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    ‘Non-starter’: Democrats aren’t buying Trump’s shutdown-ending compromise on ‘Dreamer’ immigrants

    ‘Non-starter’: Democrats aren’t buying Trump’s shutdown-ending compromise on ‘Dreamer’ immigrants


    WASHINGTON — In a bid to break the shutdown stalemate, President Donald Trump offered to extend temporary protections for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children and those fleeing disaster zones in exchange for his long-promised border...

    WASHINGTON — In a bid to break the shutdown stalemate, President Donald Trump offered to extend temporary protections for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children and those fleeing disaster zones in exchange for his long-promised border wall. But while Trump cast the move as a “common-sense compromise,” Democrats were quick to dismiss it as a “non-starter.”

    With polls showing a majority of Americans blaming him and Republicans for the impasse, Trump said from the White House that he was there “to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border.”

    Hoping to put pressure on Democrats, the White House billed the announcement as a major step forward. But Trump did not budge on his $5.7 billion demand for the wall and, in essence, offered to temporarily roll-back some of his own hawkish immigration actions — actions that have been blocked by federal courts.

    Following a week marked by his pointed clashes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it was not clear if Trump’s offer would lead to serious steps to reopen the government, shut for a record 29 days. Trump’s move came as hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without paychecks, with many enduring financial hardship. Many public services are unavailable to Americans during the closure.

    Democrats dismissed Trump’s proposal even before his formal remarks. Pelosi said the expected offer was nothing more than “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives” and that the effort could not pass the House

    “What is original in the President’s proposal is not good. What is good in the proposal is not original,” she later tweeted.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also panned the proposal as “more hostage taking,” saying that it was Trump who had “single-handedly” imperilled the future of the immigrants he proposed to help.

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, speaks to members of the media following a meeting with William Barr, attorney general nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019.

    The New York Democrat said there is only “one way out” of the shutdown. “Open up the government, Mr. President, and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions.” he said.

    Democrats had made their own move late Friday to try to break the impasse when they pledged to provide hundreds of millions of dollars more for border security. But Trump, who has yet to acknowledge that offer, laid out his own plan, which officials said had been in the works for days.

    Seeking to cast the plan as a bipartisan way forward, Trump said Saturday he was incorporating ideas from “rank-and-file” Democrats, as top Democrats made clear they had not been consulted. He also said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would bring the legislation to a vote this week, though Democrats appeared likely to block it. McConnell had previously stated that no vote should be held in the Senate until Trump and Democrats agreed on a bill.

    Trump’s plan seems to stand little chance of getting the 60 votes needed in the Senate. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat the White House has looked to as a possible partner on immigration negotiations, said he will not support it. And Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, another key centrist, said she would study the details of the plan but did not commit to vote for it.

    She added of the shutdown: “This needs to end now.”

    Trump’s remarks from the Diplomatic Room marked the second time he has addressed the nation as the partial shutdown drags on. On this occasion, he sought to strike a diplomatic tone, emphasizing the need to work across the aisle. He maintained a border barrier was needed to block what he describes as the flow of drugs and crime into the country — but described “steel barriers in high-priority locations” instead of “a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea.”

    The proposal was met with immediate criticism from some conservative corners, including NumbersUSA, which seeks to reduce both legal and illegal immigration to the U.S. “The offer the President announced today is a loser for the forgotten American workers who were central to his campaign promises,” said Roy Beck, the group’s president.

    At the other end of the political spectrum, Trump’s offer was panned by progressive groups, with Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, calling it a “one-sided proposal.”

    Trump embraced the shutdown in December in large part because of angry warnings from his most ardent supporters that he was passing up on his last, best shot to build the wall before Democrat took control of the House in the new year. After his announcement Saturday, some supporters appeared unhappy with his effort to bridge the divide with Democrats.

    People visit an overview of the skyline of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on January 19, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.

    “Trump proposes amnesty,” tweeted conservative firebrand Ann Coulter. “We voted for Trump and got Jeb!” she said, in a reference to Trump’s 2016 rival, Jeb Bush.

    In a briefing with reporters, Vice-President Mike Pence defended the proposal from criticism from the right. “This is not an amnesty bill,” he insisted.

