Jerome Beaugrand-Champagne is the Li Ka Shing visiting professor of practice, faculty of Law, McGill University.
The Chinese government is lashing out at Canada after the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on Saturday in Vancouver. Ms. Meng, a top executive of one of the largest telecommunication companies in China, faces extradition to the United States for allegedly violating the American embargo on Iran.
China is calling for the immediate release of Ms. Meng and the protection of her human rights.
What the Chinese government must have forgotten is that Canada, in addition to supporting the principles outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has ratified seven UN human-rights treaties and is consistently ranked very highly by various human-rights groups, despite not being perfect.
Moreover, the Canada Border Services Agency, even without a Sino-Canadian extradition treaty, expelled more than 1,386 Chinese individuals over the last three years to China, according to agency statistics.
As the trade war between China and the United States seems to have reached a moment of détente, one may think that the request for the deportation of Ms. Meng is another negotiating ploy by the White House. This may be as palpitating as a John Le Carré novel, but the issue at hand is the Chinese Embassy’s protest to Canada that Ms. Meng’s arrest violated her human rights.
Despite the fact that the arrest warrant of Ms. Meng has not been made public, we can be sure that the process of her extradition will follow a vigorous three-step legal process, as defined by the Canadian Extradition Act of 1999.
It is worth noting that Canada’s first extradition treaty with the United States was created when British Canada signed the Jay Treaty in 1794, and that the Treaty on Extradition between the governments of Canada and the United States has been in effect since 1974. As such, both countries have perfected their procedures regarding extradition to each other’s country.
Ms. Meng will face an extradition hearing in front of a judge of the Superior Court of Justice, who will satisfy himself/herself with respect to the issue of “dual criminality.” Furthermore, the judge will consider whether the evidence establishes a prima facie case that the extradition crime has been committed. A prima facie case justifies an applicant’s committal for trial if his/her conduct has taken place in Canada. The traditional criminal-law threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt” doesn’t apply in such a hearing. At the end of the extradition hearing, the judge must either discharge Ms. Meng or order her committal to the minister of justice.
If the extradition judge orders committal, the minister of justice must consider whether to order her surrender to the American authorities. Ms. Meng will then have an opportunity to make submissions to the minister. The latter may refuse to make a surrender order in a specific case such as, for example, the surrender would be unjust or oppressive. In the event of surrender to the American authorities, Ms. Meng will be afforded due-process protection, and she will no doubt have sufficient funds to hire the best defence attorneys. She can rest assured that American judges are independent and do not bow to anyone, as they might in other countries.
The Chinese government and the family of Ms. Meng should also take note that despite our young history as a nation, Canada has a long-standing history of upholding the rule of law and respecting its international human-rights obligations.
While the Chinese government may be furious with Canada, such a response may be premature and unwarranted, as it’s the United States that has charged Ms. Meng. We should all wait and see what comes of this case and have faith in our independent Canadian judiciary system.