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Catholic Bishops of Canada apologize to Indigenous peoples over residential schools

Sep 24, 2021 4:51:43 PM

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Catholic Bishops of Canada have apologized to Indigenous Peoples of Canada over residential schools.

After “months” of meetings and conversations with First Nations, Metis and Inuit leaders and communities, the bishops issued the apology and expressed remorse in a statement Friday.

“We acknowledge the suffering experienced in Canada's Indian Residential Schools,” they said in their statement. “...We, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our profound remorse and apologize unequivocally.”

The group recognized the involvement of Catholic communities and dioceses in the system, “which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples.”

They also acknowledged and apologized for the “historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day.”

The bishops then promised fundraising campaigns across Canada to address initiatives brought up after consulting with Indigenous partners.

They asked Indigenous Peoples to help their dioceses in prioritizing “initiatives of healing, to listen to the experience of Indigenous Peoples, especially to the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, and to educate our clergy, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful, on Indigenous cultures and spirituality.”

The bishops also committed to providing documentation and records to find and memorialize those buried in unmarked graves.

More to come.

Kevin Jiang is a Toronto-based digital producer for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @crudelykevin

U.S. suspends charges against Meng Wanzhou in a deal that could help Canadians detained in China

Sep 24, 2021 10:24:00 AM

vcrd11232901 huawei exec meng wanzhou appearing in court friday to resolve charges report says 24 09 2021 federal politics thestar dam content www.thestar.com  https:

OTTAWA—The nearly three year saga of Meng Wanzhou’s detention in Canada is all but over, but the ordeal faced by two Canadians arrested in China drags on.

After months of negotiations, officials with the U.S. Department of Justice finalized a deal with Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on Friday that allows the Chinese corporate star to avoid criminal charges she faced in the United States, and paved the way for extradition proceedings against her in Canada to be dropped.

Under the deferred prosecution deal, and following a Vancouver court appearance scheduled for later Friday, Meng could be clear to return to China as soon as Friday evening.

It was not immediately clear what impact the agreement might have on the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians who were arrested in China in 2018 in what was seen as retaliation for Meng’s arrest in Canada. The Canadian government had no comment Friday afternoon as the events unfolded.

A lawyer who represented Meng in the U.S. said Friday’s agreement means his client not longer faces prosecution in the United States, and that the American government’s request to have her extradited from Canada will be withdrawn.

“She has not pleaded guilty and we fully expect the indictment will be dismissed with prejudice after 12 months,” said Bill Taylor. “Now, she will be free to return home to be with her family.”

Appearing in a New York court by video on Friday, the chief financial officer for tech giant Huawei formally pleaded not guilty to a charge of fraud.

However, she also told the court she agreed with a statement of facts that said she and Huawei had falsely represented its business activities in Iran to the investment bank HSBC, and that those activities were in violation of American sanctions against doing business in Iran.

Meng had previously insisted that Huawei was not related to a company called Skycom, which she described as a “third party” doing work in Iran.

On Friday, she acknowledged that was not the case.

“Those statements were untrue because, as Ms. Meng knew ... Huawei controlled Skycom, and Skycom employees were really Huawei employees,” states the deferred prosecution agreement, the text of which was released Friday afternoon.

“In entering into the deferred prosecution agreement, Meng has taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution,” said Nicole Boeckmann, the acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a news release.

U.S. justice officials suggested without Friday’s agreement, the extradition proceedings in Canada could have gone on for much longer.

“This deferred prosecution agreement will lead to the end of the ongoing extradition proceedings in Canada, which otherwise could have continued for many months, if not years,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko of the U.S. Justice Department’s national security division.

“We are enormously grateful to Canada’s Department of Justice for its dedicated work on this extradition and for its steadfast adherence to the rule of law.”

The deal allowed Meng to plead not guilty after she was formally arraigned Friday on charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

A guilty plea or conviction wold have had implications for both her reputation and her ability to continue in her role as a global corporate executive.

If Meng breaks the terms of the agreement, the charges and the prosecution can be revived and pursued anew.

The deal covers a four-year period ending on Dec. 1, 2022, after which the U.S. government will drop the charges if she complies with its terms, said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kessler.

Following the hearing, the U.S. district attorney said the U.S. Department of Justice would notify Canada immediately that it would withdraw the extradition request.

