On the same day Mr. Gerald Butts, former principal secretary of PMO testifies before the House Justice Committee over SNC-Lavalin affair in Ottawa, the extradition hearing of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s senior executive, took place in Vancouver. The two different companies -- one being a China’s telecommunication behemoth, and the other an engineering and construction flagship in Canada – involve in totally unrelated business activities. However, their fates have deeply entwined over Canada’s judiciary independence.
Are the two companies treated equally under Canada’s rule of law and has the judiciary independence been applied to both? If the Liberal government politically interfered the criminal trial of SNC, why didn’t it interfere on behalf of Huawei after Beijing demanded with threats? Has Ottawa lost the high moral ground it claimed over Huawei crisis by pressuring former Attorney General over SNC?
China, of course, would seek Meng’s release by exploiting Canada’s SNC scandal and seize the opportunity to attack Canada’s rule of law assertion. China’s Foreign Ministry accused Canada of adopting double standards in defending its constitutional principle, challenging Trudeau for being a hypocrite for failing to intervene over Meng’s release. How Canada has handled the two cases has drawn the attention of people from all over the world, says the Ministry spokesperson. In Beijing’s view, the SNC scandal has significantly weakened Ottawa’s claim that there has been no interference or political element to the decision of arresting Meng.
SNC might also become Meng’s legal defense team’s powerful weapon in Meng’s extradition hearing. Her extradition request might be turned down by court judge if her defense lawyers can prove that the US or the Canadian legal process is subject to political influence. The SNC scandal has only bolstered the arguments of her defense that Meng’s case is highly politicalized, motivated by the political agenda of Washington or Ottawa.
However, there is a silver lining to the SNC scandal that has tainted Trudeau government. It has revealed the robust of Canada’s democracy and resilient defense of its rule of law system. The public exposure of the scandal by a vibrant free press, the testimonies of those involved before the justice committee, the daily grilling of the party leader in front of cameras, and the imminent threat to bring down the ruling party, are all unimaginable events in China under an authoritarian government and a permeant president of Xi.
The public uproar ensued after the scandal exposed has revealed Canadians’ strong belief in the rule of law. Wilson Ray-Bould testimony at the Justice Committee demonstrated her defiant character in protecting constitutional independence. At the end of the day, there is no direct intervention in SNC criminal prosecution. The case is proceeding, despite the pressure from Trudeau and his entourage.
If SNC affair is an international embarrassment for Canada, Huawei’s case provided Ottawa an opportunity to redeem itself and to show to the world that it has learned a lesson from its mistakes. It will not be pushed around by China, a country that runs afoul of Western democracy and disregards of the rule of law. Ottawa now must prove to his voters that to defend the deeply entrenched democratic values, it will not politically bend its justice system to the benefit of Huawei or the interest of SNC.
And Canadians will ensure that both Huawei and SNC will be put under an independent justice lens.
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