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Canadian Liberal Party

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
U.S. formally requests extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou

The Canadian government has received a formal request for the extradition to the United States of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, as a judge in Vancouver agreed to a minor change in her bail conditions.

The action comes a day after the United States unsealed 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction against her and the company.

The release of the indictment documents has brought new clarity to the U.S. case, Nathan VanderKlipppe writes, but between the pages of detailed allegations lay the subtext of a shift with generational consequences.

The Dec. 1 arrest of Ms. Mengat Vancouver International Airport at the request of U.S. officials thrust Canada into a diplomatic dispute with China, which has detained two Canadians and sentenced to death a third.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said today that the government is trying to get consular access to a Canadian man arrested in Macau over the weekend on fraud allegations, but it has no reason to believe that the arrest is linked with the cases of the two other men detained in China.

Opinion: “ The U.S. knows the hell it has thrown Canada-China relations into as a result of Canadian authorities having taken Ms. Meng into custody at Washington’s behest,” Lawrence Martin writes. “Where, it might be asked, is the compensation?”

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
VANCOUVER—Former ambassador John McCallum’s break from Ottawa’s official messaging suggests Beijing was employing strategies from a “well-honed playbook” designed to sway ambassadors into representing state-friendly perspectives, say experts in foreign affairs.

While not illegal or necessarily sinister, the practice of “gaming” envoys and businessmen by playing to their egos with the illusion of “special access” is a tried-and-true method to subtly draw foreigners into alignment with the political aims of the Communist Party of China, said James Palmer, editor of Foreign Policy Magazine.

“China has a habit of singling out individuals ... for its own influence campaigns,” Palmer said in an interview.

Palmer lived in China for 15 years, during which time he worked as a journalist and historian.

“They attempt to basically woo them, and they have a very good playbook for wooing them … And it’s not even about ideological or financial compromise, it’s about playing psychologically to these guys.”

Meng, who is currently on bail in Vancouver, appeared in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday following a formal extradition request from the United States the day before.

The U.S. government announced nearly two dozen criminal charges against Huawei Technologies on Monday, accusing the company of technology theft, bank fraud, obstruction of justice and money laundering. Allegations of “bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud” were levelled against Meng personally for statements provided to one of Huawei’s major banking partners about the company’s operations in Iran.

McCallum had initially been forced to walk back comments that Meng’s legal counsel had good reason to argue the charges against her were politically motivated. The message was a stark break from the line previously held by Canadian officials, who almost unanimously stood by the legal process as legitimate and independent.

He announced his resignation on Saturday after repeating the comments a second time, following his initial retraction, to The Star.

Missives in the Global Times and China Daily — news organizations with ties to the Chinese state — depicting McCallum’s exit as confirmation of the illegitimacy of Canada’s legal process are a further indication the former ambassador was viewed as an ally by Beijing, said Palmer.

“They clearly saw McCallum as an asset, as somebody who they very successfully wooed through this program,” said Palmer, who worked for Global Times for seven years.

Jorge Guajardo, who served for six years as Mexico’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, agrees. The same strategies described by Palmer, he said, were used against him during his time in Beijing.

Guajardo emphasized he doesn’t know McCallum or have any special window into his motivations in this case. But when he first heard McCallum’s comments, Guajardo reports having immediately recognized the earmarks of a campaign of influence by Beijing.

“Having been there, (I thought), ‘I know why he’s saying those things,’” he said. “Because they game you, in a sense.”

Whereas newly posted foreign ambassadors in Western countries are typically put in touch with government officials of all stripes, when a foreign ambassador first arrives in Beijing, they are given zero access, said Guajardo.

Then slowly, over time, ambassadors are told particular, high-ranking Communist Party officials wish to meet with them because they’re “special” and “obviously” have a unique understanding of the nuance and delicacy of the party’s position, he said.

“And they keep playing up this idea that you’re special (by granting the same access) any ambassador would get in any other capital,” Guajardo said in an interview.

The mind-game of cultivating an envoy as a “special friend” to China who believes he has singular access to — and understanding of — the country’s political inner-workings is key to ensuring the diplomat will become an ally in Beijing’s efforts to see its interests taken up abroad, he said. And this relationship becomes especially useful during periods of dispute between China and an ambassador’s home country.