The agreement could ultimately lead to a breakthrough in the cases of the two Canadians — known as the “two Michaels” — who were arrested in China after Canadian authorities detained Meng in Vancouver at the request of the U.S.

China has denied the cases are related, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has flatly rejected that claim, saying Beijing made clear to Ottawa that the detentions were linked.

Trudeau had resisted calls to strike a deal that would release Meng, saying he rejects “hostage diplomacy” and to do otherwise would put Canadian citizens at risk abroad.

Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder and chief executive officer Ren Zhengfei, who has close ties with China’s Communist Party rulers. She left her Vancouver house on Friday surrounded by private security guards, and wearing the electronic bracelet that has monitored her whereabouts since she was placed under house arrest in Canada.

Kovrig and Spavor have been jailed in China since December 2018.

Spavor, a businessman, was convicted by a Chinese court on national security charges and sentenced in early August to 11 years in jail. Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat who was on leave at the time of his detention, has been tried, but the verdict has not yet been announced.

When Spavor was convicted in early August, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the immediate release of the two Michaels.

“The practice of arbitrarily detaining individuals to exercise leverage over foreign governments is completely unacceptable,” Blinken said. “People should never be used as bargaining chips.”

Meng’s arrest and separate allegations that Huawei has been stealing American intellectual property have become major irritants between the U.S. and China, and left Canada caught between the two economic superpowers.

The stakes could not be higher for the two Canadian men, and others in jail, and the economic stakes were on display after China also slapped several trade measures to block Canadian exports of beef, pork and canola.

Jerome Beaugrand-Champagne, who teaches Chinese law at McGill University, said the deal was undoubtedly approved by Beijing authorities.

“This plea deal would not have been accepted if the Chinese Communist Party would not have said yes to it, since it has some international implications with their relationships with Canada and the U.S.,” he told CBC News.

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

A timeline of the Meng Wanzhou trial and mounting tensions between Canada and China

Sep 24, 2021 4:50:00 PM

vcrd11228504 a timeline of the meng wanzhou trial and mounting tensions between canada and china 24 09 2021 canada news thestar dam content www.thestar.com  https:

U.S. justice authorities have cut a deal with Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou that allows her to escape criminal liability, a seemingly significant step toward a conclusion in a nearly three-year saga.

Known as a “deferred prosecution agreement,” the deal is giving Canadian observers hope for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadian men who were detained in China in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest in Vancouver.

Meng was arrested by the RCMP in December 2018, based on allegations that she misled HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions against that country.

Here’s a look back at the situation that has generated great tensions between Canada, China and the U.S.:

Who is Meng Wanzhou?

Meng is Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei. Her mother, Meng Jun, also has connections to the Chinese government as the daughter of the former deputy governor of Sichuan province.

Ren’s net worth is $1.3 billion US, according to Forbes.

Timeline

Aug. 22, 2018

A New York court issues a warrant for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou.

Dec. 1, 2018

Meng is arrested by RCMP at the request of American authorities at the Vancouver International Airport after getting off a flight from Hong Kong on her way to Mexico.

Dec. 6, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he had nothing to do with the decision by Canadian justice officials.

“I can assure everyone we are a country of an independent judiciary and the appropriate authorities took the decisions in this case without any political involvement or interference,” said Trudeau.

White House officials say then-president Donald Trump had no advance knowledge of the arrest.

Dec. 7, 2018

On the first day of Meng’s bail hearing at the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Crown prosecutors reveal the nature of the claims for the first time. Prosecutors allege Meng knew Huawei was operating a company called SkyCom to do business with Iran, which has been subject to U.S. sanctions since 1979.

The U.S. authorities allege Meng committed fraud by telling an HSBC executive her company was in compliance with U.S. sanctions against Iran limiting communication technology.

Dec. 9, 2018

China threatens Canada with grave consequences if Meng is not immediately released, calling her arrest “unreasonable, unconscionable and vile in nature.”

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summons Canadian ambassador to China John McCallum to urge Meng’s release.

Dec. 10, 2018

Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor are arrested in China.

