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B.C. judge orders RCMP to give Meng data on devices seized during arrest

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VANCOUVER — A judge has ordered the RCMP to provide copies of the content on seven electronic devices to an executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies after they were seized at Vancouver’s airport during her arrest.

Justice Heather Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court said in an order issued after a brief hearing Friday that the RCMP must make copies for Meng Wanzhou of data on an iPhone, an iPad, a Macbook Air, a Huawei phone, two SIM cards and a flash drive.

Holmes said a representative of the Mounties must forward the electronics to an examiner of the force’s technical crime unit within three days so content can be extracted onto devices provided by Meng.

She ordered the devices be unsealed under the supervision of one of Meng’s defence lawyers, who Holmes called a “referee” in her written order, adding the lawyer would supervise the examiner’s work and be provided with a copy of the information as well as a list of files for his client.

The examiner must then reseal the seized devices and seal two copies of the data transferred for the RCMP on devices it has provided, one as a backup, Holmes said.

She ordered the RCMP to keep the copies and a list of files in a secure exhibit locker until they are provided to the court, along with the seized electronics.

“The seized devices and the RCMP copy and the RCMP backup shall not otherwise be unsealed or accessed without a further order of this court,” Holmes said in her written order.

The items were confiscated on Dec. 1 when Meng was taken into custody at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges.

Canada announced earlier this month that a hearing against Huawei’s chief financial officer can move forward but Justice Minister David Lametti would ultimately decide whether Meng would be extradited to face charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit both.

She has denied any wrongdoing.

Meng has been free on bail since Dec. 11 and is living in one of her two multimillion-dollar homes in Vancouver while wearing an electronic tracking device and being monitored by a security company.

She and her husband provided $7.5 million in cash for the $10-million bail and the rest was covered by four sureties, including three people who put up their homes as a deposit and a fourth who brought a $50,000 certified cheque to the court.

A lawyer for Meng and the Justice Department did not comment outside court on Friday.

Meng was not in court but her previous appearances have drawn a number of spectators and extra sheriffs have been needed.

Holmes asked the defence and the Crown to come up with suggestions on how to balance the public’s interest in the case and the demands it has put on court staff trying to do their regular duties.

“Her attendance seems to attract an enormous amount of attention both beforehand and the day of her attendance,” she said.

“It does place considerable stress on the court’s resources although people are entitled to be here,” she said. “I imagine it may have been stressful for Ms. Meng herself.”

Last week in New York, lawyers for Huawei entered not guilty pleas on allegations the company violated Iran trade sanctions.

Prosecutors in the United States have accused Huawai of using a Hong Kong front company to trade with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions, alleging Meng, the daughter of the company’s founder, lied to banks about those dealings.

Huawei is also accused in a separate indictment of stealing technology secrets. Meng and the company have also denied any wrongdoing relating to those allegations.

— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.

 

 

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

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Five Things to watch for as PM meets Trump, congressional leaders in Washington

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WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is spending the day in Washington for a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House and face time with congressional leaders from the Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. Here are five things to watch for:

1. Working towards certainty on continental trade uncertainty

Trump foisted an acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement on Canada and Mexico, and after more than year of hard-fought bargaining, everyone survived. The leaders of the three countries signed the deal late last year, but final legal ratification remains a significant hurdle — especially in the U.S. Trump has insulted House Leader Nancy Pelosi, who essentially holds the cards on ratification. But Trump’s trade czar Robert Lighthizer has been repeatedly complimentary of her efforts to find solutions. Trudeau will likely seek to persuade Pelosi that if the deal is good enough for Liberals in Canada, perhaps the Democrats in the U.S. can swallow it too. We likely won’t know for weeks how successful Trudeau will be. But one test will be whether the matter moves through Congress before the end of July, when it adjourns for the summer.

2. Helping two Canadians in big trouble in China

Two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, have been languishing behind bars in China for more than six months. Their arrest is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on an American extradition warrant. Chinese leaders have snubbed Trudeau and his cabinet ministers, but Trump has been playing hardball with the People’s Republic in an escalating trade war that is rocking the global economy. During a visit to Ottawa last month, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said Trump will push Chinese President Xi Jinping for their release at the G20 leaders’ summit in Japan next week. Will Trump tip his hand about doing Trudeau a favour?

