New pipeline talks with First Nations criticized
AT NEW FIRST NATIONS TALKS ON TRANS MOUNTAIN PIPELINE, MANY BELIEVE THE FIX IS IN
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.