New pipe­line talks with First Nations crit­i­cized


Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - DOU­GLAS QUAN in Nanaimo, B.C. MAURA FOR­REST in Ot­tawa

In a drab, win­dow­less room at the Van­cou­ver Is­land Con­fer­ence Cen­tre this week, at the tail end of a weeks-long se­ries of hear­ings that some have called a sham, there was a rare break from the for­mal pro­ceed­ings. Three Na­tional En­ergy Board (NEB) panel mem­bers as­signed to gather oral ev­i­dence from Indige­nous lead­ers about the pos­si­ble ef­fects of ma­rine traf­fic re­lated to the con­tro­ver­sial Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion were asked to as­sem­ble in the mid­dle of the room to watch mem­bers of the nearby Snuney­muxw First Na­tion re-cre­ate a sal­mon-hon­our­ing cer­e­mony.

El­der Gary Man­son, cov­ered head-to-toe in re­galia and his face painted with ochre, de­liv­ered a solemn mono­logue that touched on his love of the ocean, his spir­i­tual con­nec­tion to killer whales and his fears about what could hap­pen in the event of a tanker spill. At one point, he turned to in­tro­duce his young grand­chil­dren and said he was com­pelled to share a phrase in his lan­guage — “thi qwum.”

“Have pity,” he said.

One of the NEB pan­el­lists bowed her head and ap­peared to wipe away a tear.

But this mo­ment of quiet rap­ture and hu­man con­nec­tion was, ac­cord­ing to ob­servers and tran­scripts of pre­vi­ous hear­ings, more the ex­cep­tion than the rule dur­ing three weeks of oral tes­ti­mony that con­cluded Thurs­day. In fact, many par­tici- pants were not shy in telling the NEB panel they had lit­tle faith in the process and feared it was headed for a “pre­de­ter­mined out­come.”

That the hear­ings were hap­pen­ing at all was the re­sult of an Au­gust rul­ing from the Fed­eral Court of Ap­peal which over­turned the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proval of a pipe­line ex­pan­sion that would triple the amount of di­luted bi­tu­men it car­ries from Al­berta to B.C.

The gov­ern­ment had to redo its con­sul­ta­tions with First Nations, the court ruled, be­cause the first round hadn’t been done in a mean­ing­ful way. The court also found the NEB had made a “crit­i­cal er­ror” when it rec­om­mended the gov­ern­ment pro­ceed with the pro­ject with­out tak­ing into ac­count its pos­si­ble im­pact on the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment.

As part of its re­sponse, the gov­ern­ment told the NEB to draw up a new re­port with a fo­cus on the im­pact of in­creased tanker traf­fic, par­tic­u­larly the south­ern res­i­dent killer whale and other species at risk. It set a dead­line of Feb. 22, 2019. And so the NEB panel held meet­ings in Cal­gary, Vic­to­ria and Nanaimo to hear oral tra­di­tional ev­i­dence from Indige­nous lead­ers.

Cana­dian of­fi­cials, based on a pro­vi­sional ar­rest war­rant that was is­sued by a New York state judge in Au­gust, took her into cus­tody.

Gibb-cars­ley said that at the heart of the al­le­ga­tions against Huawei and Meng is that be­tween 2009 and 2014, the com­pany used a sub­sidiary named Sky­com to do busi­ness in Iran with an Ira­nian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany, in vi­o­la­tion of U.S. sanc­tions against trade with Iran.

When a Reuters wire agency story was pub­lished in 2013 de­scrib­ing how Huawei con­trolled Sky­com and that Sky­com had at­tempted to send U.s.-man­u­fac­tured com­puter equip­ment into Iran in vi­o­la­tion of the sanc­tions, sev­eral banks in­volved in the case asked Huawei whether the al­le­ga­tions were true.

Meng then made mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the banks in a form of “dam­age control” to the news agency’s ar­ti­cle, Gibb-cars­ley al­leged.

The ac­tions of Meng put the banks in­volved at se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial risk, he said.

“Sky­com was Huawei. This is the al­leged fraud,” said Gibb-cars­ley. “Sky­com em­ploy­ees were Huawei em­ploy­ees.”

None of the al­le­ga­tions have been proven in court.

Gibb-cars­ley told the judge that while Meng va­ca­tions in Van­cou­ver and has two “very ex­pen­sive” homes in Van­cou­ver, there’s no real con­nec­tion with Canada.

David Martin, a lawyer for Meng, told the judge that the fact that a per­son has worked hard and has re­sources should not be grounds to deny bail.

He noted that both Van­cou­ver prop­er­ties — worth a to­tal of $14 mil­lion — would be avail­able to put up for bail.

Meng would not breach bail be­cause to do so would hu­mil­i­ate her fa­ther whom she loves, said Martin.

Her fa­ther, Ren Zhengfei, is a for­mer Chi­nese army in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer. His com­pany, Huawei, is the most pres­ti­gious tech com­pany in China.

“You can trust her,” said Martin.

As for the al­le­ga­tions against Meng, Martin said no ev­i­dence of fraud could be made out against his client, call­ing the Crown’s case a “skele­tal” de­scrip­tion of li­a­bil­ity. He called the U.S. al­le­ga­tions “pre­pos­ter­ous.”

He said one of the glar­ing de­fi­cien­cies in the al­le­ga­tions is that the sum­mary of the case doesn’t dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween time pe­ri­ods. Martin said at the meet­ing Meng had with a bank that was re­ferred to in a story by Reuters, she ex­plained Huawei owned Sky­com for a pe­riod of time but it sold the com­pany in 2009. Martin told the court the Pow­erpoint pre­sen­ta­tion his client de­liv­ered to the bank is sup­posed to be ev­i­dence of fraud, but that claim is “pre­pos­ter­ous.”

Huawei sold Sky­com be­fore the sanc­tions be­came law in the United States un­der pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2010, he said.

The de­fence lawyer em­pha­sized that the com­pany’s mis­sion was to com­ply with ap­pli­ca­ble ex­port laws and reg­u­la­tions.

Huawei is the big­gest global sup­plier of net­work gear used by phone and in­ter­net com­pa­nies.


Mike Wyse, chief of the Snuney­muxw First Na­tion, presents a gift to mem­bers of the Na­tional En­ergy Board panel hold­ing hear­ings on the con­tro­ver­sial Trans Moun­tain pipe­line ex­pan­sion Wed­nes­day in Nanaimo, B.C.


Meng Wanzhou, the chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of Huawei Tech­nolo­gies, at­tends a bail hear­ing at B.C. Supreme Court in Van­cou­ver on Fri­day.


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