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Canadian woman dying of cancer can't reunite with American fiancé due to COVID-19 restrictions – CBC.ca

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It’s a heartbreaking story.

Canadian Danielle Larocque has terminal uterine cancer. Her one wish is to reunite with her American fiancé, Charles Emch, before it’s too late.

“I really, really miss him,” said Larocque, 67, who lives in Ottawa. “I have been told I have less than a year [to live].

We’re hoping if he can make it here, that I can end my life with him.”

But the couple remains apart. That’s because, to help stop the spread of COVID-19, Canada has banned foreigners from entering for non-essential travel.

On top of that, the U.S. land border is closed to Canadian visitors. Canadians can still fly to the U.S., but Larocque can’t, due to her ill health. 

That leaves daily Facetime calls as the couple’s only solace.

“We want to be together,” said Emch, 81, who lives in Pompano Beach, Fla. He said he will take a COVID-19 test and is fully prepared to self-isolate for 14 days — if Canada would just let him in. 

“It’s important that I come now … because of how fragile her life is.”

The common-law conundrum

Canada’s travel restrictions have caused heartache for many cross border couples who remain separated during the pandemic. 

The federal government recently revised its rules to allow foreigners to visit immediate family in Canada, including spouses and common-law partners.

But that doesn’t help unmarried couples like Larocque and Emch, who can’t meet the criteria. 

“It makes me sad because of the situation I’m in,” said Larocque.

Danielle Larocque and her American partner, Charles Emch, don’t have the documentation to show they’ve lived at the same address. (submitted by Tara Vidosa)

To qualify as common-law, couples must have lived together for at least one year and prove it with documentation showing a shared residence. 

Larocque and Emch say they have been together for five years, but have split their time between each of their own homes in Ottawa and Pompano Beach — so they have no paperwork showing a shared address. 

The couple did get engaged — by phone — earlier this month, but they can’t get married until they’re reunited. 

“I’m heartbroken, I’m outraged,” said Larocque’s daughter, Tara Vidosa, about her mother’s situation.

Vidosa lives in Montreal, but is currently visiting Larocque in Ottawa. She said her mother’s health is deteriorating. 

“For her to enjoy any quality time with Charles,” he has to come soon, she said.

Fighting for a solution

Earlier this month, Vidosa contaced Larocque’s MP, Liberal Marie-France Lalonde, requesting a special exemption for Emch to enter Canada. 

Lalonde told CBC News she’s trying to help the couple. 

“I’m very sad,” she said. “I really would like to find a solution and I believe our government will try to find a solution.”

But a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair gave no indication that the government is working on a solution. 

“Our hearts are with Ms. Larocque during this unimaginably difficult time,” said the spokesperson in an email to CBC News. The email went on to explain that Canada’s stringent travel restrictions are necessary “to keep Canadians safe.”

Danielle Larocque and her daughter, Tara Vidosa. (submitted by Tara Vidosa)

The response hasn’t deterred Vidosa who plans to continue the fight to reunite her mother with her fiancé. 

Vidosa wants the government to widen its list of who qualifies for immediate family exemptions to enter Canada. That would help not only her mother, but also the many other Canadians still separated from their loved ones, she said.

“It doesn’t really make sense that in 2020, in Canada, we define immediate family with such a narrow definition.”

Government reviewing immediate family definition

The grassroots group Advocacy for Family Reunification at the Canadian Border — which includes hundreds of separated family members — has been lobbying the government since June to expand its immediate family exemptions to include all committed partners and adult children. Currently, only dependent children qualify. 

“Even as an adult child, if I was living in the states, I couldn’t come see my mom in her last days,” said Vidosa. “I would flip.”

Earlier this month, CBC News reported the plight of American Timothy Martin House who lives in New York City. As an adult child, he can’t cross the border to visit his sick, 85-year-old mother in Toronto.

“You should be by your mother’s side at this stage, and I can’t get over there,” said Martin, 61.

Watch | Son and mother kept apart by U.S.-Canada border restrictions:

Families across the country have been divided by the unprecedented border closures. That’s why many were relieved when restrictions were lifted for immediate family members in early June. But many are now shocked as they realize they still don’t qualify. 2:06

The Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News it’s aware of concerns raised by family members still separated from their loved ones. 

