Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s appeal to the U.S. to help secure the freedom of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor is “a waste of time” and “doomed to fail,” China’s foreign ministry said Friday.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang delivered the remarks at a media briefing one day after Trudeau urged Washington to delay finalizing a trade deal with China until the detained Canadians have been released.
“If you pull chestnuts out of the fire for others, you will end up being the one getting burned,” Geng said. He wouldn’t clarify whether the comment was a direct threat aimed at Canada.
Trudeau told TVA’s Salut Bonjour program Thursday that his government asked the Trump administration to hit pause on signing a final trade agreement.
The U.S. and China agreed on the first phase of a trade deal on Dec. 13 which includes a reduction in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.
Geng was critical of Canada’s move, warning that it was tantamount to “ganging up on China by forming cliques.”
‘Nothing to add’: PMO
When asked whether the U.S. had made any appeals for Kovrig and Spavor’s release, Geng evaded the question.
“We have said many times before, reaching Phase One serves the interests of China, U.S. and the world,” he said.
Had a very good talk with President Xi of China concerning our giant Trade Deal. China has already started large scale purchaes of agricultural product & more. Formal signing being arranged. Also talked about North Korea, where we are working with China, & Hong Kong (progress!).
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Friday that it had “nothing to add” regarding whether Trudeau had received any kind of commitment from the Trump administration.
“You will recall that the U.S., along with other allies, raised the cases of our detainees both publicly and privately,” the statement says.
Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said that Canada takes instruction from no other country when it comes to foreign policy.
“The only one who [is] going to dictate the foreign policy of Canada is the Government of Canada,” he said in an interview with CBC Radio’s The House, airing Saturday.
‘I hope that Mr. Trump would think twice’: Guy Saint-Jacques
According to former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques, it would be in the Trump administration’s best interest to intervene on Canada’s behalf.
“I think they would run the risk of being alone themselves, because countries would say, ‘Why would we help you after what we have seen what you did to the Canadians?'” Saint-Jacques said. “I hope that Mr. Trump would think twice.”
The former ambassador said Trudeau’s request of the U.S. government is in line with Canada’s actions since relations with China began to fray late last year.
“The campaign that Canada has followed since the start of this crisis to seek support from allies … has had success,” he said.
As for China’s comments, Saint-Jacques said that they “reflect the new Chinese diplomatic style, which is more in your face than trying to save face. It shows that the relationship is not very good.”
Kovrig, Spavor now facing trial
Earlier this month, China transferred Spavor and Kovrig’s cases to prosecutorial authorities for investigation and prosecution. The two will now go to trial on charges connected to national security.
Kovrig’s case is related to allegations of “covertly gathering state secrets and intelligence for foreign sources,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Dec. 10.
Spavor’s case involves allegations of “stealing and illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces.”
Kovrig and Spavor have been detained for more than a year. They were taken by Chinese authorities days after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada at the request of the U.S.
The federal government said the men only have limited access to consular assistance and have not had contact with lawyers or family members.
House ethics committee begins second day of hearings into RCMP use of spyware
OTTAWA — The director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab says spyware is “like a wiretap on steroids,” and it requires more oversight and a much higher threshold for use than traditional wiretaps.
Ron Diebert will speak to the House of Commons ethics committee as part of its probe into the RCMP’s use of spyware in 32 investigations in the last five years.
In prepared remarks provided to The Canadian Press, Diebert says what he calls the “mercenary spyware industry” is poorly regulated and associated with widespread abuses.
He says the industry is a threat to civil society, human rights and democracy and governments should be transparent about procurement of this technology.
Yesterday, senior officers told the committee the RCMP does not use the controversial Pegasus spyware, but refused to disclose details about the technology it is using, citing national security concerns.
The RCMP also says while the technology is new, the invasion of privacy on a digital device is similar to what police have done for years through wiretapping and installing surveillance cameras.
Federal privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresne told the committee the Mounties didn’t notify his office before starting to use the technology, and he learned about it through the media.
He’s called on MPs to make changes to privacy legislation that would require government departments and organizations to launch privacy impact assessments whenever new technology is introduced that could have an impact on the “fundamental right to privacy.”
Dufresne’s predecessor Daniel Therrien will also appear before the committee today, along with the president of the Privacy and Access Council of Canada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Dawn Walker: Sask. woman facing charges in U.S., Canada – CTV News
Federal prosecutors in the United States have accused a Saskatoon woman of faking her own death and that of her son in what they describe as an elaborate scheme to illegally enter the country.
