Day: February 6, 2020

Man accused of abducting toddler in 1987 returns to Canada to face charge

A man accused of kidnapping his toddler son in Canada and hiding him in the United states for three decades was due to face a charge in a Canadian courtroom for the first time on Thursday, well over a year after he was arrested in the case.

Allan Mann Jr. has been charged with abduction for allegedly kidnapping his son Jermaine in 1987, Toronto police said.

He was extradited to Canada after finishing an 18-month stint in a U.S. prison for illegally obtaining government benefits while eluding authorities.

“They lived, basically, a life of lies as to who they were and what they did, unbeknownst to Jermaine,” Toronto police Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks said upon Mann’s October 2018 arrest. “He was under the impression that his mother had died shortly after birth.”

Toronto police allege Mann kidnapped his son during a court-ordered visitation in 1987 before fleeing to the U.S. and obtaining fake identities for them both.

Mann’s American lawyer, David Ring, said his client fled Canada with his son because he worried about the boy’s safety during a bitter custody dispute with his wife, who planned to take the child to Jamaica.

U.S. authorities said Mann acquired counterfeit birth certificates for him and his son, which were later used to obtain a Social Security number.

American prosecutors said Mann used the alias Hailee DeSouza to collect more than US$125,000 in housing benefits and more than US$55,000 in Medicaid assistance. He pleaded guilty last year to one count of making a false statement.

U.S. marshals and Toronto police launched a new effort to find Mann in 2016 while meeting at a law enforcement conference on capturing fugitives.

The marshals interviewed several of Mann’s friends and family members, including a relative who pointed authorities to Connecticut and Mann’s alleged alias. He was ultimately arrested in Vernon, Conn.

Mann’s son is now in his 30s and reunited with his mother after years of believing she had died shortly after his birth.

Lyneth Mann-Lewis of Brampton, Ont., spoke publicly upon their reunion, saying she hoped her story-book ending offered hope to others whose children were taken from them.

“I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering, one should never give up,” she said at the time. “Be patient, be strong, and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2020.

— with files from The Associated Press.

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By The Wall of Law February 6, 2020 Off

Man accused of abducting toddler in 1987 returns to Canada to face charge

A man accused of kidnapping his toddler son in Canada and hiding him in the United states for three decades was due to face a charge in a Canadian courtroom for the first time on Thursday, well over a year after he was arrested in the case.

Allan Mann Jr. has been charged with abduction for allegedly kidnapping his son Jermaine in 1987, Toronto police said.

He was extradited to Canada after finishing an 18-month stint in a U.S. prison for illegally obtaining government benefits while eluding authorities.

“They lived, basically, a life of lies as to who they were and what they did, unbeknownst to Jermaine,” Toronto police Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks said upon Mann’s October 2018 arrest. “He was under the impression that his mother had died shortly after birth.”

Toronto police allege Mann kidnapped his son during a court-ordered visitation in 1987 before fleeing to the U.S. and obtaining fake identities for them both.

Mann’s American lawyer, David Ring, said his client fled Canada with his son because he worried about the boy’s safety during a bitter custody dispute with his wife, who planned to take the child to Jamaica.

U.S. authorities said Mann acquired counterfeit birth certificates for him and his son, which were later used to obtain a Social Security number.

American prosecutors said Mann used the alias Hailee DeSouza to collect more than US$125,000 in housing benefits and more than US$55,000 in Medicaid assistance. He pleaded guilty last year to one count of making a false statement.

U.S. marshals and Toronto police launched a new effort to find Mann in 2016 while meeting at a law enforcement conference on capturing fugitives.

The marshals interviewed several of Mann’s friends and family members, including a relative who pointed authorities to Connecticut and Mann’s alleged alias. He was ultimately arrested in Vernon, Conn.

Mann’s son is now in his 30s and reunited with his mother after years of believing she had died shortly after his birth.

Lyneth Mann-Lewis of Brampton, Ont., spoke publicly upon their reunion, saying she hoped her story-book ending offered hope to others whose children were taken from them.

“I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering, one should never give up,” she said at the time. “Be patient, be strong, and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2020.

— with files from The Associated Press.

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Canadian Ambassador To China Says Relations Are Tense

OTTAWA — Canada’s ambassador to China says there is a chill in relations between the two countries since the People’s Republic imprisoned two Canadians, but his top priority is winning their release and resetting the relationship. 

Dominic Barton offered that assessment in testimony on Wednesday before the special House of Commons committee studying the fraught relationship between the two countries, which was already tense when he was named to the post last fall.