As a result, the agency said it’s reviewing its definition of immediate family, while still keeping in mind the risks posed by international travel during the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, Larocque is waiting to see if a resolution comes quickly enough for her to reunite with her fiancé, Emch. She would also like to get married, but says that’s not her top priority.

“Right now, the only plan we have is trying to see each other.”

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Meng Wanzhou scores victory as lawyers allowed to argue U.S. tried to trick Canada – CBC.ca

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Meng Wanzhou scored a victory in her battle to fight extradition Thursday as the judge overseeing the proceedings agreed to let the Huawei executive’s lawyers pursue their claim that the United States misled Canada about the basics of the case.

In a ruling posted online, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said there was an “air of reality to Ms. Meng’s allegations of abuse of process in relation to the requesting state’s conduct.”

At a hearing held last month, the chief financial officer’s lawyers said they believed the evidence was strong enough to prove that the United States omitted key components of the case that undermine allegations of fraud against their client.

Holmes’ ruling means Meng’s lawyers will be able to include those claims as one of three lines of attack in February, when they try to convince the judge that the entire case should be thrown out for abuse of process.

In her ruling, Holmes noted that staying the proceedings against Meng was a possibility if the defence can make its case, but that she might also consider a less drastic remedy, like cutting out parts of the Crown’s record deemed unreliable.

Judge rules new evidence allowed

Meng is charged with fraud and conspiracy in the United States in relation to allegations that she lied to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with a hidden subsidiary that was accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

Prosecutors claim that by lying to HSBC to continue a financial relationship, Meng placed the bank at risk of loss and prosecution for breaching the same sanctions.

The U.S. claims Meng Wanzhou lied to an HSBC banker in a PowerPoint about Huawei’s relationship with a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. (Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg)

As part of the extradition process, the United States provided a record of the case that includes slides from the PowerPoint presentation Meng gave an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in August 2013.

But Meng’s lawyers claim the U.S. deliberately omitted two slides from the PowerPoint that showed Meng didn’t mislead the bank.

And they also claim that where the U.S. said only “junior” employees knew about the real relationship between Huawei and its subsidiary, senior executives at the bank were also aware.

In her ruling, Holmes said she would allow two statements from the missing slides to be included as evidence in the extradition case. She also agreed to allow evidence about HSBC’s management structure to help determine who is junior and who is not.

Rights violation issue not raised, CBSA agent testifies

Holmes released her decision even as Meng’s lawyers were in court gathering evidence related to the second line of argument that there was an abuse of process: the claim that her rights were violated at the time of her arrest.

Meng was questioned by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers for three hours before she was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, after her arrival at Vancouver’s airport on a flight from Hong Kong.

A still from a video of Meng Wanzhou first few hours in CBSA custody. The defence claims her rights were violated during that time. (B.C. Supreme Court)

The defence team claims the CBSA and RCMP conspired with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to mount a covert criminal investigation into Meng by using the border agency’s extraordinary powers to question her without a lawyer.

The CBSA agent who seized Meng’s phones was on the stand Thursday for his second day of testimony.

Border services officer Scott Kirkland testified that he believed there were grounds to question Meng about the possibility she might be involved in espionage. 

During his testimony Wednesday, Kirkland said that was because the CBSA’s internal system has flagged her for “national security” reasons, but he admitted in cross-examination Thursday that this might not have been the case. Meng’s lawyer suggested that she was only targeted because of the criminal charges.

Kirkland also said he thought the RCMP should have arrested Meng immediately, before the CBSA carried out its inquiries, because he worried about the impact of a delay on her right to obtain legal counsel.

Kirkland said he knew the high profile case would end up in court.

But he said he didn’t raise the issue of possible Charter of Rights and Freedoms violations out loud. And no one else among the RCMP and CBSA officers who were present said the word “Charter.”

Two weeks have been set aside in February 2021 for arguments about the record of the case and the alleged violation of Meng’s rights at the time of her arrest.

The third defence claim relates to allegations that U.S. President Donald Trump has politicized the case by threatening to use Meng as a bargaining chip to get a better deal with China.

Holmes noted in her ruling that if any one of those lines of argument were proven, they might not be enough in and of themselves to derail the case, but the cumulative effect of all of them might end in a stay. 

Meng has denied the allegations against her. 

