene in the case of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou; including the "political" nature of the extradition request, that the request is based on Meng's "nationality and ethnicity," that her alleged crimes would not be prosecuted in Canada, that her alleged white-collar crimes would not warrant two years of imprisonment as required by The Act, that the character and legitimacy of the warrant for Meng's arrest, detention and extradition are highly questionable, and that while the legitimacy of Meng's detention and the extradition proceedings are in serious doubt, they pose a threat to public safety and are counter to Canadian interests.



1. The charges against Meng are not substantive enough to warrant extradition.  

Various media outlets have repeated the claim that each of the charges against Meng is punishable by 30 years of imprisonment.  Stop and consider:  why are we being fed this piece of information?  The exact details of her alleged crimes have remained sketchy, so why has this precise detail of 30 years of imprisonment been so widely and precisely promulgated?  Who is spreading this claim?  For what purpose?  More to the point, even based on the most exaggerated rumours of the seriousness of Meng's alleged crimes, does anybody really believe that an American court is going to throw her in jail for the next 30 or 60 or 90 or 120 years?  So why this emphasis on the maximum sentence?  Because, according to the Extradition Act, in order for the extradition process to proceed, it must be clear that Meng's crimes would be punishable by at least two years of imprisonment.  We don't extradite people for minor crimes; we don't extradite people to pay fines, or be put on probation or be imprisoned for less than two years.  In the aftermath of the financial collapse of 2008 and extensive evidence of wrongdoing, no American was convicted of a crime, but the punishment for white-collar crime in the USA has become a much debated topic.  Based on the information leaked to the public so far, Meng's alleged white-collar crimes fall well below the two-years-of-imprisonment threshold required for extradition.

2.  The accusations against Meng would not constitute a criminal offence in Canada.   

According to media reports, Meng is accused of contravening trade sanctions against Iran; Huawei, of which she is CFO, is accused of selling technology in Iran which contained US components and/or patents, and Meng is accused of bank fraud.  Of these three accusations only "bank fraud" would be a criminal offence in Canada.  To keep it simple, "bank fraud" is stealing money from a bank--but without pointing a gun at anyone.  (You might want to have a look at Should Bank Robbery Be Deregulated?) However, the "bank fraud" in this case is related to sanctions against Iran in that she is accused of failing to inform or hiding from bankers that Huawei owned a shell company which owned a company called Skycom which was doing business with Iran.  (For more detail see:  The Chaos Theory of International Trade.) How much money did she steal?  There is no hint of an answer to this question in the media.  I suspect the answer will be zero.  How much the banks lost determines how long the prison sentence could possibly be.  The claims of a 30-year prison sentence imply that the banks (or a bank) lost billions.  I have seen no claims concerning the amounts that the banks lost despite the repeated claims of multiple 30-year prison sentences. As reporters for the New York Times point out:  HSBC (the bank Meng is accused of defrauding) has repeatedly been convicted of money laundering.  In order to avoid another conviction in the USA for moving money in Iran, they threw Huawei CFO Meng under the bus, claiming that she tricked them into doing it.

Patent Infringement would be a civil and not a criminal case, therefore not grounds for extradition.  Moreover, patent infringement is such a common occurrence in large American companies that the practice has spawned a new expression: infringement efficiency, which means, in short, that stealing patents is good business as long as the amount of money you end up paying if you are found guilty in court is less than the profit made from the stolen patents.

3.  Contravening trade sanctions against Iran is not a crime in Canada.  

(See the Canadian Government's Guide for Doing Business in Iran.) In order to continue to push for extradition, the US Attorney will have to keep pushing the idea of "bank fraud," despite the shadowy, sketchy chain of events which will need to be proven.  The necessary sequence of accusations depends on trade sanctions against Iran.  Canada does restrict trade with Iran, but those restrictions only apply to materials for the construction of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.  The accusations against Meng refer to statements she made (or failed to make) in 2013 or 2014 (depending on which news report you believe).  The year or years are crucial because in 2016 the Obama administration negotiated an anti-nuclear deal with Iran and trade sanctions were lifted.  In 2018 the Trump administration reneged on and cancelled that agreement and unilaterally imposed new sanctions.  Here's a legal question:  Would we prosecute someone for committing a crime which is no longer a crime in Canada?  Need some context?  We just legalized possession of marijuana.  Will we prosecute people if we find proof that they possessed pot before it was legalized?  Still not convinced?  In 1968, homosexuality and various forms of recreational sex were legalized in Canada.  Do you imagine that we might have continued to convict people for acts of homosexuality and oral sex in the 1970s?  We would not prosecute Meng in Canada because the underlying basis of her alleged crimes is currently not criminal in Canada.