Kovrig, a respected former diplomat, worked at the Canadian embassy from 2014 to 2016 and for a few months in the Hong Kong consulate, where he was the political fixer for Trudeau’s 2016 visit. At the time of his arrest, he was a senior adviser on North-East Asia for the International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization that promotes ways to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

Spavor is an entrepreneur who runs a China-based company that organizes sport and cultural trips into North Korea, and was a fixer for former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman’s trip to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

China says both men are being held for allegedly endangering China’s national security.

Dec. 11, 2018

Meng is released on $10-million bail: $7 million in cash and a $3-million surety made up of property from four associates. She is ordered to remain in Vancouver, where she owns two homes, while she awaits extradition proceedings.

Furthermore, she is ordered to stay inside her home on West 28th Avenue from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. and be subject to 24-hour-a-day monitoring by both a live security detail and electronic ankle bracelet. She must pay for the cost of her security monitoring.

Dec. 21, 2018

Canada formally demands the release of Kovrig and Spavor. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland says, “We are deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities of two Canadians earlier this month and call for their immediate release.”

Dec. 23, 2018

Canada’s allies, including the United Kingdom, European Union and United States, condemn the detention of the two Michaels, citing deep concerns over what the U.K. suggested was the “political motivation” behind China’s actions.

Jan. 9, 2019

Documents found by Reuters confirm Huawei’s links to companies suspected of operating in Iran and Syria.

Jan. 14, 2019

A Chinese court sentences Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death in a drug-smuggling case, overturning his 15-year sentence from November. Trudeau suggests that China is trying to pressure Canada and says that “all countries around the world” should be concerned about Beijing’s arbitrary use of its judicial system.

Jan. 22, 2019

The U.S. Department of Justice announces that it will formally ask Canada to extradite Meng, ensuring a protracted global dispute that one former U.S. diplomat says will have lasting and dangerous repercussions for all three countries.

Jan. 25, 2019

Trudeau fires his ambassador to China, John McCallum, after McCallum ignored a warning from the prime minister and repeated the mistake of talking publicly about the government’s view of the Meng Wanzhou case and how it hoped to resolve the plight of two Canadians detained in China.

That was after StarMetro published an interview with McCallum in Vancouver in which he said that it would be “great for Canada” if the U.S. relinquishes its attempt to extradite Huawei’s chief financial officer.

March 1, 2019

Canada’s Department of Justice gives the official go-ahead on extradition proceedings for Meng Wanzhou.

“The department is satisfied that the requirements set out by the Extradition Act for the issuance of an authority-to-proceed have been met and there is sufficient evidence to be put before an extradition judge for decision,” the department said in a release.

March 5, 2019

One of Canada’s largest grain processors is blocked from exporting canola to China, as diplomatic tensions continue to grow between the two countries.

March 26, 2019

China blocks canola shipment from a second major Canadian producer, saying that several hazardous organisms were detected in canola shipments from Regina-based Viterra Inc.

May 2, 2019

China suspends the export permits of two Canadian pork exporters, apparently over package mislabelling amid growing tensions between the two countries.

May 8, 2019

The Canadian government delays making a decision on whether to ban Huawei Technologies Co. from 5G telecommunications systems.

May 23, 2019

China’s ambassador to Canada says the bilateral relationship is now at “rock bottom” compared to any time since diplomatic ties were first established decades ago.

June 26, 2019

China halts imports of Canadian meat after an investigation into traces of a banned feed additive led to the discovery of counterfeit health certificates attached to a pork shipment.

Aug. 21, 2019

Lawyers for Meng allege Canadian officials acted as “agents” of U.S. law enforcement while she was detained at Vancouver’s airport for three hours ahead of her arrest. In court documents, they outline handwritten notes by Canadian officers indicating Meng’s electronics were collected in anticipation of a request from the FBI.

Sept. 23, 2019

The Crown says Canadian officials followed the law when they detained Meng and the defence has no proof to substantiate its “conspiracy theory” that she was illegally arrested.

Jan. 20, 2020

Meng Wanzhou begins an extradition hearing in Vancouver court.

Feb. 5, 2020

Canadian exports to China plunged $4.6 billion, or 16 per cent, to $24.4 billion in 2019, according to data released by Statistics Canada.

May 27, 2020

In a major setback for Meng, a Canadian judge rejects her attempt to end her extradition hearing.

Meng’s defence lawyers had argued that the charges she faces are based on U.S. sanctions that don’t exist in Canada. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes rejects the argument, and states that such an approach would “seriously limit Canada’s ability to fulfil its international obligations in the extradition context for fraud and other economic crimes.”

