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Canadian businesses face retaliatory risk after Huawei arrest: analysts

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  • OTTAWA — Canada’s arrest of a Chinese telecommunications executive in Vancouver at the request of the United States sparked widespread surprise, but in security and diplomatic circles it was pure deja vu.

    Canada did a similar favour for the Americans in July 2014 when it arrested a Chinese businessman in British Columbia for hacking the data bases of U.S. defence contractors to steal military secrets.

    In that case, Su Bin — a Chinese national who had permanent residency in Canada — was eventually extradited to the U.S. where he pleaded guilty in 2016 to a criminal conspiracy, years in the making, to steal U.S. military secrets. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison.

    But it’s what happened a month after Su’s initial arrest that now has some spooked: Canadians Julia and Kevin Garratt, who lived three decades in China operating a coffee shop and doing Christian aid work, were arrested and accused of spying and stealing military secrets.

    Now, there are fears of what China may do next.

    The Garratts have since been released after a two-year ordeal, but in light of last Saturday’s arrest of Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, concern is rising that other Canadians in China are at risk of being arrested in retaliation.

    “China will be furious and look for means of punishing us, in part as an example for others,” David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Thursday.

    “That could include tit-for-tat moves against Canadians, a motive that many, myself included, suspect to have been at the bottom of the 2014 arrest and imprisonment of Canadians Julia and Kevin Garratt.”

    That view is shared by other international security analysts after Canada’s Justice Department said the U.S. is seeking Meng’s extradition. Canada is not providing further details about the case because of a court-ordered publication ban on her pending bail hearing, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday he’s not commenting on an independent legal process.

    “The Chinese are likely to play tit-for-tat on this one and we should be ready for it,” said Fen Hampson, the director of the global security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation based in southern Ontario.

    Stephanie Carvin, a former Canadian security analyst who teaches at Carleton University, said on Twitter: “In light of the #Huawei arrest, a reminder that China takes innocent Canadians hostage on a whim for its own purposes. Would not want to be a Canadian business leader in China right now.”

    Chinese foreign-ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Thursday that his government wants Canadian officials to reveal their reasoning. He said Meng’s legal rights must be ensured, adding that neither Canadian nor American officials had so far responded to China’s concerns.

    China’s embassy in Ottawa has also branded Meng’s arrest as a serious violation of human rights.

    But Trudeau said Thursday he hasn’t talked to any international counterparts about the affair, and he made clear he’s staying out of it. He said his office got “a few days’ notice that this was in the works” but he emphasized the actions of law enforcement officials are independent from politics.

    “We are a country of an independent judiciary, and the appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference.”

    Some say Canada’s firm stand against China could have an economic cost as it tries to deepen trade ties. Carvin speculated on Twitter that this could affect the sale of Canadian lobsters, among other things.

    Others say Canada needs to stand firm in the face of Chinese pressure. They say Beijing is trying to press Canada where it might sense vulnerability — Ottawa’s own strained relations with the Trump administration in Washington over tariffs and trade.

    “It’s the bully next door Trudeau and Canadians have the most to worry about, and if the choice is between Beijing or Washington, Washington will always trump Beijing,” said Hampson.

    Mulroney said the Meng case has brought Canada and China to an inevitable reckoning in their relationship.

    “China has entertained hopes that they could split us away from the U.S. in the Trump era,” he said.

    “This reminds the Chinese, and ourselves, that we are part of an international order backed by the U.S.”

    Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press




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    Funeral today for seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

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  • HALIFAX — Mourners will descend upon a large Halifax hall today for the funeral of seven children who died in a fast-moving house fire.

    The service for the Barho children will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Cunard Centre on the city’s waterfront.

    Imam Abdallah Yousri says funeral proceedings will follow in the Islamic traditions, but is open to people of all faiths and members of the public.

    He says he hopes that by opening the ceremony up to all who wish to attend, the children’s mother — Syrian refugee Kawthar Barho — will see the widespread support and sympathy from the community.

    Yousri says the traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members, including Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, who is trying to help some of the mother’s overseas relatives come to Canada.

    Following the funeral service, there will be a burial at a Muslim cemetery in Hammonds Plains.

    “(Kawthar Barho) doesn’t have family over here in Canada. She does not have friends as well here in Halifax because she moved here five months ago,” said Yousri on Friday.

    “That’s why we are trying to invite her to come see the support and let everybody gather.”

    Shuttles will be organized to and from the Cunard Centre to accommodate those who wish to attend, and ample parking is available at the centre.

    The children’s father — Ebraheim Barho — remained in hospital Friday recovering from extensive burns. He was in critical, but stable condition.

    Early Tuesday, the Quartz Drive house fire killed all of the Barho children: Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, who was born in Canada on Nov. 9.

    The cause of the fire remains unclear.

    The scale of the tragedy for the young family who arrived in Nova Scotia in September 2017 as refugees has struck a chord with Canadians.

    A GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $523,846 by late Friday afternoon, with a $1-million goal.

    The Barho family lived in Elmsdale, a 30-minute drive north of Halifax, when they first arrived in Nova Scotia and were embraced by residents there.

    They had moved to the Halifax suburb of Spryfield to take advantage of language training and other immigrant services, and had planned to return to Elmsdale next month.

    The family was among 1,795 Syrian refugees who have come to Nova Scotia in recent years. The Trudeau government granted asylum to 40,000 Syrian refugees in 2015-16.

    A brutal civil war has raged across Syria since 2011, claiming more than 400,000 lives.

    The Canadian Press




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    Funeral today for seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

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  • HALIFAX — Mourners will descend upon a large Halifax hall today for the funeral of seven children who died in a fast-moving house fire.

    The service for the Barho children will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Cunard Centre on the city’s waterfront.

    Imam Abdallah Yousri says funeral proceedings will follow in the Islamic traditions, but is open to people of all faiths and members of the public.

    He says he hopes that by opening the ceremony up to all who wish to attend, the children’s mother — Syrian refugee Kawthar Barho — will see the widespread support and sympathy from the community.

    Yousri says the traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members, including Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, who is trying to help some of the mother’s overseas relatives come to Canada.

    Following the funeral service, there will be a burial at a Muslim cemetery in Hammonds Plains.

    “(Kawthar Barho) doesn’t have family over here in Canada. She does not have friends as well here in Halifax because she moved here five months ago,” said Yousri on Friday.

    “That’s why we are trying to invite her to come see the support and let everybody gather.”

    Shuttles will be organized to and from the Cunard Centre to accommodate those who wish to attend, and ample parking is available at the centre.

    The children’s father — Ebraheim Barho — remained in hospital Friday recovering from extensive burns. He was in critical, but stable condition.

    Early Tuesday, the Quartz Drive house fire killed all of the Barho children: Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, who was born in Canada on Nov. 9.

    The cause of the fire remains unclear.

    The scale of the tragedy for the young family who arrived in Nova Scotia in September 2017 as refugees has struck a chord with Canadians.

    A GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $523,846 by late Friday afternoon, with a $1-million goal.

    The Barho family lived in Elmsdale, a 30-minute drive north of Halifax, when they first arrived in Nova Scotia and were embraced by residents there.

    They had moved to the Halifax suburb of Spryfield to take advantage of language training and other immigrant services, and had planned to return to Elmsdale next month.

    The family was among 1,795 Syrian refugees who have come to Nova Scotia in recent years. The Trudeau government granted asylum to 40,000 Syrian refugees in 2015-16.

    A brutal civil war has raged across Syria since 2011, claiming more than 400,000 lives.

    The Canadian Press




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