Day: May 31, 2019

China Warns Canada About ‘Consequences’ For Helping U.S. In Huawei Case

China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, seen here in Beijing on Jan. 29, 2019, is urging the Canadian government to

BEIJING — China warned Canada on Friday that it needs to be aware of the consequences of aiding the U.S. in a case involving the Chinese tech giant Huawei that is believed to have sparked the detention of two Canadians in China.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang’s comments Friday came after U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Both were arrested on Dec. 10, 2018, after Canada detained a Huawei executive wanted by the U.S. on fraud charges. While China has denied they were taken in retaliation, it has repeatedly implied that there is a strong connection between the cases. 

We hope that the Canadian side can have a clear understanding of the consequences of endangering itself for the gains of the U.S.Geng Shuang, China’s foreign ministry spokesman

Kovrig, a former diplomat and Asia expert at the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, a businessman, have been accused of colluding to steal state secrets. Canada has repeatedly urged their immediate release, calling their detention “arbitrary.” Neither has been permitted access to lawyers or family members.

“We hope that the Canadian side can have a clear understanding of the consequences of endangering itself for the gains of the U.S. and take immediate actions to correct its mistakes so as to spare itself the suffering from growing damage,” Geng said at a daily news briefing.

Watch: Huawei has been blacklisted by the U.S. Story continues below.


Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s founder, is accused of lying to banks about the company’s dealings with Iran in violation of U.S. trade sanctions. Her attorney has argued that comments by U.S. President Donald Trump suggest the case against her is politically motivated.

Washington has pressured other countries to limit use of Huawei’s technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.

China and the U.S. are currently embroiled in a trade dispute that has beleaguered global financial markets.

Another Canadian held in China, Robert Schellenberg, was re-sentenced to death in a drug case following Meng’s detention. His case is currently under appeal.

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By The Wall of Law May 31, 2019 Off

Mike Pence’s fence-mending visit to Canada

Welcome to a sneak peek of the Maclean’s Politics Insider newsletter. Sign-up at the bottom of the page to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Were his fingers crossed? Kudos to Vice President Mike Pence for keeping a straight face as he evoked his  boss’s deep affection for Canada on Thursday: “I’m honoured to be here today on behalf of a friend of yours and a great friend of the Canadian people, President Donald Trump.”

Pence, of course, was here to talk trade-deal ratification, Canada and America’s shared challenges with China, and to listen as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern at recent U.S. state laws banning abortions.

Deal with it: On the trade front Pence credited Trudeau for “driving a hard bargain.” Having the U.S. VP praise the Trudeau government’s negotiating skills should help the Liberals, who face constant accusations from the opposition that they caved to Trump. (CBC News)

(On the other hand, isn’t that the kind of thing a victor might say so the other side can tell itself it didn’t loose.)

Having had his back scratched by Pence, it was Trudeau’s turn. He urged the Democrat-held Congress to support Trump and ratify the deal because it contains a lot of things Democrats should like: “They are significant things that we look to the U.S. Democrats to understand are significant improvements and are issues that, like Canadian Liberals, they care deeply about. So we are confident that the work being done on ratification is possible because we made sure that, from multiple angles, this was a better deal for Americans, for Canadians and for Mexicans.” (CBC News)

We may see how strongly Trudeau’s words resonate with Democrats sooner rather than later. The Trump administration has sent a letter to Congressional leaders that included a draft of an administrative action that would send the deal to Congress to be ratified within 30 days. (CNBC)

Aaaaaaand scratch that: Last night Trump effectively ensured USMCA won’t be ratified by Mexico any time soon by promising to slap a five per cent tariff on all Mexican imports starting on June 10 to force that country to crack down on migrants crossing the U.S. border. (CTV News)   

Common ground: Pence also did Trudeau another solid, confirming publicly that the U.S. will link its trade talks with Beijing to the release of  two Canadians detained by China in anger over Canada’s arrest of a Huawei executive on a U.S. warrant. As John Geddes writes at Maclean’s, securing their release has become the most pressing diplomatic preoccupation of the Liberal government, yet things haven’t been going Canada’s way:

Enter Mike Pence. Asked about the detained Canadians by reporters today, Pence said he and Trudeau spoke “extensively” on the file. Then he volunteered a commitment about the Group of 20 leaders’ summit coming up in late June in Osaka, Japan: “Let me say that President Trump will be travelling, along with the Prime Minister, to the G20 in the weeks ahead. We anticipate he will be meeting with President Xi there. We are in the midst of significant discussions over our trading relationship, but I can assure you in that context and going forward, we’re going to continue to urge China to release the Canadian citizens, even while we deal with the larger economic and structural issues between the United States and China.” (Maclean’s)

Miles apart: But the A-word hung over much of the day. Trudeau had said he would raise concerns with Pence about the U.S. backsliding on abortion rights, and he did. But while Pence hailed the close relations between the two countries for allowing a “candid” discussion, Pence didn’t shy away from his views: “But let me be clear, I’m very proud to be part of a pro-life administration and our administration has taken steps to stand for the sanctity of life at home and abroad.”

