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Biden may change Canadian relations with Huawei

Wanzhou remains under house arrest in Vancouver, but Donald Trump no longer remains in office. Ian Lee, professor at Carleton University, said that makes the release of Wanzhou at least possible.

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The change in American presidential leadership may influence Canadian foreign relations and its treatment of Huawei, experts say.

Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on December 1, 2018 following an extradition request from U.S. officials who alleged she violated sanctions on doing business with Iran. Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China days later and were charged with espionage in 2020.

Wanzhou remains under house arrest in Vancouver, but Donald Trump no longer remains in office. Ian Lee, professor at Carleton University, said that makes the release of Wanzhou at least possible.

“Trump was the one who was really, really pushing back against China. And as a consequence, it’s been speculated, and I don’t think it’s far-fetched, that Biden could advise Canada that they have dropped the charges asking for her extradition,” Lee said in an interview.

“They’ve publicly talked about resetting the relationship with China and with Iran and elsewhere, so there is a mood of change, if I can call it that in the Biden White House, that we want to do things differently from what Trump did.”

Lee said Canada was “derivative actor” in the arrest and detention of Wanzhou, which occurred on request of the Trump administration.

“We are holding her at the request of our ally and partner the United States and because we have a treaty with the States,” Lee said.

“But if the United States says to Canada we have decided to withdraw or drop the charges…that would solve the Meng issue and it would also remove one of the biggest irritants in US-China relations,” said Lee, who said he expects the issue will be resolved this year.

Rob Huebert, professor of political science at the University of Calgary, said “we will have to wait and see” what Biden does.

“For all of Trump’s bluster about anti-China and all the rest, remember the Trump administration refused to help Canada get its two Michaels released,” Huebert said in an interview. “There wasn’t a lot of help that we got on the China file from Trump, so anything Biden is going to do is going to be better.”

Huebert believes Canada will remain hard-pressed to grant Huawei permission to put up 5G networks in the country because the other Allies in the ‘five eyes’ of intelligence sharing — the US, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.K., are still opposed.

“The New Zealands are in lockstep with the Australians, and now subsequently the Brits, on their evaluation of the danger of Huawei for the 5G system, so I think that this pressure is eventually going to bear on Canada. It’s just, how do you buck that?” Huebert asks.

The larger context of Canada’s engagement with China may change indirectly due to a different American stance towards NATO. Huebert believes Trump’s call for NATO allies to increase military spending was fine, but his lukewarm stance towards the alliance was a “real danger.”

In May of 2017, Trump backed away from NATO’s Article 5 which says that an attack on one Ally will be considered an attack on all. One month later, he supported the idea in an impromptu comment at a press conference, but in July of that year said he would only aid NATO allies if they would “fulfill their obligations.”

Threats from the Pacific have also increased as both China and Russia have substantially increased military spending over the past 20 years.

“There are those factions that want to see the western alliance system disrupted, weakened, and I think that there is plenty of evidence to point to both the Russians and Chinese on this issue,” Huebert said.

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BoC spokesman: ‘I deny I said what I said’

Management disclosed the blacklist last Friday moments before the start of a routine videoconference for news media.

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They may have said it on a Zoom call, but Bank of Canada managers are now denying they have a media enemies list, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Bank Governor Tiff Macklem’s director of communications Paul Badertscher in an email denied blacklisting Blacklock’s despite telling a deputy governor in an audio tape: “I do not want to be in a situation where we are allowing Blacklock’s to be asking us. So, yes, that’s where we’re at.”

“The Bank of Canada welcomes all accredited media outlets to its briefing sessions and ensures equal opportunity to ask questions as time permits,” Badertscher wrote in his Monday e-mail.

A deputy bank governor who attended the Zoom call did not comment.

“We have nothing further to add,” said Jeremy Harrison, managing director of communications for Canada’s central bank.

Management disclosed the blacklist last Friday moments before the start of a routine videoconference for news media. Blacklock’s dialed into the Zoom call and began recording the session for notetaking purposes.

Badertscher was overheard explaining to a deputy bank governor that media were given different treatment depending on who they were.

“I know who’s who,” said Badertscher.

“There’s a couple here who I absolutely — I’ll check the list to make sure he’s not listening — absolutely not keen to give questions to. I do not want to be in a situation where we are allowing Blacklock’s to be asking us. So, yes, that’s where we’re at”:

  • Unidentified man: “Paul, I think we have a journalist on the line with us right now.”
  • Badertscher: “We do. I have got to get you to drop. I’ll call you at 10:30, okay?”
  • Unidentified man: “Sure, thanks.”
  • Badertscher: “Thanks man. And I’d ask people, don’t let any, don’t admit people please. Let me do all the admitting, okay? Because I know who’s who.”