    White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also sought to increase the pressure on congressional Democrats in advance of Tuesday, the deadline for the next federal pay period and the day officials said McConnell would begin to move on legislation.

    “If the bill is filibustered on Tuesday…people will not get paid,” he said.

    Mulvaney said that Trump had not ruled out one day declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress to get his wall money — as he has threatened — but added that Trump maintains that the “best way to fix this is through legislation.”

    Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide, Jared Kushner, along with Vice-President Mike Pence, had led the efforts build the plan Trump announced on Saturday, according to three people familiar with White House thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly. After a heated meeting with Pelosi and Schumer that Trump stormed out of, the president directed his aides to bypass Democratic leaders and instead reach out to rank-and-file members for ideas.

    U.S. shutdown battle gets bizarre as Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip after she seeks State of Union delay Trump orders thousands back to work without pay to blunt shutdown disruption Short-staffed due to shutdown, Trump treats college football champs to fast-food feast at White House

    To ensure wall funding, Trump said he would extend temporary protections for three years for “Dreamers,” young people brought to the country illegally as children. Administration officials said the protections would apply only to the approximately 700,000 people currently enrolled in the Obama-era program shielding them from deportation, and not all those who could be eligible. The plan would offer no pathway to citizenship for those immigrants — a deal breaker for many Democrats.

    Trump also proposed a three-year extension to the temporary protected status the U.S. offers to immigrants fleeing countries affected by natural disasters or violence. Officials said the exemption would apply to about 300,000 people who currently live in the U.S. under the program and have been here since 2011. That means people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti — countries that saw the status revoked since Trump took office — would get a reprieve.

    Democrats, however, criticized Trump’s proposal for failing to offer a permanent solution for the immigrants in question and because he refuses back away from his demand a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which the party strongly opposes. Democrats have told Trump he must reopen government before talks can start.

    Trump had repeatedly dismissed the idea of a deal involving Dreamers in recent weeks, saying he would prefer to see first whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, survived a court challenge.

    On Friday, the Supreme Court took no action on the Trump administration’s request to decide by early summer whether Trump’s bid to end that program was legal, meaning it probably will survive at least another year.

    But during a recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump hinted at the possibility, saying he would consider working on the wall and DACA “simultaneously.”

    A previous attempt to reach a compromise that addressed the status of “Dreamers” broke down a year ago as a result of escalating White House demands.

    — Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Matthew Daly in Washington and Colleen Long in Brooklyn, New York, contributed to this report

    Former Olympian Humphries files harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada

    Former Olympian Humphries files harassment complaint with Bobsleigh Canada


    CALGARY — The national governing body for bobsleigh and skeleton has confirmed that former Olympian Kaillie Humphries has filed a harassment complaint with the organization. A spokesperson for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton tells The Canadian Press that it...

    CALGARY — The national governing body for bobsleigh and skeleton has confirmed that former Olympian Kaillie Humphries has filed a harassment complaint with the organization.

    A spokesperson for Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton tells The Canadian Press that it has forwarded the complaint to an “independent investigator.”

    Humphries stepped away from competition in October before the World Cup season began.

    In an interview with the CBC released on Saturday, she said that the break was because of an ongoing harassment investigation.

    The Calgary native has competed at three Olympics, winning gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games and the 2014 Sochi Games in the two-woman bobsleigh.

    She also took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in the same event.

    “Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton abides by its harassment and discrimination policy that has been in place since 2006…. Under that policy, Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton has forwarded the complaint to an independent investigator,” spokesman Chris Dornan told The Canadian Press in an email.

    “We take any allegations of this nature very seriously. A safe training and competitive environment for everyone involved in our sport is Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s number one priority. This is a highly confidential case. Out of respect to all parties involved, and the process, we will not be commenting further on this matter until the investigation is complete.”

    In September 2014, bobsleigh’s world governing body announced that it would allow mixed-gender crews to compete in the four-man event. In November of that year, Humphries piloted a mixed-gender team to the bronze medal in the Canadian four-man bobsleigh championships.

    She and Elana Meyers of the United States became the first women to compete in a men’s international competition later that month.

    Merkel warns EU compromise is needed to avert harmful Brexit

    Merkel warns EU compromise is needed to avert harmful Brexit


    German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to work until the “last day” to ensure an orderly Brexit and signaled that responsibility for a successful withdrawal doesn’t lie solely with Theresa May. Merkel’s comments suggest an opening after the U.K....

