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Champagne says Meng ruling shows independence of Canada’s extradition process


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Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said today that the B.C. Supreme Court’s ruling in the case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou demonstrates the independence of Canada’s extradition process.

“The Canadian judiciary operates independently and today’s decision on double criminality in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition process was an independent decision,” Champagne said.

“This decision is but one component in a multi-step legal process. The Government of Canada will continue to be transparent about the extradition process for Ms. Meng.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks to reporters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Despite a ruling that is sure to anger Communist leaders in Beijing — Meng’s father, the founder of tech company Huawei, has close ties to the regime — Champagne said Canada will “continue to pursue principled engagement with China to address our bilateral differences and to cooperate in areas of mutual interest.”

Champagne said Canada will continue to press for the release of two imprisoned Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,  and clemency for Canadians who are facing the death penalty in China. Kovrig and Spavor were detained by Chinese authorities shortly after Meng’s arrest, a move widely seen as an act of retaliation.

‘U.S. bullying’

Global Times, an English-language newspaper with ties to the Chinese Communist Party, offered another interpretation of the ruling today. The publication claimed the decision by Justice Heather Holmes “shows Canada lost judicial, diplomatic independence to U.S. bullying.”

Holmes ruled that the U.S. allegation against Meng — that she engaged in fraud by misrepresenting Huawei’s relationship with an Iranian telecommunications company when seeking a loan from the HSBC bank — could also be considered a crime in Canada, and so extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive should proceed.

Meng’s lawyers argued that she shouldn’t be extradited to the U.S. because the criminal charges she faces there don’t meet the “double criminality” test — that the alleged violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran has no parallel in Canadian law.

But the judge found that the Iranian sanctions are secondary to the principal criminal allegation — that Meng lied to the bank when trying to procure a loan for her businesses, which could also be considered a criminal act in Canada.

Under Canadian extradition law, an individual may only be extradited to face trial on foreign charges if the underlying conduct would amount to a criminal offence in Canada if it had happened here.

“A further hearing will take place at a later date to determine whether or not the alleged conduct provides sufficient evidence of the offence of fraud to meet the test for committal under the Extradition Act,” the Department of Justice said in a statement.

“An independent judge will determine whether that test is met. This speaks to the independence of Canada’s extradition process.”

If that judge decides that Meng should be extradited to the U.S., the final decision to surrender the Chinese executive to the U.S. will fall to Justice Minister David Lametti.

Law, not politics

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis, the Conservative critic for multiculturalism and Canada-China relations, said the rule of law is “foundational to our way of life” in Canada.

“Unlike in the Communist system in China, decisions like today’s are based on law, not on politics,” he said. “All decisions made by the Liberal government going forward must be based on the rule of law and Canada’s international obligations, and not based on politics.

“Conservatives continue to demand that the Chinese Communist Party end the arbitrary and unlawful detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and comply with its own international obligation.”

Warnings from the ‘experts’

The Global Times, citing named and unnamed Chinese “experts,” said the judge’s “unjustified” decision will damage Sino-Canadian relations.

The ruling will make the bilateral relationship “worse than ever,” He Weiwen, a former senior trade official and an executive council member of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, told the Chinese newspaper.

Before today’s ruling, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also issued a warning to Canada.

Zhao — who has used his Twitter account to promote a conspiracy theory claiming that a visiting U.S. military sports team deliberately released the novel coronavirus in China — said Canada “should immediately correct its mistake, release Ms. Meng and ensure her safe return to China at an early date so as to avoid any continuous harm to China-Canada relations.”

www.cbc.ca 2020-05-27 20:02:22

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