Canada’s Ambassador to China Dominic Barton was granted virtual consular access to Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian who is facing the death penalty in China, for the first time since January.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed the news in a statement released Wednesday.
“Canadian consular officials continue to provide consular services to him and his family,” the press release read.
“Canada continues to call for clemency for Robert Schellenberg, as we do for all Canadians facing the death penalty.”
Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years in November 2018 after being convicted of playing a central role in a methamphetamine smuggling operation in China. However, Schellenberg was re-tried the month after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
At the January 2019 trial, he was handed the death penalty. Schellenberg has maintained his innocence since his arrest in 2014.
Canada has condemned the sentencing, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accusing China of “arbitrarily” applying the death penalty when the news first emerged.
“It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to arbitrarily apply [the] death penalty,” Trudeau told reporters in January 2019.
Chinese officials have denied that the hasty retrial has anything to do with Meng’s arrest, though Schellenberg’s lawyer Zhang Dongshuo said at the time that it was “unique” for a retrial to be held so quickly.
The Huawei executive at the centre of the tensions between Canada and China was arrested at the behest of the United States, which had requested her extradition. The move put a target on Canada’s back and plunged relations between Canada and China into the deep freeze.
In addition to sentencing Schellenberg to death, China also arrested Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in what the Canadian government has described as retaliation — though China insists otherwise.
Barton was also granted consular access to Spavor and Kovrig on October 9, marking the first time since January that the two men were allowed to speak to Canadian officials.
In addition to Spavor and Kovrig’s arrests and Schellenberg’s death penalty sentence, China also briefly banned the import of Canadian beef and pork, blaming it on a banned animal feed additive they claim was found in a shipment of Canadian pork.
Chinese state-run media has also ridiculed the idea that Meng would be dealt with by an independent judiciary, and Trump has further fuelled Chinese conspiracy theories about political motivations behind Meng’s arrest with his comments about potential intervention.
Meanwhile, Canada has been forced to fiercely defend the independence of its judiciary, despite Chinese pressure for Meng to be returned to home soil — pressure that resulted in what Canadian officials have called the arbitrary detention of the two Canadians in China.
With files from CTV News’ Ryan Flanagan
Source: – CTV News
Landmark settlement is a message to Canadian companies extracting resources overseas: Amnesty International – CBC.ca
A human rights lawsuit alleging slavery and torture has been settled outside of court with a Canadian mining company for an undisclosed but “significant” amount, according to Amnesty International.
In February 2020 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the case could be heard in B.C. despite the fact it involved events in Africa.
The terms of the settlement remain confidential but human rights advocates say the outcome of this legal proceeding will resonate.
Tara Scurr is the business and human rights campaigner for Amnesty International Canada.
She says this case — brought forward by three refugees from Eritrea — involved allegations of torture, slavery and other human rights abuses.
The fact that the Canadian mining company opted to settle the dispute will send a message.
“It’s a precedent-setting case. It’s the first time that level of human rights abuse has been brought before a Canadian court for the activities of a Canadian extractives company overseas,” said Scurr.
She said this serves as an example that such cases can be heard in Canada and result in significant settlements with corporations.
The case was first filed in 2014 by former mine workers Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle.
The trio of Eritrean refugees alleged that Nevsun was responsible for benefiting from human rights abuses including slavery, forced labour, torture and crimes against humanity during construction of its copper and gold mine in Eritrea.
Amnesty International said in a news release that the terms of the settlement between the company and the three refugees are confidential.
The secretary general of Amnesty International Canada lauded the courage of the mine workers who came forward with their “horrific” experiences in a “groundbreaking” lawsuit.
“These individuals helped pave the way for corporate accountability overseas. Canadian companies must take responsibility for alleged human rights abuses associated with their operations, not just on Canadian soil, but anywhere in the world,” said Ketty Nivyabandi.
SCOC allowed it to proceed in B.C.
In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court dismissed Nevsun’s appeal of the case and allowed it to proceed in B.C., affirming that international law applied to both states and corporations and making it clear that companies can be tried in Canada over serious allegations in other countries.
