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For once, Canada didn’t cave in to Huawei

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To get your head around what’s really going on with the ominous Vancouver arrest and detention of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom behemoth Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, it will help to be disabused of what the story isn’t about.

This is not merely a case of Canada being dragged into an unseemly trade-war street fight that has lately flared up between two belligerent hegemons, Xi Jinping’s China and Donald Trump’s America. Another stupidity making the rounds would have you believe that Beijing’s hysterical, spittle-flecked threats to retaliate against Canada can be explained away as a matter of the Chinese ruling class simply not knowing how things are done in countries governed by due process and the rule of law.

Beijing knows perfectly well that Canada is acting on a perfectly legitimate request from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs in accordance with the relevant terms of a long-standing, tried and tested extradition treaty. An evidence-rich Aug. 22 arrest warrant requires Meng to appear in a U.S. court to answer criminal charges that she committed fraud against U.S. banks by concealing Huawei’s connections to a Huawei proxy in Tehran that was doing business with Iranian telecom firms, in violation of U.S. sanctions law. She was picked up on a flight stopover at Vancouver International Airport.

Meng is the daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder and president Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army officer with close ties to Beijing’s Communist Party bosses, so it only follows that Beijing would be attentive to her every need and worry. Meng also happens to have been a permanent resident of Canada some years ago, when she could be counted among the 30,000 or so Chinese wealth migrants whose quasi-legal deluge of investments in Vancouver real estate has played such a significant part in hideously distorting Vancouver’s housing market.

What distinguishes Meng’s case is that it is one of those rare occasions, if she is eventually found guilty of the charges against her, that a prison term may result from a conviction for evading sanctions specifically intended to isolate a belligerent police state. It is no coincidence that it was the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office that was undertaking the criminal investigation of Huawei, and issued the warrant for Meng’s arrest. HSBC, one of the main banks Meng is alleged to have conned into acting as a conduit for dirty Iranian money, was busted by the Brooklyn office back in 2012.

READ MORE: Chinese Huawei executive arrested in Canada accused of fraud over Iran sanctions

HSBC was fined $1.92 billion for laundering billions in drug money and conducting illegal transactions with Libya, Cuba, Sudan and Burma. Part of the settlement deal required a stringent monitoring of HSBC’s transactions over a five-year period. If the monitoring was effective, it would have picked up Meng’s sketchy dealings.

Controversially, settlement deals like the HSBC arrangement became the norm in the United States during the Obama administration. Trump carried it on in the deal his administration struck earlier this year with ZTE Corp., another dodgy Chinese telecom. Last year, ZTE pleaded guilty to selling American equipment to Iran, eventually paying $1.89 billion to get a total ban on its American business lifted. Just last month, the French bank Societe Generale agreed to pay $1.34 billion to settle sanctions-busting proceedings against the company involving 2,500 transactions with entities in Iran, Cuba and Sudan over a 10-year period.

Nobody went to jail in those cases, and that may be crude justice, but Meng’s appearance in a Vancouver courtroom last week was not a “show trial,” as the Communist Party megaphone China Daily ludicrously claims. It was a bail hearing, at which her lawyer offered up two occasionally-occupied Vancouver mansions as surety.

Neither was her arrest a “kidnapping,” as the Chinese commerce department bureaucrat Wei Xinyu claimed in the party-owned newspaper Global Times. In the most comically intemperate language, Chinese diplomats have demanded that Canada release Meng immediately, to assuage China’s “hurt feelings.” Over the weekend, China’s deputy foreign minister Le Yucheng threatened Canadians with “serious consequences” unless we do what we’re told.

They should all be told to pound sand, of course, but it is perfectly understandable that Beijing would feel free to take this sort of tone. Among the G7 countries, Canada has adopted a uniquely supine posture in its relations with Beijing and its legions of creepy billionaires. Unlike Canada, our partners in the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance—the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom—have not been slobbering on Huawei’s slippers all these years.