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Privacy investigation finds 5 million shoppers' images collected at malls across Canada – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Without customers’ knowledge, more than five million images of Canadian shoppers’ were collected through facial recognition software used by Cadillac Fairview, a parent company of malls across the country, according to an investigation by privacy officials.

The federal privacy commissioner reported Thursday that Cadillac Fairview contravened federal and provincial privacy laws by embedding cameras inside digital information kiosks at 12 shopping malls across Canada, and captured users’ images without their consent.

The facial recognition software installed in Cadillac Fairview’s “wayfinding” directories was called “Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) and through cameras installed behind protective glass, was used in Canadian malls for a brief testing period in 2017 and then was in-use between May and July of 2018.

The software took temporary digital images of the faces of any individual within the field of view of the camera inside the directory and converted the images into biometric numerical representations of each face and used that information to compile demographic information about mall visitors.

According to the report, the technology was used in directories at the following locations:

  • CF Market Mall in Alberta
  • CF Chinook Centre in Alberta
  • CF Richmond Centre in British Columbia
  • CF Pacific Centre in British Columbia
  • CF Polo Park in Manitoba
  • CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Ontario
  • CF Sherway Gardens in Ontario
  • CF Lime Ridge in Ontario
  • CF Fairview Mall in Ontario
  • CF Markville Mall in Ontario
  • CF Galeries d’Anjou in Quebec
  • CF Carrefour Laval in Quebec

According to a statement from Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien, the company said the goal of its cameras was to “analyze the age and gender of shoppers and not to identify individuals.”

The corporation said that it did not collect personal information because the images were briefly looked at and then deleted, however the information generated from the images was being stored by a third-party contractor called Mappedin, which Cadillac Fairview said it was unaware of.

“When asked the purpose for such collection, Mappedin was unable to provide a response, indicating that the person responsible for programming the code no longer worked for the company,” reads the report.

Therrien notes in his report that Cadillac Fairview not being aware of Mappedin’s storage of the information “compounded the risk of potential use by unauthorized parties or, in the case of a data breach, by malicious actors.”

In an interview on CTV’s Power Play, Deputy Commissioner Brent Homan called it a “massive invasion of privacy” and not one that shoppers would have expected while at the mall. Homan said that one of the lessons Canadians should take away from this report is that facial recognition software is available for companies to use, and while they encourage entities to ask for consent before deploying it on the public, that’s not always the case. 

Cadillac Fairview—one of the largest owners and operators of retail and other properties in North America—“expressly disagreed” with the investigation’s findings, telling the commissioners that there were decals placed on shopping mall entry doors noting their privacy policy.

These stickers directed visitors to visit guest services to obtain a copy of the company’s privacy policy, but when the investigators asked a guest services employee at the Eaton location in Toronto, the employee was “confused by the request” and so Therrien found the stickers to be an “insufficient” measure.

“Shoppers had no reason to expect their image was being collected by an inconspicuous camera, or that it would be used, with facial recognition technology, for analysis,” said Therrien in a statement. “The lack of meaningful consent was particularly concerning given the sensitivity of biometric data, which is a unique and permanent characteristic of our body and a key to our identity.”

The investigation was launched in 2018, following several media reports about information kiosks in malls being equipped with unmarked cameras to monitor visitor demographics. Their examination in this case included visiting Cadillac Fairview’s Toronto headquarters to interview key personnel, viewing the AVA technology inside the wayfinding directories in action, and extracting records from the directories for forensic analysis.

The existence of the software came to light after a user posted an image to Reddit of a display screen at the CF Chinook Centre in Calgary showing coding language including “FaceEncoder” and “FaceAnalyzer.”

Commissioner Therrien’s office worked with Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton as well as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia Michael McEvoy on the investigation.

“Not only must organizations be clear and up front when customers’ personal information is being collected, they must also have proper controls in place to know what their service providers are doing behind the scenes with that information,” Clayton said in a statement.

The trio of commissioners have expressed concern that the company hasn’t accepted their request to commit to ensuring meaningful and express consent is obtained from shoppers in the future should it choose to redeploy similar technology in the future.

In a statement provided to CTV News, Cadillac Fairview notes that the issue has been resolved, the data deleted, and the cameras have been deactivated. As well, the facial recognition software is no longer in use, but the company says it will not commit to its approach to “hypothetical future uses of similar technology.”