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to work until the “last day” to ensure an orderly Brexit and signaled that responsibility for a successful withdrawal doesn’t lie solely with Theresa May.

    Merkel’s comments suggest an opening after the U.K. prime minister made a round of phone calls to other EU leaders, including Merkel, in the days after she suffered a landslide parliamentary defeat of her withdrawal deal this week.

    Addressing a regional party event, Merkel framed Brexit as a historic test of the European Union’s ability to withstand crises.

    “We also have a responsibility to shape this separation process in a responsible way, so that people don’t look back in 50 years, shaking their heads, and say we weren’t in position to make a compromise,” Merkel said Saturday in the Baltic port city of Rostock.

    Jeremy Corbyn: The man who would be prime minister — but doesn't have a Brexit plan Brexit vote: Theresa May's leadership under siege after deal voted down 432 to 202

    With the U.K. premier due to unveil a fresh Brexit plan on Monday, EU leaders and diplomats have said they’ll wait to assess May’s next move.

    A disorderly Brexit would be “the worst solution” and Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union wouldn’t prevent the U.K. from staying in the EU, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who succeeded Merkel as party chairwoman in December, was quoted as saying by Le Monde.

    Seeking order

    With 10 weeks before a March 29 date for the exit and a no-deal divorce ever more in view, Merkel said the turmoil showed how difficult the exit process had become.

    “Let me say emphatically, I will work until the last day to ensure that we have a settled solution for the U.K.’s exit,” Merkel told a regional party conference in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which includes her electoral district.

    Speculation has grown that May’s government may seek an extension of the Brexit process under Article 50 of the EU treaty. By the end of the week, May was sticking to her demands of EU leaders.

    Earlier, May phoned Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar.

    Staying close

    Merkel reiterated that the EU and Britain must remain close allies after the divorce, citing global challenges including nationalism and competition by China.

    “The U.K. is a part of Europe,” Merkel said in the speech. “We’re bound together by a wonderful cooperation on all kinds of domestic security questions. The U.K. has to be a close partner in the future.”

     

    Gloomy forecast for Davos: crises aplenty, but few world leaders plan to attend

    Gloomy forecast for Davos: crises aplenty, but few world leaders plan to attend


    MILAN  — An array of crises will keep several world leaders away from the annual World Economic Forum in Davos next week, which takes place against a backdrop of deepening gloom over the global economic and political outlook. Anxieties over trade...

    MILAN  — An array of crises will keep several world leaders away from the annual World Economic Forum in Davos next week, which takes place against a backdrop of deepening gloom over the global economic and political outlook.

    Anxieties over trade disputes, fractious international relations, Brexit and a growth slowdown that some fear could tip the world economy into recession are set to dominate the Jan. 22-25 Alpine meeting.

    The WEF’s own Global Risks Report set the tone this week with a stark warning of looming economic headwinds, in part because of geopolitical tensions among major powers.

    Some 3,000 business, government and civil society figures are due to gather in the snow-blanketed ski resort, but among them are only three leaders of the Group of Seven most industrialized countries: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte.

    Donald Trump, who stole the Davos limelight last year with a rare appearance by a sitting U.S. president, pulled out of this year’s event as he grapples with a partial U.S. government shutdown.

    On Thursday, the White House said Trump had also canceled his delegation’s trip to Davos because of the shutdown, now in its 27th day. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been expected to lead the U.S. team, according to two senior administration officials.

    French President Emmanuel Macron is also skipping the meeting as he seeks to respond to the “yellow vest” protests, while British Prime Minister Theresa May battles to find a consensus on Brexit.

    Outside the G7, the leaders of Russia and India are shunning Davos, while China – whose president, Xi Jinping, was the first Chinese leader to attend the elite gathering in 2017 to offer a vigorous defense of free trade – is sending his deputy instead.

    That will leave the likes of British Finance Minister Philip Hammond, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and a host of central bankers with the task of trying to reassure business chiefs.

    “Davos will be dominated by a high level of anxiety about stock markets, a slowdown in growth and international politics,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Markit.

    “The leadership presence is lower than last year but those who are going … will be seeking to impart a sense of confidence and calm business and investors’ nerves.”