Kevin Sonoff, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon, says 48-year-old Dawn Marie Walker is being detained as a flight risk as she faces two charges related to identity theft.
Walker was reported missing with her seven-year-old son last month. Police discovered them “safe and well” in a rental unit in Oregon City on Friday, following two weeks of search-and-rescue efforts that included scouring the South Saskatchewan River and its banks, where her pickup truck was abandoned.
Court documents filed Monday in Oregon allege Walker “went through extreme efforts to steal identities for her and her son that allowed them to unlawfully enter the United States and hide.”
The documents allege she “thoughtfully planned and engaged in an elaborate ruse in which she faked her death and that of her son.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has charged her with the felony offence of knowingly producing a passport of another person and a misdemeanour charge of possessing identification that was stolen or produced illegally.
The felony charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison if found guilty, while the misdemeanour charge carries up to six months’ imprisonment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Saskatoon police said they have charged Walker with public mischief and parental abduction in contravention of a custody order, and are looking to extradite her back to Canada.
The boy was returned to Canada on Sunday after a legal guardian picked him up, police said.
Saskatoon police said they began searching for Walker and her son on July 24 after friends reported them missing.
Her red Ford F-150 truck had been found at Chief Whitecap Park, just south of Saskatoon, along with some of her belongings.
The court documents allege Walker took the identities of a colleague and that colleague’s child to open a bank account, and she bought an SUV and drove across the border on July 23. Saskatoon police said she crossed the border south of Lethbridge, Alta., into Montana.
An affidavit from Clinton Lindsly, a special agent with Homeland Security, says Walker and her son’s biological father had been engaged in a lengthy custody dispute and she was supposed to return the boy on July 25.
Lindsly says in the document he told Walker, after her arrest, that “people presumed that she and her son died in the river, to which she spontaneously stated, ‘He doesn’t want to be with his father.”‘
The court documents further allege Walker “put a lot of time and effort in planning her crime.”
The documents say officers found a series of notebooks and handwritten notes in Walker’s SUV that included a checklist: dye hair, cover tattoo, pack car, get toys, throw phone in water, ditch car by bridge, possibly buy fishing rod and find the nearest border.
The documents say Walker has no ties to the U.S. and allege she funded her scheme through hidden financial accounts and assets totalling over $100,000.
“The defendant’s kidnapping of her child is extremely serious. While the child has been safely rescued there are no assurances that if the defendant were released she would not try once again to kidnap her child,” say the court documents.
Walker, who remains in custody, is to next appear in court in Oregon on Sept. 7. A defence lawyer believed to be representing Walker could not be reached for comment.
“As the criminal investigation progresses, there may be further charges that Ms. Walker will face as a result,” Saskatoon police Deputy Chief Randy Huisman said Monday.
“Investigators are looking at several different charges, and in relation to the false identity documents that were alluded to, and how she was able to prepare those documents.”
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, where Walker worked as its chief executive officer, had organized a vigil and walks through the park to raise awareness about the disappearance of the woman and her son.
The federation also issued its own Amber Alert for the pair, and asked police to do the same. Police said there wasn’t evidence to suggest they were in imminent danger.
The boy’s family said in a statement Saturday that “over the past two weeks of hell,” all they had wished for was the safe return of Walker and the boy.
“When we found out they were both safe, there was sobbing, laughing, dancing, shouting, throwing of shoes and hugging.”
Walker, who is from Okanese First Nation, is also a well-known author. Her recent book “The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour,” published under the name Dawn Dumont, was named last week as a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 8, 2022.
Hockey Canada dropped non-disclosure agreement with sexual assault complainant – CBC News
Hockey Canada has dropped a non-disclosure agreement with the complainant of a high-profile alleged group sexual assault in 2018 involving eight hockey players including some members of the world junior team, CBC News has learned.
The complainant’s lawyer Rob Talach says Hockey Canada approached his client on July 22 and asked if she wanted to be released from the agreement that prohibited her from publicly disclosing information about the case.
“I give them credit to say that they thought it was only fair in the circumstances of how things were unrolling publicly,” Talach told CBC News in an interview.
