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VOL. 77 PART 2 MARCH 2019
and from its own citizens who oppose the ‘stupid’ actions of Ottawa”.2 The
Global Times, a Chinese tabloid affiliated with the People’s Daily (published
by the Communist Party), apparently told its readers that “the Chinese
embassy in Ottawa was being barraged with gifts, condolences, and regretful
phone calls” from Canadians “imbued with a sense of justice, criticizing
the Canadian government for its unreasonable behaviour”. One Chinese
blogger wrote that the arrest of Meng was “merely an exercise in showing
loyalty to the United States, a country that has always ignored them”. It is
difficult to know whether people who read such things believe them.
In our view, it may be tedious or even trivial to some extent, but as
lawyers we ought to be wading into every single conversation about these
issues and reminding people that Canada is a rule-of-law country. Our laws
are known and accessible. They apply equally to all. Various fundamental
rights are afforded each one of us, including the right to life, liberty and
security of the person; freedom from arbitrary detention and imprisonment;
the right to legal counsel; and perhaps most significantly in the context
of this situation, the guarantee of habeas corpus—the right to be brought
before a judge to have the legality of a deprivation of liberty determined.
Canadians even have the right to an interpreter in a court proceeding.
Meng, being in Canada, has been afforded all of these legal rights, which is
a lot more than can be said for the aforementioned Canadians facing the
Chinese legal system. What’s more, Meng is able to mount a defence to the
proceedings brought against her by the United States. She can fight the
application for extradition before an independent and impartial tribunal.
While this piece was being written, Canada’s ambassador to China, John
McCallum, was forced to resign over statements he made in which he enumerated
Meng’s possible legal defences:
One, political involvement by comments from Donald Trump in her case.
Two, there’s an extraterritorial aspect to her case, and three, there’s the
issue of Iran sanctions which are involved in her case, and Canada does
not sign on to these Iran sanctions. So, I think she has some strong arguments
that she can make before a judge.3
McCallum, who holds a doctorate in economics, is no lawyer, so one wonders
if he was rattling off this list of legal defences from some memo he had
reviewed on the topic. He later claimed that he “misspoke” when he laid out
the legal issues for Meng’s defence team (which is hard to believe), but he
then went on to spout off about how it would be “great for Canada” if the
U.S. dropped the extradition request, and it was therefore appropriate to
show him the door.
Canada’s legal system is properly free from political interference. Judges
must be free to weigh the evidence before them; like Dame Justice they