“This is typical Chinese playbook: to convince the ambassador from a foreign country that his country is not acting correctly, and that ‘of course’ he understands that they’re not acting correctly, and, ‘I’m telling you as a friend because I like you and I don’t meet any other ambassadors,’” he said. “And they start getting into your head that way.”

McCallum was the first elected official appointed as a head of mission to China — a post that dates back to the establishment of a Canadian embassy in Beijing in 1971. Previous to his appointment in 2017, McCallum was a Liberal member of Parliament for over a decade-and-a-half, serving as a federal minister under three different prime ministers.

Without commenting on McCallum’s situation specifically, former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney confirmed Guajardo’s account.

“China is amazingly successful at convincing people, including seasoned diplomats, that the most important thing in the world is maintaining good relations with China,” Mulroney said in an email. “By this they generally mean not commenting or otherwise reacting to something egregious that China has done.

“They persuade people by playing to their vanity, making them believe that their unique understanding of China is evidenced by their ability to keep things calm and untroubled. They do this because it works — for China.”

Mulroney’s analysis echoes Guajardo’s summary of the underlying issue: that Beijing views foreign diplomats as outgoing communication channels, rather than resources to develop an understanding of foreign countries.

What the world lacks, Guajardo recounts being told by officials in Beijing, is a nuanced understanding of China. And developing that understanding for the world is what Communist Party officials believe the work of a foreign ambassador should be, he said.

Every diplomat wants to contribute to better relations between capitals, he said. And no one wants to pick a fight with foreign officials. But operating as a conduit for messaging from a foreign capital is antithetical to the purpose of ambassadorial work, he said.

“You want to have the Chinese ambassador to Mexico explaining China to the Mexicans, and you want the Mexican ambassador to Beijing explaining China to the Mexicans? Who is supposed to explain Mexico to China?” he said.

“They are so invested in explaining themselves to the outside world that they have no energy left to understand the outside world ... and they don’t care.”

With files from Michael Mui and Tonda MacCharles

Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering community issues and Canada’s drug policies. Follow him on Twitter: @perringrauer

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Likely construction delays will mean Ottawa overpaid for Trans Mountain, PBO says

Parliament’s spending watchdog Yves Giroux said there is a high risk that construction delays and cost overruns will mean the Liberal government overpaid when it spent $4.4-billion last year to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline, its related expansion project and other assets, Bill Curry writes (for subscribers).

In a report released today, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates the value of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the expansion project at between $3.6-billion and $4.6-billion. The PBO’s figure does not include related assets such as pipeline terminals that were included as part of the federal purchase.

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Ethics Commissioner to investigate alleged PMO interference in SNC-Lavalin case

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has launched an inquiry into allegations the Prime Minister’s Office interfered in a criminal case involving one of Canada’s largest companies, SNC-Lavalin. The Globe’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reports that Mr. Dion said there is enough evidence to warrant an investigation under the section of the Conflict of Interest Act that prohibits a public office holder from seeking to influence a decision that would further their private interest or the private interests of a friend or relative.

Last week, The Globe reported the PMO pressured Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was the attorney-general then, to intervene in the Quebec construction giant’s legal case.

Since then, there have been several developments:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his office never “directed” Ms. Wilson-Raybould to get involved, but the denial fell flat because it seemed the PM was relying on semantics to avoid answering the question.
  • Senior government officials confirmed there were indeed discussions on SNC-Lavalin with Ms. Wilson-Raybould, but just because there was a “vigorous debate” that doesn’t mean the office exerted pressure on the then attorney-general.
  • Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer wrote Mr. Trudeau an open letter yesterday asking him to waive Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s solicitor-client privilege. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also made a statement on Sunday calling on transparency. Also on Sunday, Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s successor, David Lametti, said it was still possible he could direct the prosecution service to settle those charges out of court.
We have published several opinion and analysis pieces on the subject, including today’s editorial, which argues Justin Trudeau has a lot of questions to answer. Sandy White, a Montreal-based entrepreneur and former adviser to the Conservative government, wonders what sort of signals politicians and the courts are sending, and The Globe’s Bill Curry has an analytical piece on how the SNC affair might affect Liberal fortunes in Quebec. And late last week, Adam Radwanski weighed in on the Liberals’ ethics ghosts.


TRIBE Member
I wonder what announment is coming regarding aboriginal affairs, I think that's about the only thing he can give her that might make her stay and put this headache to bed.

I really hope not politicians should be accountable and I'd love to see it start at the top