3. Winning in the eyes of Canadians

Managing relations with the United States, Canada’s largest trading partner, neighbour, close friend and ally is arguably one of the most important jobs of a prime minister. Trudeau has had a rough time with Trump, to put it mildly. Trump insulted him over Twitter after leaving the G7 in Quebec last year, and he imposed punishing steel and aluminum tariffs on Canadian imports as a bargaining chip in the NAFTA talks. All of that would seem to be history. The subtexts, the body language the words, each interaction between the two men will be under scrutiny when they shake hands and trade remarks in the Oval Office. What matters for Trudeau — and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer — is how Canadians interpret that when they go to the polls in October.

4. Huawei, or not Huawei

The Trump administration is clear: the Chinese telecom giant is a national security threat and won’t be supplying any of the equipment for America’s next generation 5G network. The Trump administration doesn’t want Canada or its allies using Huawei either. The Trudeau government is taking its time deciding. Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale have repeatedly said they will make an evidence-based decision on the advice of their national security experts. That likely won’t come before the October election, however. Trump will push the issue with Trudeau when they talk in private. In public, expect nothing to change.

5. That’s the way the basketball bounces

In addition to trying to work to salvage the North American economy, protect jobs and bring certainty back to big business planning, Trudeau will have the opportunity to gloat with Pelosi for winning his bet on the NBA Finals that saw the Toronto Raptors defeat her home-state Golden State Warriors. Will Trudeau pop the cork on the nice bottle of California wine he is likely to receive? More importantly, perhaps, will Trump give any hint that he plans to invite the champions to the White House, in keeping with what is now an often-controversial tradition?

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

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Trade, China sure to surface as Trudeau meets Trump, congressional leaders

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WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau is headed back to the White House today in what could prove to be a pivotal visit to the U.S. capital not only for North American trade and Canada’s strained relationship with China, but for the campaign-bound prime minister himself.

An earnest end to the tensions between Trudeau and President Donald Trump, which erupted into full view following last year’s G7 summit in Quebec, could prove useful to his governing Liberals when Canadians head to the polls this fall.

The Oval Office meeting, Trudeau’s third since Trump was elected in 2016, is aimed primarily at pushing the new North American trade deal over the finish line in both countries.

But Trudeau will also be looking to the U.S. president to speak out against the detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been languishing behind bars in China since shortly after Canada arrested high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou late last year at the behest of U.S. authorities. 

Canada has been caught in the crossfire after detaining Meng last December in Vancouver, where she awaits extradition south of the border to face allegations of fraud in violating Iran sanctions.

Trudeau is hoping Trump will go to bat for Kovrig and Spavor when he meets China’s President Xi Jinping at next week’s G20 leaders’ summit in Japan.

Vice-President Mike Pence has promised Trump would do just that, but Trudeau will find out today whether the mercurial president plans to follow through.

And then there’s the new NAFTA.

Trump needs to persuade his Democratic opponents in the House of Representatives — in particular Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with whom Trudeau is scheduled to meet later in the day — to allow the actual start of the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Lawmakers in Mexico voted Wednesday in a landslide to ratify the deal.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called that “a crucial step forward” towards finalizing the deal.

“The USMCA is the strongest and most advanced trade agreement ever negotiated. It is good for the United States, Mexico, and Canada in a way that truly benefits our workers, farmers, and businesses,” he said in a statement.

Pelosi and her fellow Democrats want stronger enforcement mechanisms for the deal’s new labour and environmental provisions — and Trudeau’s visit might be just the thing needed to pry loose her support.

Canada, meanwhile, has been building strong support for the new NAFTA and open borders within the U.S. and it has many American business allies who remain active.

Lighthizer told the powerful House ways and means committee Wednesday that he’s willing to co-operate with Democrats to move forward on the new trade bill.

“Getting this done sooner rather than later is in everybody’s interest,” he said. “It saves jobs, it helps the economy, it gets certainty in place.”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

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