During the proceedings Nevsun denied that the company or any subsidiaries enlisted the Eritrean military to build the mine or supply labour, and said the refugees behind the court action were not mistreated.
B.C. courts dismissed Nevsun’s attempts to make Eritrea the forum for the lawsuit.
In its March decision, the Supreme Court rejected the company’s argument that Canadian courts are precluded from assessing the sovereign acts of a foreign government, including Eritrea’s national military service program.
The court also noted that customary international law — the common law of the international legal system — embraces fundamental norms, including prohibitions against slavery, forced labour and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Scurr said the trio who first brought the case continue to suffer trauma because of their experiences.
She said workers described being bound and beaten, tied up in the hot sun and left for hours, while earning about $30 US per month. There was no sick leave and they faced retribution that affected their families if they took any leave.
She said the settlement is a relief for the families, despite the fact details about who was involved won’t be publicized.
“It saves them giving testimony, giving evidence, having every single issue scrutinized and debated while they are still recovering from the terrific abuses they suffered. In fact, fantastic for them that the case has been settled. I know that they are very happy.”
CBC reached out to former Nevsun executives who declined comment.
Requests to Zijin Mining Group Company, a Chinese company that acquired Nevsun in 2018 for $1.9 billion, have gone unanswered.
In previous statements, Nevsun denied all allegations and said it planned to “vigorously defend itself in court.”
Canada adds more than 2500 new coronavirus cases Friday – Global News
Twenty-six more coronavirus patients have died in Canada, and 2,582 new cases of the virus have been recorded.
The increases announced Friday bring the cumulative national case total to 211,515, though more than 177,000 people have recovered, according to provincial statistics. The number of COVID-19-positive people in Canada who have died stands at 9,888.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said the number of people experiencing severe cases of the virus is on the rise. An average of 1,000 Canadians are in hospital daily, she said, with more than 200 in critical care.
Feds making little headway on improving long-term care homes
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $214 million to support “made in Canada” coronavirus vaccine research.
At a press conference in Ottawa, he also shed some light on who might be first in line to receive an immunization once a product is proven to be effective and safe.
Trudeau said the “reasonable expectation” is that vaccines could arrive sometime in the new year, but initially there will be smaller amounts available and the shots would be going to priority groups first.
“I think of our most vulnerable or our front-line workers, and we have experts busy evaluating exactly how and where and in which way to distribute these vaccines,” he said.
Quebec, the province hardest hit by the virus, added 905 cases on Friday, along with 12 deaths — four of which occurred in the last 24 hours.
Officials warned Friday that Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches residents must abide by public health directives aimed at stemming the tide of COVID-19 in order to keep the health-care network intact.
“If we keep on the same track as we currently are, we are going straight into a wall,” said Quebec’s Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault. “The health-care system will not be able to take care of you anymore in some cases.”
Coronavirus: New recommendations aimed at saving lives in Ontario long-term care homes
Ontario posted another 826 coronavirus cases and nine fatalities attributed to the virus. An independent commission on long-term care released a report with recommendations on how to assist Ontario facilities in the second wave of the virus.
B.C., which is heading to the polls on Saturday, topped 2,000 active virus cases for the first time on Friday with the addition of 223 cases.
In Manitoba, 163 new cases were announced, along with the death of a man in his 80s who was a resident at a Winnipeg long-term care home that is suffering an outbreak.
Throughout Atlantic Canada, just two more cases of the virus were diagnosed — both in New Brunswick.
The Northwest Territories also announced a new coronavirus patient, who officials said was a Yellowknife resident who works at the Gahcho Kue diamond mine. Health officials in Yukon announced three new cases on Friday, located in Watson Lake near the boundary with B.C.
Coronavirus: WHO says world is at a ‘critical juncture’ amid pandemic, some countries on a ‘dangerous track’
With some record daily case counts around the world this week, the World Health Organization warned that we are at a “critical juncture” in the pandemic.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference Friday that some countries are on a “dangerous track.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, which is tallying known cases and deaths around the world, more than 42 million people have been diagnosed, and 1.1 million have died due to COVID-19 as of Friday.