The non-disclosure agreement (NDA) was officially withdrawn the day before Hockey Canada’s executives testified before a parliamentary committee on July 27 probing the organization’s handling of the alleged sexual assault case.
Hockey Canada’s president Scott Smith faced questions from MPs about the NDA during the committee. NDP MP Peter Julian called on him to release complainants from them if they want because it perpetuates a “culture of silence” when “victims are silenced.”
“If they wish to eliminate those, unless there is a legal reason not to that I’m aware of, I’m not sure why we wouldn’t,” said Scott when asked if he would withdraw the agreements. “Our priority is to support the victims.”
Smith told the committee last month that Hockey Canada reached out proactively to Talach after “media reports were representing comments on behalf of players” and “suggested she should be given the right to respond to the events of the evening as well.” Hockey Canada shared Talach’s response privately with MPs, but did not disclose it publicly.
NDAs used in other settlements
During the committee it was revealed that non-disclosure agreements were also used in other settlements involving sexual assault allegations, according to Hockey Canada’s former VP of risk management Glen McCurdie.
On top of the 2018 case, Hockey Canada has paid $8.9 million to 21 complainants since 1989.
Hockey Canada clarified on Monday that non-disclosure agreements were not used in every single settlement.
“In some cases, the only confidentiality terms concerned the amount of the settlement, which is commonly included in almost every settlement of every claim in Canada, including sexual abuse claims…,” wrote Hockey Canada in a statement to CBC News.
The Hockey Canada controversy has put a new spotlight on the issue of NDAs, which are common in settling lawsuits. There are mounting calls by some advocates to ban them in cases related to sexual assault.
P.E.I became the first province in May to limit the use of the agreements in cases to stop silencing victims of harassment and sexual misconduct. Some legal experts and legislators argue NDAs protect institutions and perpetrators and drive allegations underground allowing the culture problems to continue.
Hockey Canada is in the midst of a crisis as it deals with public outrage over its handling of sexual assault claims and use of a special fund — in part made up of registration fees — to pay for legal settlements. Sponsors have dropped support, the NHL is investigating and police have opened a new investigation into a separate 2003 group sexual assault case.
The public controversy started after Talach’s client’s filed $3.5-million lawsuit in April that said in 2018, eight hockey players including members of Canada’s world junior team sexually assaulted, humiliated and degraded her at a hotel room in London, Ont.
The statement of claim, which has not been proven in court, said the hockey players brought golf clubs to the hotel room to further intimidate her, directed the woman to shower after the sexual assault and told her to say she was sober while they videotaped a consent video.
Complainant feared adding to ‘public spectacle’
Hockey Canada’s board of directors authorized the maximum amount of the $3.5-million lawsuit to be paid out, according to testimony at the parliamentary committee.
Talach revealed new details to CBC News on Monday about his client’s non-disclosure agreement. He said the agreement contained a “communication plan” that gave his client some “flexibility to say what she wanted to say.” The agreement allowed Talach to make a written statement consistent with her wishes.
“She didn’t really want to be part of the media and she doesn’t want to add to this debate publicly,” Talach told CBC News.
He said the non-disclosure agreement was mutually sought because his client from the beginning was “adamant” that she didn’t want to “add to a public spectacle.” He said his client also chose not to name the hockey players involved in her lawsuit.
Talach said there is no legal non-disclosure agreements that would prevent a complainant from reporting sexual offences to police.
“You can’t buy your way out of a criminal investigation,” he said. “Nor can a NDA prevent discussing the incident when seeking medical, counselling or financial advice. Those are typical exceptions.”
No other requests to be released
The complainant at the centre of the case spoke out publicly for the first time last week to the Globe and Mail and said she felt “vulnerable and exposed” since May when her allegations went public.
The woman wanted to set the record straight about information that continued to be reported in the media about her case that was inaccurate, said Talach.
Talach said in a statement last week that his client has fully co-operated at all times with a police investigation into her case, despite Hockey Canada originally saying she didn’t.
CBC News asked Hockey Canada if any complainants have come forward and asked for their non-disclosure agreement to be withdrawn since executives testified last month.
Hockey Canada said since July 27, “no complainant who received settlements have asked to be released from any confidentiality terms in their settlement agreements.”
“As previously noted, if requested Hockey Canada would work with victims to support their wishes,” said Hockey Canada in a statement.
Have a story or news tip about the Hockey Canada scandal? Confidentially email firstname.lastname@example.org
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