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13 Canadians detained in China since arrest of Huawei executive in Vancouver, officials reveal

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VANCOUVER—Thirteen Canadians have been detained in China since tech executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1, according to Global Affairs Canada.

Three of those thirteen Canadians — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig, entrepreneur Michael Spavor and teacher Sarah McIver — were previously known to the public.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou talks with a member of her private security detail in Vancouver in December. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver, at the request of authorities in the United States.
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou talks with a member of her private security detail in Vancouver in December. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver, at the request of authorities in the United States.  (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press File)

Eight of those people, including McIver, have been returned to Canada since their arrests, said Global Affairs spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé in a statement. Of the eight Canadians that have been returned, only McIver was named.

Meng, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, was released on $10-million bail to her family’s Vancouver home on Dec. 11 to await proceedings for extradition to the United States.

But Kovrig, Spavor and three others not named in Bérubé’s statement still remain in custody at undisclosed locations in China. Kovrig is being kept in a continuously lit room and is being questioned several times daily by Chinese authorities, according to International Crisis Group (ICG), Kovrig’s former employer.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in December both Kovrig and Spavor are “suspected of engaging in activities endangering national security,” though neither have been formally charged, precluding them from being able to mount any kind of legal defence.

Read more:

China’s detention of Canadians part of bid to challenge Western democratic norms, experts say

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China levels national security accusations against two detained Canadians

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called their detentions “arbitrary” in a statement submitted Thursday to the Star.

China’s top prosecutor Zhang Jun said in a statement on Thursday that there is “no doubt” Kovrig and Spavor broke China’s laws, adding that the two Canadians are still under investigation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said “it is not convenient to disclose more information now.”

Experts have voiced concerns about the likelihood of due process being granted to Kovrig and Spavor, arguing that Beijing courts are little more than an instrument of the state.

Canadians Michael Kovrig (left), and ex-diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been detained in China since early December in a move some experts characterize as “politically motivated,” extrajudiciary detentions, designed to pressure Canada into returning high profile Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou to China.
Canadians Michael Kovrig (left), and ex-diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been detained in China since early December in a move some experts characterize as “politically motivated,” extrajudiciary detentions, designed to pressure Canada into returning high profile Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou to China.  (The Associated Press)

Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China, believes the primary motivation behind the men’s detentions is political. Saint-Jacques served as ambassador between 2012 and 2016, when Kovrig also worked for the embassy.

“I think the expectation of the Chinese side is to continue to put pressure on us so at some point we’ll just say … ‘Ms. Meng will be allowed to go back to China,’” he said in a December interview.

“I’m pretty sure if this were to happen, the two Michaels would be deported shortly afterwards.”

Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans said Tuesday he was “totally confident” Kovrig’s detention was motivated purely by politics. Neither Kovrig nor ICG pose any kind of threat to China’s national security, he said. Evans had served as chief executive of the ICG.

Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University College of Asia and the Pacific, called ICG “an impartial international organization that has impeccable credentials for being even-handed in its treatment of nations and their interests.”

“The International Crisis Group is not in any way an anti-China or pro-U.S. organization,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s internationally … respected. In other words, you would think it’s in China’s interests to be reasonable in its treatment of that organization and its staff.”

Eight Canadians, including teacher Sarah McIver, have been returned to Canada since their arrests, said Global Affairs spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé in a statement.
Eight Canadians, including teacher Sarah McIver, have been returned to Canada since their arrests, said Global Affairs spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé in a statement.  (Facebook)

And Robert Malley, ICG’s president and a former member of the U.S. National Security Council under president Barack Obama, said Thursday that China’s actions advance no “purpose other than the purpose of further raising doubts about China’s reliability as a country that’s going to follow the rule of law.”

Former ambassador Saint-Jacques argued that if the two Canadians are formally charged, they will be as good as guilty.

“In the Chinese system, they can detain you and go through this interrogation phase, and it’s at the end of that that they decide whether they will formally arrest you and formally charge you,” he said. “And if they do that, 99.9 per cent of the time you’re found guilty.”

Beijing has continued to emphasize the legitimacy of its legal process.

“China’s competent authorities took compulsory measures in accordance with the law against the Canadian citizens … because they engaged in activities undermining China’s national security,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in a Dec. 24 press briefing, urging international authorities to respect China’s “judicial sovereignty.”

“The relevant departments in China have ensured (the detainees’) legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law and offered necessary assistance to the Canadian side to fulfill their consular duties.”