It was long before Trump came along that a bipartisan consensus had established itself in Washington that Huawei—beholden to the Communist Party as all Chinese corporations are, by law—posed a particularly serious national security threat. The Obama administration adopted strict measures to quarantine Huawei, and there’s nothing new about the Shenzhen-based conglomerate’s shady dealings in Iran, either. In 2012, Zaeim Electronic Industries, Huawei’s Iranian partners, listed Iran’s defence ministry, the regime’s intelligence branch and the terrorist-listed Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps among its clients.

Australia and New Zealand are intent on barring Huawei equipment from their fifth-generation (“5G”) internet development. Only last week, British Telecom confirmed that Huawei gear will not be permitted in any of its emerging 5G technology. BT is already stripping Huawei equipment from core areas of its 4G networks following warnings from the U.K.’s cyber-security offices and MI6, the U.K.’s foreign intelligence service.

Japan is excluding Huawei and ZTE from public procurement, and last month the European Union adopted a draft law that would restrict Chinese investments in areas that impinge upon national security. “We are determined to keep our technology sectors and key infrastructure safe,” says Austria’s Margarete Schramboeck, who holds the EU’s rotating presidential office.

In stark contrast, Canada has welcomed Huawei with open arms, direct subsidies and tax credits, and in return, after having arrived in Canada only a decade ago, Huawei has deftly insinuated itself into the good graces of Canada’s political class. Huawei has embedded itself in research programs in 10 Canadian universities. Telus and Bell have both taken Huawei on as a partner in the development of 5G technologies. Huawei is now the presenting sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada.

Earlier this year, Jake Enwright left his post as Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s communications director to take up a more lucrative position as Huawei’s director of corporate affairs in Canada. Long-time Liberal Scott Bradley, the Liberal Party’s candidate in Ottawa Centre in 2011, is Huawei Canada’s vice-president for corporate affairs. Bradley is also a director of the Canada-China Business Council (CCBC), which serves Canadian businesses in China as assiduously as it serves China’s business interests in Canada.

Huawei is one of CCBC’s “benefactor” members. Another CCBC director is former Liberal cabinet minister Martin Cauchon, who rather inauspiciously greeted news of the Ontario government’s $6.5 million gift to Huawei in 2011 with these words: “There is a saying that if you can’t beat them, join them.”

Canada has joined them, alright—despite the warnings of U.S. intelligence agencies, former Canadian Security Intelligence Service directors Richard Fadden and Ward Elcock, and John Adams, former head of the Communications Security Establishment, among many others. Over the weekend, Fadden said this about Huawei, on CTV’s Question Period: “I believe they’re acting as an agent of the Chinese state.” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says hey, no worries, we’re monitoring Huawei.

There is a silver lining in this, however. Former Liberal deputy prime minister John Manley is not Canada’s foreign affairs minister.

Manley’s response to the hullabaloo in that Vancouver courtroom last week was to say Canada should have skipped the whole thing by employing some “creative incompetence” in the U.S. extradition request for Meng Wanzhou. “This woman was not residing in Canada, she was simply transferring flights in Canada, and we might have just missed her.”

So much for due process and the rule of law there, Mr. Manley.

MORE BY TERRY GLAVIN:

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Chris Selley: The blinding incoherence of Ottawa’s hotel-quarantine theatre is becoming obvious

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Canada’s new mandatory hotel quarantine system landed over the weekend like a wet, mildewy towel. You have to book by phone. No one answers. There are multiple reports of Canadian citizens being put on hold for three hours, then cut off seemingly automatically.

“Our trained and specialized travel counsellors are providing around-the-clock service to facilitate hotel bookings,” a spokesperson for American Express Global Business Travel told National Post.

The “regular hours of operation” listed are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Ottawa time.

Officials have blamed the call backlog on people calling too far in advance of travel. Would you wait until the recommended 48 hours before your flight? The online advice implies you need “proof of having reserved and pre-paid for (hotel) accommodation” even to get on the plane. In fact, help is available for those disembarking without reservations, a Public Health spokesman said.

That might be useful information to put on the internet. But then, so would a reservation system. All the participating hotels already have one of those.