Trudeau’s endless talk about abortion should be a clear indicator to everyone that the Liberals are worried about the upcoming election, writes Andrew MacDougall:

The Liberal play on abortion is 100 per cent domestic. Slapping at the vice-president should also please the clap-happy backbench. But if you had told the Liberals at Christmas that cheering for abortion is how they’d be preparing for the upcoming federal election they would probably have guessed that something had gone wrong.

Badly wrong. (Maclean’s)

Let me get that for you: How do you turn $24,000 into nearly $100,000 in just four months? Get a sole-source contract to hold doors open for senators. In February Ottawa security firm Arlington Group Inc. was granted a contract to provide “ushers” to the Senate of Canada Building, the Upper Chamber’s temporary digs, because of a shortage of automatic door openers. After the original contract ballooned in size to $95,000 administrators suspended the use of security guard-ushers while the contact is reviewed. (CBC News)

Scoop: The federal government is making a habit of tipping off J.D. Irving whenever pesky reporters come poking their noses around. When the Globe and Mail reached out to Economic Development to ask if the company had counted any of its investment in an Alberta french fry plant against its re-investment obligation under a naval shipbuilding contract, bureaucrats almost immediately got on the horn to J.D. Irving, which dispatched its lawyers and threatened legal action. Two months ago the same thing happened when a Postmedia reporter asked two other departments about  the company—and that was the third time Ottawa tipped off the company about that reporter’s inquiries. (Globe and Mail)

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By The Wall of Law May 31, 2019 Off

The ‘Very Alarming’ Reason Life Expectancy In Canada Has Stopped Growing

A police officer displays bags containing fentanyl as Ontario Provincial Police host a news conference in Vaughan, Ont. on Feb. 23, 2017.

OTTAWA — Life expectancy in Canada has stopped increasing for the first time in more than 40 years, and Statistics Canada says the opioid crisis is largely to blame.

Statistics Canada released data Thursday noting that year-over-year increases ended between 2016 and 2017, stalling life expectancy at birth for women to 84 years and 79.9 for men.

After reviewing death by age and cause, the statistics agency made a firm conclusion: “the main factor that was responsible for the recent change in life expectancy in Canada, particularly in British Columbia: accidental drug overdoses among young adult men.”

Watch: B.C. coroner says 1,489 illicit overdose deaths in 2018


More than 10,300 Canadians have died from apparent opioid-related overdoses since 2016, according to Health Canada. Nearly 4,000 of those deaths were in B.C.

It was around that time, in spring 2016, when the province declared a state of emergency in response to the skyrocketing number of overdose deaths related to the use of fentanyl. For comparison, the number of accidental overdose deaths was 211 in 2010. By the end of 2017, that figure had jumped to approximately 1,450 deaths.

Fentanyl is an illicit synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor called the StatCan data “very alarming.” She told HuffPost Canada that the opioid crisis “continues to be a priority file, personally, and also for my department and the government.”

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor speaks in the House of Commons during question period on Dec. 11, 2018.

But average life expectancy isn’t the same across Canada. It actually increased in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatechwan between 2016 and 2017. Ontario saw no change.

In B.C., however, the average life expectancy at birth fell for the second year in a row. The number of drug overdose deaths among men in that province where enough to offset life expectancy gains made in other areas.

“Life expectancy for women in Canada was also lowered by accidental drug poisonings, but generally at a slower pace than for men,” according to StatCan.

B.C.’s health officer has called on the provincial government to introduce legislation to decriminalize illicit drugs. In a 50-page report released last month, Dr. Bonnie Henry said it would allow illicit drug users to get help without fear of criminal arrest.

“This type of approach would provide pathways for police to link people to health and social services, and would support the use of administrative penalties rather than criminal charges for simple possession,” Henry’s report reads. “The province cannot wait for action at the federal level.”

The province rejected the recommendation.

The federal health minister did not give a clear answer when asked if she thinks decriminalizing illicit drugs would be an effective way to mitigate the impact of the opioid crisis. Liberal ministers have said there are no plans to do so, despite overwhelming support from the party’s grassroots to move in that direction.

“What we’ve heard is that the issue of drugs that are unsafe supply is the issue,” Petitpas Taylor told HuffPost. “So what we really need to focus on right now is safe supply of drugs.”

The federal government committed $30.5 million in its 2019 budget to fund measures to fill gaps in harm reduction and treatment.

Petitpas Taylor said the money will partly go to safe consumption sites stocked with drug-checking devices that help detect toxic levels of fentanyl in drugs bought on the street.

Safe consumption sites are effective and save lives, she said.

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By The Wall of Law May 31, 2019 Off