Meng Wanzhou extradition case tainted by U.S. political interests, says NDP MP at Chinese consulate event
|Toronto Star 21 Jan 2020 at 08:39|
VANCOUVER—The federal New Democrats are standing behind an MP who described the arrest of Meng Wanzhou as tainted by the political interests of the United States while he attended a party hosted by the Chinese consulate earlier this month.
Don Davies, the MP for Vancouver Kingsway, was attending Lunar New Year celebrations Jan. 10 at Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore when he made his comments to a reporter from a Chinese-language TV station.
Meng, an executive of the company Huawei, was arrested at the request of the United States while transferring flights at Vancouver’s international airport en route to Mexico in December 2018.
“My reading of the Extradition Act is that, at the end, there is a role for the political body. In this, the minister of justice does have, ultimately, some power and decisions,” Davies said. “I thought from the beginning that this case was tainted by the political interests of the United States and Donald Trump. I think that’s clear from Mr. Trump’s own words.”
Shortly after Meng’s arrest, U.S. president Donald Trump mused he’d intervene in the case if he thought it would help craft a trade deal with China.
did not include Davies’ comments on the minister of justice, but the Star obtained an unedited version.
Davies also said he wants the dispute to be resolved in a “proper and correct” way and for Canada to move forward “forging close relations” and building both countries “for the people.”
“The fact of the matter is that the case is now before the courts,” Davies said. “I’m hoping that a good airing of all of the issues, the real issues, in the court case are brought quickly and comprehensively before the court, that there’s a quick decision.”
His office did not return a request for an interview about the comments.
The allegations against Meng go back as far as 2007 and include charges of bank fraud. Her official extradition proceedings started Monday in Vancouver.
Shortly after Meng’s arrest, two Canadians in mainland China, consultant Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, were arrested by Chinese authorities in what many observer said was retaliation for the Meng arrest. The two have been in custody since their arrests and their case, on vague charges of national security breaches, was moved to prosecutors last month.
Beijing also implemented trade actions against Canada, some of which have since been lifted.
It isn’t the first time Davies has publicly criticized Meng’s detention as political. In 2018, the MP released a statement shortly after Meng was arrested in which he made similar comments and called for Canada to not extradite Wanzhou.
The NDP’s foreign affairs critic, Jack Harris, said he doesn’t see any issue with Davies’ latest comments because he made reference to the case being in court. He said the stance doesn’t break from the party’s on the issue.
“I don’t see that being any different than what we’ve said before and still say,” Harris said. “This is a case that we acted, as a country, in response to our legal obligation under a treaty and the arrested Meng. He clearly said, yes, this is a complex case, and there’s lots of different views on it.”
China, too, has charged Meng’s arrest was political.
But Charles Burton, an expert on Canada-China relations at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said it’s “distressing” to see Canadian politicians who “should” know how Canada’s legal system works taking the same line as Beijing on Meng’s case.
“I think it’s also distressing that some Canadian politicians, who should understand how our system works, would support the Chinese government’s perspective that Meng Wanzhou’s arrest is political,” Burton said.
He said the comments made by Trump about the case should be “readily discounted.”
Burton said the detention of Kovrig and Spavor, plus other measures taken by China to punish Canada for the arrest, make for a delicate time in Canada-China relations and speaking counter to Ottawa’s strategy is counter productive.
Burton said it’s up to government officials to speak with foreign governments, particularly on international relations.