For now, this all-too-predictable shambles isn’t a problem for the government. On social media, many are revelling in the misery and stress it’s causing, calling it travellers’ just deserts  — never mind if it’s an expat coming home to take a job, or a grieving family returning from a funeral, and not some fully vaccinated cartoon-villain snowbird. Former Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips and Canada’s other gallivanting politicos created a full-on moral panic overnight, and the feds, hitherto scornful of anyone who suggested international travel was worth worrying about, were happy to provide some red meat.

The populist glee will wear off, though, and the blinding incoherence of this policy will eventually dawn on people. There is evidence right here at home that may illustrate the problem.

Since November, travellers arriving at Calgary’s airport on international flights, or overland  into Alberta from Montana, could take a test upon arrival, and another a week later, and upon receipt of two negative results avoid the 14-days quarantine that has otherwise been demanded of “non-essential” humans entering the country for nearly a year. That “pilot project” was unceremoniously cancelled Sunday night.

At first, participants were allowed out and about, with a few restrictions, as soon as the test-on-arrival came back negative — usually within 48 hours. Upon receipt of the second negative result, they were subject to even fewer restrictions for the remainder of the two weeks. Later, travellers from the U.K. and South Africa were excluded; the federal rule requiring a negative test to board a flight to Canada kicked in; and on January 25, the rules changed such that pilot-project participants had to remain in quarantine until the second negative result after a week.

With the U.K. and South Africa excluded and a negative test required to board, the percentage of travellers testing positive on arrival dropped by half, from 1.47 to 0.75 per cent; the number testing positive a week later dropped by one-third, from 0.74 to 0.5 per cent.

It’s a small sample size. It doesn’t prove anything. But it’s intuitive: if you weed out high-risk travellers, and test before departure, you get fewer initial positives. This hints at one approach Canada could have taken but didn’t: focus more stringent measures on certain countries. Do we really need to treat arrivals from famously COVID-free countries like New Zealand (0.7 new daily cases per million population, on a two-week average), or Taiwan (0.03 cases), the same as those disembarking flights from Israel (384), the United Arab Emirates (296) or the United States (202)?

That one in 200 travellers were still testing positive after a week highlights the central flaw in the government’s plan, however. As I noted two weeks ago, research suggests the probability of a “false negative” PCR test only falls below 50 per cent on the fifth day after infection. If your goal is to prevent international travellers from transmitting COVID-19 to anyone in Canada, you can accomplish it vastly more effectively with a five- or seven-day quarantine, followed by another test, than with three days waiting for the result of a test conducted at the airport.

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Carleton Master’s Sociology Student to Receive Royal Ottawa Award for Mental Health Work

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Charlotte Smith, a Carleton University master’s student in Sociology, has faced overwhelming challenges throughout her life: childhood sexual abuse, homelessness, incarceration, drug dependency.

Undaunted, she has channelled these experiences into her academic, advocacy and activist work, developing research projects to address youth homelessness, creating a bursary to help homeless youth attend Carleton, and delivering food, phones and other essential items to homeless and precariously housed youth who are struggling during the pandemic.

For these actions, and for sharing her story of recovery to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness, Smith will be awarded the Personal Leader for Mental Health award at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health’s 2021 Inspiration Awards.

“It can be re-traumatizing, embarrassing and awkward talking so publicly about your mental health and substance use issues, so it’s comforting when someone tells you that you’re not just oversharing, you’re actually making a small difference in other people’s lives,” says Smith, who will be joined on the Inspiration Awards virtual podium by Carleton President Benoit-Antoine Bacon, winner of the Royal’s Transformational Leader award.

“Getting an award like this is fantastic, but there are so many people doing so much important work on mental health and substance use,” says Smith, who last year won a Community Builder Award from the United Way East Ontario for her volunteer efforts in COVID times.

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Shopify Launches Offering of Class A Subordinate Voting Shares

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OTTAWA, Ontario–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Shopify Inc. (NYSE:SHOP)(TSX:SHOP) (“Shopify”) today announced that it has filed a preliminary prospectus supplement (the “Preliminary Supplement”) to its short form base shelf prospectus dated August 6, 2020 (the “Base Shelf Prospectus”). The Preliminary Supplement was filed in connection with a public offering of Shopify’s Class A subordinate voting shares (the “Offering”). The Preliminary Supplement has been filed with the securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces and territories of Canada, except Québec. The Preliminary Supplement has also been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) as part of Shopify’s registration statement on Form F-10 (the “Registration Statement”) under the U.S./Canada Multijurisdictional Disclosure System.