    Revamp

    Before the U.S. cancellation, a Trump administration official had said the U.S. delegation would also discuss the importance of reforming institutions such as the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

    Trump has harshly criticized globalization and questioned U.S. participation in multilateral institutions such as the WTO, calling for a revamp of international trade rules.

    Davos watchers said the absence of so many top leaders this year did not mean the glitzy forum had lost its status as a global stage for top politicians to present their agendas.

    “Abe is going to Davos not just as Japanese prime minister but also as chair of the G20. It will be a perfect opportunity to lay the groundwork of upcoming G20 meetings,” said a Japanese government source familiar with international affairs.

    “Of course there may be inconveniences such as missing opportunities to hold bilateral meetings, but that won’t undermine the importance of Davos,” he said.

    A Chinese official who has attended Davos regularly but will not go this year said China had never expected to make progress at the meeting on the trade dispute with the United States. “It’s just an occasion for making a policy statement,” he said.

    The low turnout among major Western leaders may also give more prominence to political personalities who may otherwise be upstaged. Davos will be the first major international outing for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, elected on a wave of anti-establishment and conservative nationalism also seen elsewhere.

    He said on Twitter he would present “a different Brazil, free of ideological ties and widespread corruption.”

    For business chiefs, the value of Davos lies not so much in the public sessions but in the networking and dealmaking opportunities on the sidelines of the main conference.

    “It’s the best place to pitch for ideas, build connections and get your brand known,” said Chen Linchevski, chief executive of Precognize, an Israel-based start-up developing software that prevents technical or quality failures at manufacturing plants. “It’s the kind of place where in a few days you meet people you wouldn’t easily meet otherwise,” said Linchevski, who is paying 50,000 Swiss francs (US$50,495) to attend the event.

    ‘I’ve been robbed by the state:’ Zimbabwe, in chaos, mourns

    ‘I’ve been robbed by the state:’ Zimbabwe, in chaos, mourns


    HARARE, Zimbabwe — Before the family of Kelvin Tinashe Choto knew he had been killed, social media in Zimbabwe was circulating a photo of his battered body lying on the reception counter of a local police station. Angry protesters had left him...

    HARARE, Zimbabwe — Before the family of Kelvin Tinashe Choto knew he had been killed, social media in Zimbabwe was circulating a photo of his battered body lying on the reception counter of a local police station. Angry protesters had left him there.

    The 22-year-old was shot in the head, one of at least a dozen people killed since Monday in a violent crackdown by security forces on protests against a dramatic increase in fuel prices.

    Dozens of Zimbabweans have been shot. Others say they have been hunted down in their homes at night, with soldiers and masked people in plainclothes dragging them away, severely beating them and leaving them for dead.

    Some are activists and labour leaders. Others, like Choto, have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. A captain at a small soccer club in Chitungwiza, a town southeast of the capital, Harare, he had been planning to travel to neighbouring South Africa next week to look for better-paying teams.

    “He was our future,” said his father, Julius Choto, as the family buried him on Saturday. Teammates chanted the team’s war cry, handed the family his jersey and carried his coffin. “He was disciplined, respectable and nonviolent. All he cared for was his football. He was a very good footballer.”

    His son had been watching the protests from a soccer field, “some meters away from the action,” on Tuesday when he was gunned down.

    “Maybe they thought he was an (opposition) activist since he was wearing a red Manchester United jersey,” his father told The Associated Press.

    The family only discovered his body the following morning at a local mortuary.

    “I have been robbed,” his father said, crying. “He was my only son and his future was bright. I have been robbed by the state.”

    Such accounts have quickly undermined the faith of many Zimbabweans in the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was briefly cheered when he took over after the ouster of longtime, repressive leader Robert Mugabe in late 2017. Since then, the country’s already staggering economy has weakened even more.

    Growing frustration over rising inflation, a severe currency crisis and fuel lines that stretch for miles finally snapped after Mnangagwa announced a week ago that fuel prices would more than double, making gasoline in Zimbabwe the most expensive in the world.

    Civic leaders called for Zimbabweans to stay at home for three days in protest. Other people took to the streets. Some looted, in desperation or anger. The military was called in, and with Mnangagwa leaving on an extended overseas trip, the hard-line former military commander and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was left in charge. A crackdown began.