4.  There is an underlying conflict of interest in the request for Meng's extradition.  

As I outlined in an earlier post (The Chaos Theory of International Trade), Richard Donoghue is the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  In a matter of months, Donoghue went from being an employee of CA Technologies (their Chief Litigator, in fact) to spearheading the request for Meng's arrest, detention and extradition.  The mere fact that he was so recently employed by a Huawei competitor strongly suggests that he might still be acting as an agent for the benefit of CA Technologies, which puts him in an apparent, if not actual, conflict of interest.

5.  The extradition request is based on Meng's nationality and ethnicity.  

The Canadian Extradition Act explicitly instructs that the Minister of Justice "shall refuse to make a surrender order if the Minister is satisfied that  . . . .  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.  German banks continue to do business in Iran.  The USA has an extradition treaty with Germany, but there have been no reported moves to extradite executives of German banks.  Skycom, the German company at the centre of the accusations against Meng, continues to operate, and there have been no moves to extradite German executives.  When the Standard Chartered Bank of Britain was convicted, in 2012, of doing hundreds of billions of dollars of business with Iran through its New York office, they were required to pay a fine.  No criminal charges have been laid.  Banks found to be in noncompliance and fined with operations in the United States include Barclays, ING, Credit Suisse, Lloyds, and ABN Amro.  No bank executive has faced criminal charges for doing business in Iran.  There is little doubt that the only reason Meng is being singled out for criminal prosecution is because she is Chinese and her company is Chinese.

6.  The extradition request is political.  

The Act specifies that the extradition will be refused if "the conduct in respect of which extradition is sought is a political offence or an offence of a political character."  The political nature of the request is so obvious, it seems redundant to comment.  However, the moment that President Donald Trump tweeted that he was prepared to intervene in the case, he made the case political (if there was any doubt that it already was).  If this case is about "national security" as is being constantly and slyly implied by US politicians and others, then the extradition request is by definition political.  To date, no one has claimed that Meng, as an individual, has done something to jeopardize American or, more importantly in this case, Canadian national security.  [By firing the Canadian Ambassador to China, John McCallum, for stating the obvious--that Meng had a strong case against being extradited--PM Justin Trudeau reinforced the "political" nature of the case.  Worse still, the PM has prejudiced the case against Meng.  The new Justice Minister, David Lametti, will be hard pressed to refuse the extradition after his boss, the PM, fired the Ambassador just for saying Meng had a case.]

7.  Canada is being played.  

For all intents and purposes the extradition request looks like a move by American tech giants to undermine a Chinese technology company which has been taking over a huge swath of the global market share.  Far from attempting to further justice and punish the crimes of an individual, what we are witnessing is one group of business interests blocking the development of a competitor by arranging the arrest of the company's CFO.  My prognosis is that Meng will never be convicted of a crime worthy of imprisonment.  It is unlikely that she will ever stand trial.  However, 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.

8.  Public safety.  

The arrests of two Canadians by Chinese authorities, ostensibly in retaliation for the Meng detention, have made the optics of releasing Meng more difficult.  Nonetheless, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Public Safety (Ralph Goodale) and the Minister of External Affairs (Chrystia Freeland) have the obligation to confer with one another and recognize that they have to prioritize the safety of Canadians over dubious demands for the extradition of one Chinese citizen.

9.  Canadian self-interest.  

Every kid in the schoolyard knows that if some bigger kid asks you to punch yourself in the head, you are being bullied--and if you submit to this bullying, you are encouraging more bullying in the future.  It is in Canada's interests to diversify its trading partners.  It is, in particular, in Canada's interests to increase trade and friendly relations with China.  Canada will greatly benefit from Huawei's 5G technology, and the research funding and business development which Huawei Canada offers.  Of course, we need to maintain our trading partnership, friendly relations and military alliances with the USA, but the occasional demonstration that we are willing to act in our own best interests should strengthen the mutual respect that makes these relationships work.

10.  Canadian sovereignty.  

Historically, when Canada has asserted its independence from American military and foreign policies, our independence has served us well.  Prime Minister Jean Chretien's refusal to enter George W. Bush's Iraq war in 2003 is a good example.  Similarly, PM Lester B. Pearson kept Canada out of the Vietnam War in the 60s.  On June 1, 2018, the Trump administration's imposition of a 25% tariff on Canadian steel on the grounds of "US national security" together with Trump's alienated nationalism has provided a conspicuous opportunity for Canadians to recognize the importance of Canadian independence from American hegemony.  Unfortunately, Canada accepted the inclusion of the "China clause" in the recent US-Canada-Mexico trade agreement which, according to some analysts, has given the USA rights of veto over future Canadian trade deals--in particular, over our trade with China.  The American warrant for the extradition of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou trapped us into the embarrassing situation of arresting Huawei's CFO at the same time that we are courting and receiving Huawei investment in Canada.  Worse still, the arrest of Meng puts a halt to our developing relationship and plans for increased trade with China--once again surrendering our sovereignty to American interests.  Pathetically, in the arrest of Meng we are not even serving explicit American national or security interests, just the corporate interests of American technology companies.