A total of 1,180,000 Class A subordinate voting shares will be offered by Shopify for sale under the Offering, which will be led by Citigroup, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC (the “Underwriters”).Shopify will grant the Underwriters an over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 15% of the Class A subordinate voting shares to be sold pursuant to the Offering (the “Over-Allotment Option”). The Over-Allotment Option will be exercisable for a period of 30 days from the date of the final prospectus supplement relating to the Offering. Allen & Company LLC is acting as special advisor to the Company with respect to the Offering.

Shopify expects to use the net proceeds from the Offering to strengthen its balance sheet, providing flexibility to fund its growth strategies.

Closing of the Offering will be subject to a number of closing conditions, including the listing of the Class A subordinate voting shares to be issued under the Offering on the NYSE and the TSX.

No securities regulatory authority has either approved or disapproved the contents of this news release. This news release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any province, state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such province, state or jurisdiction. The Preliminary Supplement, the Base Shelf Prospectus and the Registration Statement contain important detailed information about the Offering. A copy of the Preliminary Supplement and Base Shelf Prospectus can be found on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and EDGAR at www.sec.gov, and a copy of the Registration Statement can be found on EDGAR at www.sec.gov. Copies of these documents may also be obtained from Citigroup, c/o Broadridge Financial Solutions, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, NY 11717, Telephone: 1-800-831-9146; Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Attention: Prospectus Department, Eleven Madison Avenue, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010, Telephone: 1-800-221-1037 or e-mail: usa.prospectus@credit-suisse.com; Credit Suisse Securities (Canada), Inc., Attention: Olivier Demet, 1 First Canadian Place, Suite 2900, Toronto, Ontario M5X 1C9, Telephone: 416-352-4749 or e-mail: olivier.demet@credit-suisse.com; or Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, Attn: Prospectus Department, 200 West Street, New York, NY 10282, telephone: 866-471-2526, facsimile: 212-902-9316 or email: prospectusny@ny.email.gs.com. Prospective investors should read the Preliminary Supplement, the Base Shelf Prospectus and the Registration Statement before making an investment decision.

About Shopify

Shopify is a leading global commerce company, providing trusted tools to start, grow, market, and manage a retail business of any size. Shopify makes commerce better for everyone with a platform and services that are engineered for reliability, while delivering a better shopping experience for consumers everywhere. Shopify powers over 1.7 million businesses in more than 175 countries and is trusted by brands such as Allbirds, Gymshark, Heinz, Staples Canada and many more.

We were proudly founded in Ottawa, Canada, but prefer to think of the company location as Internet, Everywhere. Shopify is a company of and by the internet, and we have physical outposts around the world. The archaic newswire system doesn’t allow us to acknowledge this fact, so we will henceforth keep this paragraph in our press releases until technology improves.

Forward-looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking information and forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws (“forward-looking statements”) including statements regarding the proposed Offering, the terms of the Offering and the proposed use of proceeds. Words such as “expects”, “continue”, “will”, “plans”, “anticipates” and “intends” or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements.

These forward-looking statements are based on Shopify’s current expectations about future events and financial trends that management believes might affect its financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs, and on certain assumptions and analysis made by Shopify in light of the experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments and other factors management believes are appropriate. These projections, expectations, assumptions and analyses are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, assumptions and other factors that could cause actual results, performance, events and achievements to differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Although Shopify believes that the assumptions underlying these forward-looking statements are reasonable, they may prove to be incorrect, and readers cannot be assured that the Offering discussed above will be completed on the terms described above. Completion of the proposed Offering is subject to numerous factors, many of which are beyond Shopify’s control, including but not limited to, the failure of customary closing conditions and other important factors disclosed previously and from time to time in Shopify’s filings with the SEC and the securities commissions or similar securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces or territories of Canada. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release represent Shopify’s expectations as of the date of this news release, or as of the date they are otherwise stated to be made, and subsequent events may cause these expectations to change. Shopify undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.

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