Barton said that his main concern is winning the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, both detained by China in December 2018 in what is widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou.

The RCMP arrested Meng in Vancouver on an American extradition request and nine days later Kovrig and Spavor were detained and accused of violating China’s national security.

Canada's Ambassador to China Dominic Barton waits to appear before the House of Commons committee in Ottawa on Feb. 5, 2020.

Neither Kovrig nor Spavor has seen a lawyer or been permitted visits from their families, while Meng has been released on bail and is living in a luxurious Vancouver home while her extradition hearing plays out.

Barton says other priorities include clemency for Canadian Robert Schellenberg, who was given a death sentence in January 2019 after having been previously sentenced to prison for drug smuggling.

“The chill is real,” Barton said.

He said both sides were shaking with anger during his first diplomatic meeting with Chinese officials.

“The first conversation I had was probably one of the most unpleasant conversations I have ever had.”

Barton said he has now met with all three imprisoned Canadian men and is impressed with how they are holding up. He said he plans to make further personal visits.

“I hope that our efforts will soon bear fruit,” he said, without elaborating. 

“I am unbelievably inspired by their resilience.”

Dominic Barton before the House of Commons committee on Canada-China relations in Ottawa on Feb. 5, 2020. 

Opposition MPs on the committee clashed over whether Barton, not a career diplomat, was the right person for the job. His long tenure as the global managing director of consulting giant McKinsey & Co. drew sharp criticism from Conservative and New Democrat MPs.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis said he was “a completely inappropriate choice as ambassador,” and said his time with the company — and the work it did for Chinese firms — raises a “big red flags for me.”

Genuis referred to a New York Times investigation from December 2018 that headlined how McKinsey held a lavish 2018 retreat in remote western China a short drive from where a large prison had been built to hold ethnic Muslim Uighurs.

He asked Barton to submit a list of state-owned Chinese firms that McKinsey worked with.

 “I’m very proud of my career and time in the private sector,” Barton replied in a measured tone. “We’re known for telling truth to power.”

We’re known for telling truth to power.Dominic Barton, Canada’s ambassador to China

NDP MP Jack Harris questioned whether the business relationship of Barton’s wife with Chinese firms was a problem.

Barton said he has been “extraordinarily diligent” with the government’s conflicts and ethics vetting.

“My integrity matters a lot to me.”

Bloc Quebecois MP Stephane Bergeron defended Barton, saying he could not hide his “unease” with the attacks on Barton.

“The worst thing to do is to undermine the credibly of the person that is representing Canada before Chinese authorities,” said Bergeron. 

“You are very qualified for the delicate mission that has been given to you.”

The special committee was the result of a Conservative motion passed in December, supported by other opposition parties in the minority Parliament. It wants the prime minister, cabinet ministers and diplomats to appear as witnesses as the committee sees fit.

You are very qualified for the delicate mission that has been given to you.Bloc Quebecois MP Stephane Bergeron to Dominic Barton

Barton was appointed last fall after a long career in business, which included working in China and across Asia.

Barton said his experience in China dates back to 2003, when he lived in Shanghai for six years. He said he has had consistent engagement with people in China since then. 

But he said he can’t “pretend to have all the answers” when it comes to understanding such a complex and dynamic country.

China also faces significant challenges despite its strong economic growth and its new assertive posture on the international stage, said Barton. These include poverty, a polluted environment and demographic challenges that come with being one of the world’s most quickly aging societies.

Barton said he has not been shy about pressing Canada’s concerns over China’s human rights situation, singling out the treatment of China’s ethnic Muslim community.

Human rights organizations have said that as many as one million ethnic Uighur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region have been rounded up and placed in camps. China says it is trying to re-educate and integrate the Uighurs to make them better contributors to Chinese society.

“Journalists, diplomats, and Chinese civil society representatives I spoke to agree that 2019 witnessed an increased crackdown on dissent and on expressions of disagreement about China’s human rights record, within and outside the country,” Barton said.

The government is concerned by the “credible reports of the mass detention, repressive surveillance, and family separation affecting Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, under the pretext of countering extremism, terrorism and separatism.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2020.

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Canadians lose at least $130 million in scams last year

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has said that an e-mail based scam called “spear phishing” is cheating people of more money than any other scam in Canada.

In a phishing scam, criminals may send the same email to thousands of people hoping a percentage will be fooled and send them money.

A spear phishing attack is more targeted—a request for money or information may be sent to a specific person, organization or business. It was the number one scam in Canada last year with losses of almost $37 million.