—With files from Kalina Laframboise and Global News reporters across Canada
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada and its manufacturing sector face harm if PPE documents are released, says industry group – CBC.ca
Releasing confidential documents detailing the federal government’s business deals with suppliers of personal protective equipment and testing devices could hurt Canadian manufacturers and sully Canada’s global business reputation, a major industry association says.
Dennis Darby is president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, a 150-year-old organization that represents some 2,500 businesses. He has written to the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP asking them to push back against a Conservative motion requesting those documents.
“We urge you to resist calls for disclosing any proprietary and confidential business information shared in private with the government of Canada and we commit ourselves to working with you to ensure that this does not happen,” Darby wrote.
The letter refers to Conservative MP Michelle Rempel-Garner’s motion calling on the federal government to release “all memoranda, emails, documents, notes and other records” detailing federal government’s purchasing of all testing-related equipment, from swabs to devices, and all personal protective equipment.
The motion also calls for detailed information about vaccines and asks the federal government’s Vaccine Task Force for information about its contacts with the federal government and its vaccine distribution and monitoring strategy.
“If these disclosures are too broad, it will negatively impact business operations for manufacturers in Canada and around the globe,” Darby wrote. “Furthermore, we worry that the reputations of many manufacturers, who stepped up to produce and sell personal protective equipment (PPE), testing devices, or other goods, will be unfairly tarnished.”
Darby said that the expense involved in retooling factories to produce masks, face shields, gowns and other items increased the cost of those products, even though the manufacturers sold them to the government at cost.
“Without doubt, those sudden ramp-up costs are significantly higher than a manufacturer who had been producing those same products for years,” Darby said in the letter. “We do not think their intentions should be called into question.”
The motion will go to a vote on Monday. Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez’s office confirmed Thursday it won’t be considered a confidence vote — meaning it won’t trigger a general election if it passes.
The parties are debating how much time the government should have to gather the relevant documents after the Liberals said the motion’s 15-day timeline was unrealistic.
Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, made a similar plea on Twitter this week, saying that the Conservative motion is threatening the “biggest industrial mobilization of Canadian industry in its history.”
Volpe said that if manufacturers find their work being politicized, the companies that dropped everything to be a part of the effort to make PPE could abandon the work and tell the federal government to shop for PPE in China.
Now this motion threatens to politicize to biggest industrial mobilization of Canadian industry in its history. <br><br>There are firm levers to compel disclosure at any time of any business any govt is conducting with industry.<br><br>This motion isn’t necessary. /3<a href=”https://t.co/2OL1pw91Rr”>https://t.co/2OL1pw91Rr</a>
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics Thursday that the federal government is in the middle of negotiating contracts and disclosing sensitive business information could threaten those deals.
“If we go ahead and release information, that will undermine our supplier relationships,” she told guest host David Cochrane. “I am very concerned with releasing documents, vaccine contracts, PPE contracts … because we will undermine those relationships.”
The co-chairs of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force also expressed their concern in a letter sent Thursday to the leaders of all five federal political parties.
Joanne Langley and Mark Lievonen said that in order to provide advice to cabinet, they have entered into non-disclosure agreements with companies from Canada and around the world.
The task force has offered MPs from all parties a briefing, providing those MPs are also “subject to the same confidentiality arrangements” that bind the task force.
“Without this guarantee of commercial confidentiality, it would not have been possible for us to meaningfully engage with these firms nor to obtain the data needed to make evidence-based, informed recommendations,” the letter from the task force co-chairs said.
It’s not clear what the final motion will look like come Monday; as it stands now, it includes a provision that appears to allow for some information to be withheld.
The motion says the documents can be “vetted for matters of personal privacy information and national security … the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with contractual or other negotiations between the Government of Canada and a third party.”
That vetting, the motion says, should be done by the law clerk and parliamentary counsel within seven days of delivery of the documents.
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