“The five million representations referenced in the OPC report are not faces. These are sequences of numbers the software uses to anonymously categorize the age range and gender of shoppers in the camera’s view,” the company said. “We thank the Privacy Commissioner for the report and recommendations on how to further strengthen our privacy practices and agree that the privacy of our visitors must always be a top priority.” 

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Meng Wanzhou scores victory as lawyers allowed to argue U.S. tried to trick Canada – CBC.ca

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Meng Wanzhou scored a victory in her battle to fight extradition Thursday as the judge overseeing the proceedings agreed to let the Huawei executive’s lawyers pursue their claim that the United States misled Canada about the basics of the case.

In a ruling posted online, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said there was an “air of reality to Ms. Meng’s allegations of abuse of process in relation to the requesting state’s conduct.”

At a hearing held last month, the chief financial officer’s lawyers said they believed the evidence was strong enough to prove that the United States omitted key components of the case that undermine allegations of fraud against their client.

Holmes’ ruling means Meng’s lawyers will be able to include those claims as one of three lines of attack in February, when they try to convince the judge that the entire case should be thrown out for abuse of process.

In her ruling, Holmes noted that staying the proceedings against Meng was a possibility if the defence can make its case, but that she might also consider a less drastic remedy, like cutting out parts of the Crown’s record deemed unreliable.

Judge rules new evidence allowed

Meng is charged with fraud and conspiracy in the United States in relation to allegations that she lied to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with a hidden subsidiary that was accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

Prosecutors claim that by lying to HSBC to continue a financial relationship, Meng placed the bank at risk of loss and prosecution for breaching the same sanctions.

The U.S. claims Meng Wanzhou lied to an HSBC banker in a PowerPoint about Huawei’s relationship with a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. (Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg)

As part of the extradition process, the United States provided a record of the case that includes slides from the PowerPoint presentation Meng gave an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in August 2013.

But Meng’s lawyers claim the U.S. deliberately omitted two slides from the PowerPoint that showed Meng didn’t mislead the bank.

And they also claim that where the U.S. said only “junior” employees knew about the real relationship between Huawei and its subsidiary, senior executives at the bank were also aware.

In her ruling, Holmes said she would allow two statements from the missing slides to be included as evidence in the extradition case. She also agreed to allow evidence about HSBC’s management structure to help determine who is junior and who is not.

Rights violation issue not raised, CBSA agent testifies

Holmes released her decision even as Meng’s lawyers were in court gathering evidence related to the second line of argument that there was an abuse of process: the claim that her rights were violated at the time of her arrest.

Meng was questioned by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers for three hours before she was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, after her arrival at Vancouver’s airport on a flight from Hong Kong.

A still from a video of Meng Wanzhou first few hours in CBSA custody. The defence claims her rights were violated during that time. (B.C. Supreme Court)

The defence team claims the CBSA and RCMP conspired with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to mount a covert criminal investigation into Meng by using the border agency’s extraordinary powers to question her without a lawyer.

The CBSA agent who seized Meng’s phones was on the stand Thursday for his second day of testimony.

Border services officer Scott Kirkland testified that he believed there were grounds to question Meng about the possibility she might be involved in espionage. 

During his testimony Wednesday, Kirkland said that was because the CBSA’s internal system has flagged her for “national security” reasons, but he admitted in cross-examination Thursday that this might not have been the case. Meng’s lawyer suggested that she was only targeted because of the criminal charges.

Kirkland also said he thought the RCMP should have arrested Meng immediately, before the CBSA carried out its inquiries, because he worried about the impact of a delay on her right to obtain legal counsel.

Kirkland said he knew the high profile case would end up in court.

But he said he didn’t raise the issue of possible Charter of Rights and Freedoms violations out loud. And no one else among the RCMP and CBSA officers who were present said the word “Charter.”

Two weeks have been set aside in February 2021 for arguments about the record of the case and the alleged violation of Meng’s rights at the time of her arrest.

The third defence claim relates to allegations that U.S. President Donald Trump has politicized the case by threatening to use Meng as a bargaining chip to get a better deal with China.

Holmes noted in her ruling that if any one of those lines of argument were proven, they might not be enough in and of themselves to derail the case, but the cumulative effect of all of them might end in a stay. 

Meng has denied the allegations against her. 

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