Former Liberal justice minister, Alan Rock, and former Supreme Court of Canada justice, Louise Arbour, agree - the Trudeau government has the legal authority to set Huawei's Meng Wanzhou free and show her the door.
The result is that two Canadians’ liberty, health and perhaps their lives are at risk in China, without Canada debating the legitimate option of relenting to Chinese pressure and freeing Ms. Meng, Allan Rock and Louise Arbour say.
Canada needs “a full debate based on a legitimate foundation of facts, rather than an incantation of rubrics, like ‘rule of law’ and the ‘independence of the courts’ and the ‘sanctity of the judiciary,‘” Mr. Rock, who was justice minister and attorney-general from 1993 to 1997, said in an interview.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Justice Minister David Lametti say the court process must be allowed to unfold so as not to compromise the independence of Mr. Lametti’s ultimate decision on whether Ms. Meng should be surrendered to the United States for prosecution. In extradition cases, the justice minister first delegates to his officials a decision on whether a case can proceed; a court then holds hearings and decides whether the legal tests for extraditing a suspect have been met; and then the justice minister decides whether to surrender the suspect for trial. The Meng case is partway through the court hearings, and Mr. Rock says it may be 2024 before a judge rules.
Rachel Rappaport, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lametti, said the government’s position is firm. “As this case remains before the courts, and the minister has a direct role in extradition proceedings, it would not be appropriate for us to comment. This has been our position from the beginning.”
Mr. Rock, Ms. Arbour and Vina Nadjibulla sought a legal opinion from Brian Greenspan, a Toronto lawyer with decades of experience in extradition cases, on Mr. Lametti’s authority to withdraw the case. ...Mr. Greenspan wrote a 10-page opinion saying that the Extradition Act has clearly spelled out since 1999 that the justice minister “may at any time withdraw” the government’s support from an extradition case, which triggers a court-ordered release of the extradition subject.The SNC Lavalin Curse - When the Attorney General is also the Justice Minister.
In Canada, one person holds the job of both attorney-general and justice minister. But the Extradition Act, Mr. Greenspan told The Globe, delineates the roles of each. The attorney-general acts on behalf of the requesting country, in this case the United States, in court; and the justice minister decides on Canada’s overall interests, which can include a consideration of international relations and political concerns.
Ms. Arbour said that she cannot understand the Canadian government’s claim that Mr. Lametti lacks the authority to free Ms. Meng right now, because the law is clear “on its face.” The government is “confused again, but the other way around, about the role of the minister of justice and the attorney-general. The dominant role clearly is of the minister of justice, not the attorney-general, who has a small, very visible, very public part to play – that’s the tail that shouldn’t be wagging the dog.”Unfortunately this prime minister and his directing hand, yes you Mr. Butts, lack the skills required in this fiasco. This has become not about Meng, or the "two Michaels," or the rule of law. It is about how it reflects on Justin Trudeau, especially after he so botched the SNC Lavalin issue. And the prime minister would have a lot of explaining to do if he changed course now. People might want to know why, if he had a way out, he left the two Michaels to languish in Chinese jail cells for so long. And Trump is always looking for any excuse to trash Trudeau.