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June 23, 2020

Meng's case continues to haunt us

Reuel S. Amdur

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On May 27, Justice Heather Holmes ruled that the American request for extradition of Meng Wanzhou could continue, as the charge of fraud is a valid basis for such action. The implication is for probably years in additional appeals and wrangling. As a result, we can foresee that Chinese custody of two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovig, will continue throughout the process of Meng's legal procedures, leaving them to Xi Jinping's not-so-tender-mercies. They were taken into custody in retaliation for her being freed from custody on tight bail conditions. All but forgotten by his government, Imam Huseyin Celil, a Uyghur human rights defender and Canadian citizen, has been held in China since 2006.

 Trudeau’s action (or inaction) in this envelope reminds one of a remark by Cavour, an Italian patriot who played a major role in Italian unification.  “What cads we be were we to do for ourselves what we do for Italy.”  In our case, the principle is reversed.  Anything goes in Trudeau’s personal interests, while we make ourselves lily-white in dealing with China.

Trudeau waded in the muck in trying to save SNC Lavalin from justice because, as he explained to cabinet colleagues, a number of the employees of the company live in his riding.  Dealing with China on the Meng envelope is of a different order.  Here Trudeau applies Immanuel Kant’s aphorism: Fiat justitia, pereat mundus.  Let justice prevail even if the earth perishes.

Chrysta Freeland, Trudeau’s second in command, explained that for Meng justice must take its course, through the courts.  No wiggle room here, even though Donald Trump said that he was prepared to drop charges against Meng in exchange for unspecified Chinese trade concessions.  After all, it is America first.  As far as the interests of our citizens in China, it appears that it is Canada far down on the list.

There is absolutely nothing to prevent Canada from doing a deal with China—Meng for Celil and the two Michaels.  China is extremely clear on how desperately they want her back.  She is a key officer in Huawei, the Chinese company peddling its G5 computer system.  Hence, it is quite likely China would buy such a trade.  But no, justice must run its course.  As a result, three Canadians in Chinese custody need to hope for a good quality of rice in their rations. 

This is not the only occasion in which Canada has refused to act in Celil’s interest.  There have been cases in which Chinese charged by their government with fraud and corruption have been returned at China’s request.  Stephen Harper was also a party to that practice.  Canadian courts found that the charges warranted their return, and off they went.  Did Canada insist that in exchange Celil should be returned?  Of course not.  Each case is handled separately.  Fiat justitia. . . .

So, what does the future hold?  Our three men will remain in custody till, as Freeland has said, justice has run its course.  After the courts are done, either Meng will go free or she will be subject to extradition to the United States. 

In the first case, the two Michaels will probably be released, after years in prison.  Not so Celil.  In the second, the Canadian government will be in a position not unlike what it is in now.  Release her or turn her over to the Americans.  If she is released, will Canada insist on exchanging her for the three Canadians, or only two?  If she is extradited, we can foresee a very bleak future for all three.

On a final note, why is Canada’s Muslim community totally silent on what is happening to their imam?

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