My Log 781: Jan 20,2020: Chronicles from my Tenth Decade: 216:
Canada caught in the middle; tomorrow’s extradition trial of Meng Wanzhou will challenge concepts of law and order, and is being watched closely by authorities everywhere
Tomorrow the extradition trial of Meng Wanzhou, the senior executive in the Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei --- incidentally, the largest company in the world in its field of electronics --- opens in a Vancouver courtroom, apparently to the interest of people around the world who regard it as an opportunity to deliver a lesson to the Chinese Communist leadership of how the rule of law should work.
I have written several times that Ms. Meng should have been released, because it appears that the request from the United States for her extradition was politically motivated, and there is nothing to compel Canada to follow US political direction, especially now under the bizarre influence of Donald Trump. To arguments that Canada is a country that follows the rule of law, I have hitherto argued that since no one except the Minister of Justice can order an extradition, our government’s argument is hollow to the extent that the final decision is a matter for political, and not necessarily legal, decision.
But in what seems to have been a wide-ranging debate on this subject, that is viewed as reaching far beyond the borders of Canada, some powerful arguments have emerged, especially from some people who have been personally affected by the admittedly brutal Communist concept of and conduct of, law.
I do not underestimate this: in 1978, when China was in full Communist mode, I remember as we were driven around the town of Shijazhuang, coming upon what was called a struggle session, in which a line of hapless accused were standing on the back of a big truck, their hands behind their backs, their eyes penitentially cast towards the ground, in an atmosphere of complete subjection as they were ]being harangued by some authority figure in the name of justice. The fact was, and apparently still is, that in China under Communist rule, once you are accused of anything, you are almost automatically declared to be guilty, and there is no countervailing concept of impartial justice to protect you. When I put this idea to my lawyer son he replied that the system in Canada was not much different since accused persons have to wait in custody so long for their trial that it could be said of our system, as of theirs, that once you are accused you are in for the high jump.
An important revelation is made in today’s Globe and Mail in an article by their correspondent Nathan Vanderklippe, and it is followed by an article by two North American based, Montreal educated, Chinese lawyers, Times Wang and his sister Ti-ana Wang, who speak of recently meeting their father, Dr Wang Bingzhang, himself a lawyer, who has been imprisoned in China since 2003 for his advocacy of human rights, and appears to be in for life. Their father made a surprising suggestion to his son, that he should try to be signed on to the legal team defending Ms. Meng. As the two children explained in n op ed article, their father said, “You’re both lawyers …Let’s show them what human rights really means.” That is not likely to happen but one can see Dr Wang’s point: teach and illustrate by showing how a decent legal system works.
There appear to be two routes by which Ms. Meng could be released rather than handed over to the erratic US legal system, which appears more and more to be coming under the influence of this nightmare President. The first is what will be considered first in this week’s trial, and it is the question of whether the crime with which Ms Meng is charged can be considered also to be a crime in Canada. The crime concerns an alleged attempt to dodge sanctions imposed against Iran after the withdrawal of the United States from the five-power agreement with Iran engineered by Barack Obama. Prima facie, as a lawyer might say, that seems like a closed and shut situation from the start. It cannot be said to have violated any Canadian law, so the case is closed.
The second route to freedom for Ms.Meng could be that our Minister of justice whoever he or she may be, might come to a decision that there is no case for her to answer, once the matter comes into his hands, and cancel the whole proceeding. There is an assumption that in such a case, China would release the two Michaels who have been held in poor conditions in China for more than a year, and that normal commercial relations would be resumed, which would be a relief for many Canadian farmers.
What has happened is that Canada has been caught, not through any action of its own, between the two economic giants, China and the United States. Sine Canada has ben operating as a sort of American vassal in this case, it would appear to have every reason to get out of it by whatever means is available.
It will be interesting to watch the progress of this trial and to see how (and if) Canada can emerge from it with credit.