“At the end of the day it’s the fraudsters that are sending these emails and the person receiving it thinks it’s coming from someone you know,” Jeff Thomson, an RCMP officer with the anti-fraud centre, said.

Canadians looking for love online lost $23 million last year in romance scams, the center said.

“They are meeting people looking for love, recently widowed, divorced or people new to online dating,” Thomson said.

Canadians also lost more than $13 million in investments scams and $11 million by extortion, with criminals using ransomware to demand companies pay up or lose valuable data.

“At the end of the day they are just scaring people they are coercing them and making the scams more fearful and saying you need to do this right away or else,” Thomson said.

Service scams cost Canadians more than $8 million, while prize scams almost $4 million and the bank investigator scam about $3.5 million.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns everyone to be vigilant and cautious to not become a victim.

“If you’re getting these automated calls and they are urging you to take action we would advise you to hang up and never feel pressured to pay especially in gift cards or Bitcoin” said Thomson.

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‘The chill is real,’ Canada’s ambassador to China says of fraught relationship

OTTAWA — Canada’s ambassador to China says there is a chill in relations between the two countries since the People’s Republic imprisoned two Canadians, but his top priority is winning their release and resetting the relationship. 

Dominic Barton is offering that assessment in testimony this evening before the special House of Commons committee studying the fraught relationship between the two countries, which was already tense when he was named to the post last fall.

Barton says in prepared remarks that his top priority is winning the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained by China in December 2018 in what is widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou.

The RCMP arrested Meng in Vancouver on an American extradition request, and nine days later Kovrig and Spavor were detained and accused of violating China’s national security.

Neither Kovrig nor Spavor has seen a lawyer or been permitted visits from their families, while Meng has been released on bail and is living in a luxurious Vancouver home while her extradition hearing plays out.

Barton says his top priorities include seeking clemency for Canadian Robert Schellenberg, who was given a death sentence in January 2019 after having been previously sentenced to prison for drug smuggling.

“In December 2018, Canada’s relations with China fundamentally changed following the arrest of Meng Wanzhou,” Barton says in prepared remarks.

“The chill is real. I am committed to working hard to resolve the significant challenges that currently exist in the bilateral relationship.”

Barton says he has now met with all three imprisoned Canadian men and is impressed with how they are holding up.

“While I insist that we protect their privacy and the wishes of their families for discretion, I nonetheless want to say that I have had the opportunity to meet each of them several times now, and their resilience has deeply impressed me,” he says. 

“I consistently and constructively engage with the Chinese government on their cases, and hope that our efforts will soon bear fruit.”

The special committee was the result of a Conservative motion passed in December, thanks to support from other opposition parties in the minority Parliament. It wants the prime minister, cabinet ministers and diplomats to appear as witnesses as the committee sees fit.

Barton is the first significant witness to appear. NDP MP  Jack Harris said prior to the hearing that Barton’s testimony would be important, especially in light of the breakout of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, a city in central China.

Some 200 Canadians are now scheduled to fly out of China on a government-chartered plane, but there has been criticism Canada reacted too slowly.

“Are we being inefficient as a country in dealing with this or are we getting barriers put in place because of the other issues between Canada and China,” Harris said.

Barton was appointed last fall after a long career in business, which included working in China and across Asia.

Barton says his experience in China dates back to 2003, when he lived in Shanghai for six years.

“Although I have had consistent engagement with people in China since leaving, I certainly do not pretend to have all the answers when it comes to understanding this complex, diverse and dynamic country. In fact, I would caution against anyone who says they do.”

China also faces significant challenges despite its strong economic growth and its new assertive posture on the international stage, says Barton.

These include poverty, a polluted environment and demographic challenges that come with being one of the world’s fastest aging societies, he says.

“While China has taken significant economic strides in recent decades — strides that have lifted hundreds of millions above the poverty line — it continues to have millions more who live just below or at the subsistence level,” he says.

Barton says he has not been shy about pressing Canada’s concerns over China’s human rights situation.

He singled out the situation surrounding the treatment of China’s ethnic Muslim community.

Human rights organizations have said that as many as one million ethnic Uighur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region have been rounded up and placed in camps. China says they trying to re-educate and integrate the Uighurs to make them better contributors to Chinese society.

“Journalists, diplomats, and Chinese civil society representatives I spoke to agree that 2019 witnessed an increased crackdown on dissent and on expressions of disagreement about China’s human rights record, within and outside the country,” Barton says.

“I know many Canadians are especially concerned by the credible reports of the mass detention, repressive surveillance, and family separation affecting Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, under the pretext of countering extremism, terrorism and separatism.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2020.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

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