Charles Burton, associate professor of political science at Brock University, suggested the messaging may be partly intended to assuage local anxieties around the independence of the Chinese judiciary.

“China’s domestic audience … have a lot of reservations about the nature of Chinese state power and the lack of justice in the courts, because the courts are under the direction … of the Chinese Communist Party,” Burton said.

The Chinese legal system, he added, provides “no entitlement to human rights or fair due process.”

The idea of a truly independent judiciary is one Chinese authorities do not wish to promote in China, he said, which is reflected in Beijing’s repeated characterizations of the Canadian legal process as illegal, illegitimate and unreasonable.

And last week, the Chinese government issued decisions of the Politburo Standing Committee calling for an enhanced role of the party in the judicial process, which Burton said underscores how the Chinese courts are an organ of state power.

“The Chinese Communist Party enforces its political decisions through the use of administrative law,” he said.

Canadian senators who plan to travel to China this weekend told reporters they will use the trip to advocate for the release of the two men.

With files from Alex Ballingall and The Canadian Press

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

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Ecology

Yukon and Northern BC First Nations tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science

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YUKON, June 18, 2021 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is working together in partnership with Indigenous and Northern communities in finding solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North.

Today, Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Larry Bagnell, highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Yukon and Northern British Columbia adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary met virtually with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) to learn about their community-led climate change monitoring program. C/TFN has partnered with Tsay Keh Dene Nation (TKDN) and Chu Cho Environmental of Prince George, British Columbia, to build a community-led monitoring project that examines environmental data and Indigenous knowledge to create a holistic picture of how the climate is changing across C/TFN and TKDN traditional territories. The project combines tracking of current and historical climate trends with knowledge shared by Elders while also providing opportunities for youth mentorship and climate change awareness.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) is also leading a unique project to assess the impacts of climate change within their traditional territory. Climate change is causing many of the culturally significant ice patches to melt, exposing organic artifacts to oxygen and leading to rapid deterioration. The TRTFN ice patch mapping project will involve performing archaeological assessments to prevent the degradation of artifacts. Research will be guided by traditional knowledge, Elders and oral histories, when available, and heavily involve community, Elders, youth and Knowledge Keepers.

The Pelly Crossing Selkirk Development Corporation is leading the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project through the installation of a Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) system. The initiative includes a feasibility study leading up to the construction of a renewable energy facility, including wind, solar and battery energy storage. Expanding clean energy within the region will have direct benefits for communities, including reduced reliance on diesel, job creation and revenue generation for Selkirk First Nation. 

These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Yukon and Northern British Columbia. They also build community clean energy capacity and help to avoid the impacts of climate change.

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Ecology

Atlantic Provinces Ready For Aquaculture Growth

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Aquaculture is an important economic driver for rural, coastal and Indigenous communities, and Atlantic Canada is well positioned to increase aquaculture production as global demand for sustainably sourced seafood grows.

That is why the ministers responsible for aquaculture in the Atlantic provinces have agreed to the ongoing development and management of their industries based on common principles. A new memorandum of understanding has been signed by the four ministers, which extends the previous agreement signed in 2008.

“In a time when food security is especially important, it is good to see our aquaculture industry has grown steadily and is poised for continued growth in 2021 based on environmentally responsible, science-based policies and practices,” said Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Nova Scotia. “Our Atlantic partnership continues to help the industry grow sustainably.”

Cooperation between the provinces and the aquaculture industry has led to improvements in pest management, environmentally sustainable aquaculture methods, aquatic animal health and policies to support the shared use of marine and freshwater resources. It also aims to align regulation and policy between the provinces to make the regulatory requirements easier to understand by industry and the public.

Each province has a comprehensive and robust legislative and regulatory framework to ensure environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and public accountability. The provinces update their legislation and regulations regularly. Nova Scotia revamped its regulatory framework in 2015; New Brunswick received Royal Assent for a new Aquaculture Act in 2019 and is working on the supporting regulations; Newfoundland and Labrador completely revised its aquaculture policy in 2019; and Prince Edward Island has recently drafted a new Aquaculture Act.

The ministers have agreed to continue to use science-based evidence for management decisions, thereby increasing public and investor confidence in the Atlantic Canadian aquaculture industry.

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Ecology

COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.

On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.

The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:

  1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste

2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community

3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back

4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage

5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities  

In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.

  This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.

  This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.

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