    In what critics have called an attempt to cover up abuses, the government in the past few days has imposed internet shutdowns across the country, ordering telecoms to block popular social media apps or everything at once.

    “The internet was a tool that was used to co-ordinate the violence,” presidential spokesman George Charamba asserted on state television Saturday night, referring to protesters.

    The internet shutdowns have given security forces cover to commit violations “away from the glare of the international community,” said Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch.

    The reports of abuses come as Mnangagwa prepares to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, appealing for foreign investment in a country he repeatedly says is “open for business.”

    At one hospital in Harare alone, the waiting room and corridors were packed with victims.

    “They came at the middle of the night, kicking doors and throwing tear gas to force us out. Once they had rounded all up men in the area, they assaulted us using motorbike chains,” one man said.

    Another man with burnt hands said he and others had been forced to put out burning tires with their bare hands. They all spoke condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

    Albert Taurai, who had a broken spine, said he had ventured out to look for bread when he saw a group of plainclothes, armed men approaching.

    They struck people with iron bars on the back, thighs and ankles “so that we would not be able to run away,” he said. The masked men told them: “Zimbabwe will never be shut down.”

    “I am 46 years old,” Taurai said. “I have seen both Mugabe and Mnangagwa. This just is worse than Mugabe.”

    Zimbabwe’s government has defended the response by security forces, and police spokeswoman Charity Charamba on Saturday expressed “grave concern” that people were committing crimes while wearing police or military uniforms. Some of the uniforms had been seized by “rogue elements” during the protests, she said.

    Otherwise, “adequate security” was in place to ensure that people in Zimbabwe go about their lives, army spokesman Overson Mugwisi said. They did not take questions.

    The government blames the unrest on the opposition and calls it “terrorism.”

    The main opposition MDC party, which had contested Mnangagwa’s narrow election win last year in court, “is hoping to influence the international community’s view of Zimbabwe. They are hoping a government of national unity will arise from this. It will not happen,” the deputy information minister, Energy Mutodi, told the AP.

    The leader of that opposition, Nelson Chamisa, attended the funeral of Choto the soccer player on Saturday, to loud cheers.

    The government should compensate the victims of this week’s crackdown, Chamisa said. He said Mnangagwa’s government has turned out to be much like Mugabe’s.

    “This is a sick government, because no serious government will deploy the military and ammunition on ordinary citizens,” he said, Choto’s seven-month-old daughter in his arms.

    Americans face deadline to file paperwork for Huawei executive’s extradition

    Americans face deadline to file paperwork for Huawei executive’s extradition


    OTTAWA — American authorities are facing a key deadline at the end of the month to formally request the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou from Canada to the United States. A spokesman for Canada’s Justice Department said on Friday the U.S....

    OTTAWA — American authorities are facing a key deadline at the end of the month to formally request the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou from Canada to the United States.

    A spokesman for Canada’s Justice Department said on Friday the U.S. had yet to file the required paperwork in the Meng case and they have until Jan. 30 to do so. If the U.S. misses the deadline, lawyers with expertise in extradition cases say the door could open for Meng’s eventual release.

    Canadian police arrested Meng at Vancouver’s airport Dec. 1 at the request of American authorities, who are seeking her extradition on fraud allegations. They say she lied to American banks as part of a scheme to get Huawei business around United States sanctions against Iran.

    Her arrest has infuriated Beijing and the case is at the centre of an increasingly testy diplomatic dispute between Canada and China. The Chinese government says Meng has done nothing wrong and has demanded her release, warning Canada of severe consequences if it doesn’t free her.

    Under Canada’s extradition law, the U.S. was given 60 days from the date of Meng’s arrest to make its formal extradition request.

    “The formal request for extradition (including the supporting documents) has not yet been made by the United States,” Ian McLeod, a spokesman for Canada’s Justice Department, wrote in an email Thursday.

    “They have until Jan. 30, 2019 to submit this request. Canada then has a further 30 days to determine whether to issue an authority to proceed.”

    The U.S. Department of Justice declined to say very much about the Meng case except that it’s not affected by the partial shutdown of the federal government there. Thousands of federal workers have been sent home without pay because of a budget stalemate between Congress and President Donald Trump.