June 19, 2020

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig is charged in Beijing on suspicion of spying for state secrets and intelligence. Michael Spavor is charged in Dandong near the North Korean border on suspicion of spying for a foreign entity and illegally providing state secrets.

Trudeau says the government is using public and private measures to secure the release of two Canadians detained in China for 18 months.

June 22, 2020

Trudeau says Chinese officials made clear in the days following the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor that their imprisonments were linked with Canada’s detention of Meng Wanzhou days earlier.

Aug. 7, 2020

China sentences a fourth Canadian citizen to death on drug charges in less than two years following a sharp downturn in ties over Meng’s arrest.

Ye Jianhui was sentenced by the Foshan Municipal Intermediate Court in the southern province of Guangdong. Ye had been found guilty of manufacturing and transporting illegal drugs, the court said in a brief statement.

Oct. 9, 2020

In a new setback, Meng’s lawyers fail to convince a Canadian judge to grant her access to confidential documents pertaining to her extradition fight.

Meng had pressed for additional disclosure about the circumstances of her arrest at Vancouver’s airport.

Jan. 29, 2021

A B.C. Supreme Court judge refuses to ease Meng Wanzhou’s bail conditions, saying the current restrictions are the minimum required to ensure she does not flee Canada.

Feb. 23, 2021

Following a meeting with Trudeau, newly elected U.S. President Joe Biden pledges to help get Spavor and Kovrig out of a Chinese prison — something Trump was not willing to do.

“Human beings are not bartering chips,” Biden says.

March 2021

The trials of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig begin in Beijing.

Canadian diplomats are refused access to the trials and told hearings will be held behind closed doors because of alleged national security concerns. Diplomats and journalists show up nonetheless to seek information and show support. Verdicts are expected to come at a later date.

March 29, 2021

U.S. authorities are violating international law by bringing fraud charges against Meng Wanzhou that have no connection to the U.S., a defence lawyer argues.

June 22, 2021

A new report based on interviews or testimony with nearly two dozen people who have been held in secret locations in China gives more detail into the kind of conditions Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have likely endured during their incarceration.

Suicide-proof walls, maggots under mattresses, perpetually closed drapes and 24-hour fluorescent lighting are just some of the conditions those detained in Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) described enduring while detained.

July 9, 2021

Justice Heather Holmes says she will not allow new evidence to be admitted in the extradition case of Meng Wanzhou.

Holmes says the application by Meng’s lawyers to use the documents obtained from HSBC through a Hong Kong court is denied.

Aug. 9, 2021

A Chinese court rejects Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s appeal against a death sentence ruling.

Aug. 10, 2021

After two and a half years in detention, Michael Spavor is found guilty of espionage charges by a court in China, and sentenced to 11 years in a Chinese prison.

Chinese legal experts say that, in the Chinese criminal system, more than 99 per cent of cases that go to trial result in convictions.

Aug. 11, 2021

Federal leaders unite in calling for the release of Spavor and Kovrig.

Despite the rare show of political unity and government promises to keep fighting for their release, it remains unclear exactly which cards Canada still has to play when it comes to freeing the prisoners.

Aug. 17, 2021

Defence lawyers wrap up arguments in Meng’s extradition hearing in Vancouver.

Sept. 5, 2021

As Kovrig and Spavor mark 1,000 days in separate Chinese prisons, their supporters take to the streets of Ottawa and beyond to push for their freedom.

About 150 people gather in the capital to walk roughly an hour and a half to a park near Parliament Hill. The rally replicates the 7,000 steps Kovrig has tried to walk every day in his cramped jail cell to maintain his physical and mental well-being, along with a strict regime of reading and meditation.

Sept. 24, 2021

U.S. justice authorities cut a deferred prosecution deal with Meng Wanzhou that allows the Chinese corporate star to escape criminal liability and paves the way for extradition proceedings in Canada to be dropped.

Before prosecutors outlined the deal in a Brooklyn court, Meng formally pleads not guilty.

The deal could ultimately lead to a breakthrough in the cases Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

With files from the Star staff and wire services.

Richie Assaly is a Toronto-based digital producer for the Star. Reach him via email: rassaly@thestar.ca

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