Badertscher would not name other outlets blacklisted from questioning Bank of Canada officials.

The blacklist follows repeated statements from cabinet commemorating World Press Freedom Day.

“We recognize how important it is to support our strong, independent media and to encourage journalists to continue to hold those in power, here and all around the world, to account,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Commons in 2018.

“Independent, fact-based reporting is vital,” Trudeau said in 2019.

“Media play an essential role in defending and advancing the truth,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in her 2018 World Press Freedom Day observance.

“We remind ourselves that without a free and independent press we all lose.”

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Madu out as justice minister

“I have spoken with Minister Madu about the March 10 incident reported in the media today. I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police Chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation.”

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has removed Justice Minister Kaycee Madu from his job after he called Edmonton’s police chief about a distracted parking ticket he received.

Madu was fined $300 on March 10, 2021 after an Edmonton police officer caught him talking on his cellphone while driving through a playground zone.

Madu soon phoned Dale McFee, the city’s chief of police, and discussed the ticket with him. 

“Minister Madu did contact me via the telephone concerned about a ticket. But just to be very, very clear, he never asked to get out of the ticket,” McFee told CBC News in December, adding he didn’t know exactly what was on the ticket.

“Everybody has to wear their decisions.”

McFee did say during their discussion, Madu brought up the issue of racial profiling by police to stop drivers. Madu is black.

“The officer indicated that he had observed me driving while distracted, alleging that I was on my phone. I disagreed, stating that I was not on my phone, as it was in an inside pocket” said Madu.

“Later, I spoke to Chief Dale McFee. Due to the timing of the incident, I wanted to ensure that I was not being unlawfully surveilled following the controversy surrounding the Lethbridge Police Service. I also raised concerns around profiling of racial minorities that was in the media at the time.

“Chief McFee assured me that that was most definitely not the case, and I accepted him at his word.”

But that wasn’t good enough for Kenney who, after CBC broke the story, removed him from his post because it is “essential the independent administration of justice is maintained.

“I have spoken with Minister Madu about the March 10 incident reported in the media today. I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police Chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation,” Kenney tweeted.

“Minister Madu told me that he did not ask to have the ticket rescinded, nor was it his intention to interfere in the case, and that he promptly paid the ticket. I understand that Chief McFee has confirmed that at no time did the Minister seek to have the ticket rescinded.

“Nevertheless, it’s essential the independent administration of justice is maintained. That’s why I will appoint a respected independent investigator to review the relevant facts and to determine whether there was interference in the administration of justice in this case.”

Energy Minister Sonya Savage will take on the duties of Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

The scandal will be a blow for Kenney as Madu was one of his biggest supporters in an often fractured caucus.

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Home buyers and sellers can now use bitcoin

“This is yet another step towards a bitcoin standard society as we continue to propel bitcoinʼs usability. Our ability to process tens of millions of dollars with ease will allow customers looking to use bitcoin in real estate transactions to transact with confidence.”

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Canadians will soon be able to buy and sell their homes with bitcoin.

Edmonton-based Bitcoin Well announced Tuesday they have signed a deal with Greater Property Group (GPG) where customers use bitcoin and other digital currencies to buy and sell residential and commercial real estate.

The signed letter of intent will see both companies promote the other through their respective websites and real estate transactions involving bitcoin will be conducted through the joint venture.

Bitcoin Well will provide digital currency services and licensing, compliance strategy and required Know Your Customer processes. GPG will provide real estate services, licensing and strategy.

“I canʼt wait to begin working with GPG,” said Adam OʼBrien, founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well.

“This is yet another step towards a bitcoin standard society as we continue to propel bitcoinʼs usability. Our ability to process tens of millions of dollars with ease will allow customers looking to use bitcoin in real estate transactions to transact with confidence.

“Working with GPG is an exciting look at how the bitcoin infrastructure we’ve built can scale. We have the pieces in place to help set the stage to help global industries adopt bitcoin. It’s exciting to see real estate being one of the first.”

Officials with GPG say they welcome the agreement.

“As a brokerage that facilitates buying and selling houses with cryptocurrency, we couldnʼt be happier to be partnering with Bitcoin Well on this venture.” said Nathan Singh, managing partner of Greater Property Group.

“The applications for cryptocurrency in real estate are limitless, and we look forward to bringing that investment power and flexibility to more and more transactions and agents from coast to coast.”

The completion of the joint venture agreement is expected in the first quarter of 2022.

Bitcoin Well is the first publicly traded Bitcoin ATM company in the world and is traded on the TSX.V under the ticker BTCW.V

Publisher’s Note: Bitcoin Well is an advertising client of Western Standard New Media Corp.

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