    Under house arrest in Vancouver, Huawei CFO lives in luxury and spends her days out shopping Kelly McParland: If China thinks Canada can be frightened into compliance, it's mistaken

    “We have no comment other to say that the current operating situation has no impact on our filing preparations,” the department’s public-affairs office said.

    Gary Botting, a Vancouver lawyer with significant experience in extradition cases, said recently appointed federal Justice Minister David Lametti would have an obligation to discharge Meng if the U.S. misses the deadline.

    “If it hasn’t arrived in the 60 days then every journalist in town should be jumping up and down to insist that Meng get discharged according to the act,” Botting said in an interview. “That’s what the act says… The minister must discharge them according to the rule.”

    Meng’s case, Botting added, remains in a “political stage” and won’t go before the courts — and into the “legal stage” — until Lametti makes the decision to introduce an authority to proceed.

    Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, is out on $10 million bail and is staying at her Vancouver home. She has been ordered to appear in a Vancouver courtroom on Feb. 6 to fix a date for further proceedings.

    Lawyer Donald Bayne, who represented Ottawa professor Hassan Diab as he fought extradition on French terrorism charges for years, said it’s not particularly unusual that U.S. authorities had yet to submit the formal request for Meng so late in the 60-day period.

    He thinks they’ll make the deadline.

    “The Americans… having caused all of this so far — would never be able to say with a straight face, ‘Yeah, we’ve decided not to go ahead’ or ‘Gosh, there was nothing to our case,’ ” said Bayne, who’s based in Ottawa.

    In the days that followed Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians. Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, were taken in on vague allegations of engaging in activities that have endangered China’s national security.

    China also sentenced another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, to death in a sudden retrial of his drug-smuggling case. He was originally sentenced in 2016 to a 15-year term, but the court delivered the new sentence after reconsidering his case.

    Western analysts believe the arrests and the death sentence are part of an attempt by Beijing to pressure Canada into releasing Meng.

    Bayne said he doesn’t think Meng’s case would end even if the Americans missed their deadline — but comments by Trump might do it.

    He noted how last month the U.S. president raised questions about the basis of the extradition request by musing in an interview with Reuters about interfering in Meng’s case if it would help him strike a trade deal with China.

    Meng’s legal team could argue Trump’s remarks, which essentially made her a “human bargaining chip,” indicated an abuse of process.

    On the U.S.-China trade front, the deadline in the Meng case will coincide with high-level negotiations between Washington and Beijing, said the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

    China’s Vice-Premier Liu He, the country’s economic point person, is scheduled to travel to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Jan. 30 and 31 for a round of talks. They will meet as their two countries are locked in a tariff conflict that’s rattled the global economy.

    -With files from James McCarten in Washington and The Associated Press.

    Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

    Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics


    BURNABY, B.C. — Inside a sunlit co-operative housing complex in Burnaby, B.C., federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh knocked on doors of residents whose first languages included Croatian, Filipino and Spanish. Often, to their surprise, Singh greeted them or...

    BURNABY, B.C. — Inside a sunlit co-operative housing complex in Burnaby, B.C., federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh knocked on doors of residents whose first languages included Croatian, Filipino and Spanish. Often, to their surprise, Singh greeted them or said goodbye in their mother tongue.

    The leader is staking his political future on a byelection in Burnaby South, an extremely diverse riding where nearly 55 per cent of residents were born outside Canada. But recent missteps by his former Liberal opponent, Karen Wang, highlight why politicians must be careful when discussing issues of identity.

    Singh said he learned to say, “Hello, how are you?” in about 40 languages because when he was young, someone unexpected greeted him in Punjabi and he appreciated it as a sign of respect.

    “I feel like it’s my way of saying, ‘I respect where you come from and your history, and who you are, and a part of what makes you, you. It says a lot without saying a lot. It just says, ‘I value you,’ ” he said while on his recent door-knocking campaign.

    The Liberals on Saturday announced a replacement for Wang: Richard Lee, a former provincial legislator.

    The former Liberal candidate stepped aside Wednesday after she urged Chinese people to vote for her on social media platform WeChat. She contrasted herself, the “only” Chinese candidate, with Singh, who she described as “of Indian descent.”