11. Canadian "peace, order and good government."  

Clearly, Canada and China have ideological differences, although I suspect those differences are not well understood in either country.  Canada's ideological tendencies are quite different from those of the USA, and the difference has become pronounced in recent years.  In contrast to the American Declaration of Independence's valourization of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," the Canadian constitution sets out the objectives of the Federal Government as "peace, order and good government."    The American pursuit of life, liberty and happiness has resulted in a state of near-constant warfare throughout the USA's history. The question which our Minister of Justice needs to ask in the Meng extradition case is:  "what decision will best promote and exemplify 'peace, order and good government' in Canada?"  As sparsely and sporadically as I have been informed of the details of the case through the media--and I trust the Minister has been more thoroughly informed--I have become convinced that Canada would be best served by Meng's immediate release.

12.  Canadian respect for the Chinese.  

The Chinese response to the Meng arrest has been to describe it as a gesture of disrespect toward China and the Chinese people.  Canadian apathy toward the Meng arrest has led me to fear that Canadians have been conditioned to accept the melodramatic myth of "The American 'good guys' versus the Chinese [and Asian in general] 'bad guys'."  Distance makes it easy for Canadians to ignore the empirical facts that while the Americans have been spending trillions of dollars on wars in Iraq and elsewhere, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, the Chinese have raised 800 million of their fellow citizens out of poverty, and China has not been engaged in a war since the 1970s.  Canada must also respect the Chinese because they have been part of its history since Canada's earliest development in the 18th century.  There are 1.78 million Canadians of Chinese ancestry currently living here.  They have contributed to every aspect of life and culture in Canada, perhaps most iconically represented by our former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.  Sabrina Meng Wanzhou has herself been a long-term resident of Canada. Attitudes of mistrust and suspicion are unwarranted and insulting to the Chinese of China and to our fellow citizens.  No doubt, apologies will be forthcoming--because we're good at that--but the Government of Canada should act quickly and not allow this insult to linger.



PS Since I first published this post on January 5, 2019, Jody Wilson-Raybould was demoted from Justice to Veterans Affairs.  The middle of a crisis requiring action from the Minister of Justice seems a very strange time (or was it deliberate obfuscation?) to be changing the Minister, but that is what the Government of Canada has chosen to do. David Lametti became the new Minister of Justice. On Feb. 7, 2019, despite denials 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/…/decision-whether-to-extradite-hua…

PS2 On February 12, 2019, Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned her position as Minister of Veterans Affairs in the Trudeau cabinet. The prevailing assumption is that Wilson-Raybould resigned because of reports she was under pressure from the PM's office to allow the engineering firm, SNC-Lavalin, to pay a remediation agreement rather than face further criminal proceedings for bribes they were alleged to have paid in Libya in 2002 to 2011.  In the wake of the Meng arrest, two Canadians remain in jail and a third is facing the death penalty.  In terms of significance and potential consequences, the SNC-Lavalin affair doesn't even compare to the Meng extradition, but SNC-Lavalin has disappeared the Meng extradition from media coverage.

PS3 In a feature article in the February edition, Maclean's magazine reported that "29 percent of Canadians align with Beijing’s views, believing the arrest [of Meng] was politically and economically motivated."  In other words, almost 1 in 3 Canadians believe that the Meng arrest was contrary to Canadian law--the Canadian Extradition Act.  Imagine what the numbers would be if the Canadian media told the whole story, instead of the fable they think Canadians want to hear about our being law-abiding, transparent and honest in this case.  Imagine what the numbers would be if our Canadian representatives, like John McCallum, were allowed to tell the obvious truth--that Meng has a strong case against extradition--without being fired.

PS4 On January 28, 2019, the US Justice Department released its 13-count indictment against Huawei.  If you read the Justice Department announcement carefully, you will note that there is nothing new in the accusations against Meng.   The only direct accusation against Meng is that she misinformed executives of HSBC, as described above.  There are four (4) defendants named in the indictment.  It is worth noting that Meng is the only individual, the only executive, named as a defendant.  The other three defendants are companies, reinforcing the fact as noted above, that there is no precedent for criminal charges against an individual executive in this type of case.


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?

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

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