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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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    New psychiatric assessment ordered for alleged Fredericton shooter

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  • FREDERICTON — A Fredericton man accused of murdering four people in an August shooting spree has been ordered to undergo a 60-day psychiatric assessment.

    It will determine if Matthew Raymond can be found criminally responsible for the crimes he has been accused of.

    He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Fredericton police constables Sara Burns and Robb Costello, and civilians Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright.

    Raymond was previously found fit to stand trial after a shorter assessment. Details of the arguments seeking the assessments are under a publication ban

    Defence lawyer Alison Menard said Tuesday the longer assessment is to assess the mental state of an accused at the time of an alleged offence.

    “Did they suffer from a mental disorder which would exempt them from responsibility?” she said outside court.

    “In certain circumstances, people who suffer from a mental disorder can be found not criminally responsible because they are lacking the intent element of the offence because of the mental disorder.”

    The case returns to court on Feb. 8, 2019.

    Raymond is alleged to have fired from his apartment window with a long gun, killing the two civilians as they loaded a car for a trip on Aug. 10, and the two police officers as they responded to the scene.

    Raymond has previously told a judge there is evidence that would allow him to be “exonerated” immediately because of temporary insanity.

    As he has in previous court appearances, Raymond stood in court Tuesday, and complained to the judge about the jail-issued orange jumpsuit and orange sweatshirt he was wearing.

    “I should be in casual clothes. I’m not supposed to be in orange at all,” he said.

    Raymond was also upset over documents he took from a file folder and waved in the air.

    “It concerns these documents I should not have in my possession. There are photographs and evidence. Only the court should have these documents,” he said.

    The documents concerning the investigation are under a publication ban, but Raymond said guards where he’s being held are able to see them.

    He said a guard came into his cell in the middle of the night and was looking at the documents.

    “There’s no (expletive) way someone should be in my (expletive) cell in the middle of the night looking at my (expletive),” he said.

    Former friends and acquaintances of Raymond have offered varying memories of the accused murderer, ranging from a boy who retreated into video games, a pleasant supermarket co-worker and an increasingly isolated loner in recent years.

    Some business owners have described Raymond, who is in his late 40s, as becoming reclusive and occasionally unpleasant in the year before the alleged shootings.

    Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press




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    Longtime New Democrat Robinson considers political return in Burnaby riding

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  • OTTAWA — Former New Democrat stalwart Svend Robinson says he is strongly considering a return to federal politics, noting his former party is facing challenging times.

    Robinson, 66, represented the Vancouver-area riding of Burnaby for 25 years.

    He left politics in 2004 after he admitted stealing a diamond ring from an auction, saying he was under too much strain at the time.

    Since then, he has spent time in Switzerland working with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. After retiring last year, Robinson and his partner moved to Cyprus.

    If he decides to run, Robinson said he would seek election in Burnaby North—Seymour and hopefully help out the NDP candidate in the next riding — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is expected to face a byelection in Burnaby South in February. 

    In the 2015 federal election, the NDP won Burnaby South by just over 500 votes.

    “I will do everything I can to support Jagmeet and support him in his campaign for election in Burnaby South. Hopefully if I’m a candidate in a neighbouring riding, that will be of some assistance,” Robinson said on the phone from Cyprus.

    Despite insisting he hasn’t made up his mind, Robinson said he spent a month door-knocking in the riding this fall and sent a letter to residents saying he is seriously considering a run. His letter closed by pointing out a nomination meeting will take place early in the new year. “And then we will have to work very hard together over the months leading up to the election in October of next year to take back the riding. Let’s do this!”

    Speaking from Cyprus, Robinson said he thinks he could add some veteran know-how to the federal NDP given the number of experienced caucus members not standing for re-election next year.

    Liberal Terry Beech is running again in Burnaby North—Seymour, which is set to become a battleground riding next year over Liberal pledges to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline. The pipeline ends in the riding.

    “I think the next election is going to be a make or break election for the future of the climate and if I run, those issues will be front and centre,” Robinson said.

    Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press



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    december, 2018

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