    Wang held a tearful news conference a day after dropping out, in which she said a volunteer wrote the post and it’s common in Chinese culture to mention someone’s ethnicity. She said the Liberals asked her to resign, then wrote her apology, and she’s considering running as an Independent.

    Andrew Coyne: Ex-Liberal candidate’s only crime was engaging in ethnic politics — out loud Chris Selley: Is Jagmeet Singh the NDP's problem, or vice versa? Liberal bows out of Burnaby byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh's race

    The turmoil has sparked debate about how racial identity fits into Canadian politics. Some observers say parties have a long history of cynically appealing to the so-called “ethnic vote,” and Wang’s only fault might have been putting the strategy in writing. Others say her post crossed a line by pitting two groups against each other.

    Peter Julian, the New Democrat MP for nearby New Westminster-Burnaby, said his party’s approach is to consider how best to communicate with every community.

    “There are over 100 languages spoken in Burnaby South. It is a remarkably diverse riding. So, what we talk about is how best to reach out to all of those 100 communities, and make sure that we’re reflecting what the needs of the communities are,” he said.

    Wang’s post was not at all in that spirit, as she didn’t mention the needs of the community or the issues within it, said Julian.

    “She was just really trying to divide people in Burnaby South, and that’s why I think the reaction has been negative. People don’t want to see division. They want to feel in unity or in solidarity with their neighbours.”

    The Liberals swiftly condemned the post and said it wasn’t aligned with their values, adding they have long supported full and equal participation of all Canadians in democracy. Wang said the party did not have a strategy to capture Chinese-Canadian voters.

    Mario Canseco, president of Vancouver-based Research Co., said he conducted polling in 2015 on what “multicultural voters” in the Lower Mainland are looking in a political representative.

    “They’re motivated, more than anything, by the same things that any other voter would be motivated by — the party policies, the structures, the candidates. There were less than five per cent who said their main motivator for choosing a candidate is ethnicity,” he said.

    “So there’s not a lot of meat on those bones, in my view. But it’s still something that many politicians spend time doing. Everybody celebrates the Lunar New Year, they go to Vaisakhi. … But it’s not going to be the main motivator for those voters.”

    Both former premier Christy Clark and current Premier John Horgan created profiles on WeChat, a Chinese-language platform, during the last provincial election in 2017, said Guo Ding, a producer at OMNI BC Mandarin News.

    Wang’s post was offensive to Chinese-Canadians who have worked hard not to be seen only for their ethnicity, said Alden Habacon, a diversity and inclusion strategist in Vancouver.

    “They have value to bring as a creative person or a leader or a contributor that is more than just the Chinese person you see the first moment you see them,” he said.

    “For her to point that out right away kind of counters all that effort that a lot of Chinese-Canadians have made to push this idea that, ‘I’m legitimate. I’m legitimately Canadian and I have something to offer.’ ”

    Still, others argue Wang is being held up to more scrutiny because of her ethnicity, particularly at a time of tension between China and Canada on the world stage.

    Other politicians have been able to bounce back from worse scandals, said diversity consultant Ajay Puri.

    Puri said he believed it would be easier for a white politician to win in the riding, even though it is nearly 40 per cent ethnically Chinese. Puri noted the last municipal election in Vancouver ended with a nearly all-white council despite the diversity of its residents.

    “It’s harder for (white politician) to fail. But it’s easier for a person of colour to fail because the scrutiny is that much harder on them.”

    Trump offers a ’Dreamers’ deal for border-money proposal

    Trump offers a ’Dreamers’ deal for border-money proposal


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump sought to break the government shutdown impasse Saturday, offering to extend protections for young people brought to the country illegally as children, if Democrats give him $5.7 billion for his long-promised border...

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump sought to break the government shutdown impasse Saturday, offering to extend protections for young people brought to the country illegally as children, if Democrats give him $5.7 billion for his long-promised border wall. But Democrats dismissed the offer as non-starter, calling on Trump to re-open the government first.

    Speaking from the White House, Trump said he was offering a “commonsense compromise both parties should embrace.”

    In advance of Trump’s remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the expected proposal for ending the 29-day partial government shutdown was “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable.”

    U.S. shutdown battle gets bizarre as Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip after she seeks State of Union delay Trump orders thousands back to work without pay to blunt shutdown disruption

    The California Democrat said Trump’s expected offer was “not a good-faith effort” to help the immigrants and could not pass the House.

    Trump said he would extend protections for young people brought to the country illegally as children, as well as for those with temporary protected status after fleeing countries affected by natural disasters or violence.

    Democrats criticized the expected proposal because it didn’t seem to be a permanent solution for those immigrants and because it includes money for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which the party strongly opposes.

    Democrats also want Trump to reopen government before talks can start.

    Andrew Coyne: Ex-Liberal candidate’s only crime was engaging in ethnic politics — out loud

    Andrew Coyne: Ex-Liberal candidate’s only crime was engaging in ethnic politics — out loud


    You have to feel for the Liberal Party of Canada, who are surely the real victims in the Karen Wang affair. The party had innocently selected the B.C. daycare operator to run in next month’s byelection in Burnaby South based solely on her obvious...

    You have to feel for the Liberal Party of Canada, who are surely the real victims in the Karen Wang affair.

    The party had innocently selected the B.C. daycare operator to run in next month’s byelection in Burnaby South based solely on her obvious merits as a failed former candidate for the provincial Liberals in 2017, and without the slightest regard to her Chinese ethnicity, in a riding in which, according to the 2016 census, nearly 40 per cent of residents identify as ethnically Chinese.

    Imagine their shock when they discovered that she was engaging in ethnic politics.

    In a now-infamous post on WeChat, a Chinese-language social media site, Wang boasted of being “the only Chinese candidate” in the byelection, whereas her main opponent — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh — is “of Indian descent.”

    The party was instantly and publicly aghast. Pausing only to dictate an apology to be put out under her name (“I believe in the progress that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team are making for British Columbians and all Canadians, and I do not wish for any of my comments to be a distraction,” etc etc), party officials issued a statement in which they “accepted her resignation.” Her online comments, the statement noted, “are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada.”

    Karen Wang, ex-Liberal candidate for Burnaby South, says she may run as an Independent John Ivison: A most convenient misstep for the Liberals in Burnaby South Liberal bows out of Burnaby byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh's race

    Certainly not! How she got the idea that the Liberal Party of Canada was in any way a home for ethnic power-brokers prized for their ability to recruit members and raise funds from certain ethnic groups, or that it would even think of campaigning in ridings with heavy concentrations of voters from a given ethnic group by crude appeals to their ethnic identity — for example by nominating a candidate of the same ethnicity — must remain forever a mystery.

    Unless, of course, her real crime was to have said out loud what everybody in politics knows to be the practice, not just of the Liberals but of every party, but prefers not to mention. But the thing having been said, the party had no alternative but to pretend to be appalled, just as the other parties had no alternative but to pretend to be outraged.

    There is, after all, a script for these things. Usually it is performed at the expense of the Conservatives, as in the controversy a few years back over a leaked party memo proposing an advertising strategy for “very ethnic” ridings, or another that urged a candidate’s photo include voters of different ethnic backgrounds — as if every party did not do this, every day. Again, the crime was to have said what must be left unsaid, or rather to have been caught doing so.

    The only difference in this case is that it involves the Liberals, usually the first to feign such outrage, now forced to yield the stage to the NDP. Thus the NDP’s Nathan Cullen was quoted saying Wang’s post was “the worst kind of politics there is,” while Singh himself observed how “politics that divide along racial lines hurt our communities… I want to focus in on politics that bring people together.”

    Former Burnaby South candidate Karen Wang before a news conference on Jan. 17, 2019.

    It takes some effort, hearing such admirable sentiments, to recall NDP officials’ open speculation, after Singh was elected party leader, that this would improve their chances in cities such as Brampton, Ont., or Surrey, B.C., with large numbers of Sikh voters. It doesn’t necessarily follow, of course: voters of all ethnicities display a stubborn tendency to think and vote as individuals, frustrating parties’ efforts to sort them into little boxes. But that doesn’t mean the parties don’t think that way, or act accordingly.

    For her part, the lesson Wang drew from the controversy was that she should have limited herself to stressing her own ethnicity, without mentioning Singh’s. “As a Canadian with a Chinese background, normally, obviously, you are trying to gain people’s support from the same cultural background,” she told her post-resignation news conference.

    Which at least has the virtue of honesty. The hypocrisy of the universal outrage over Wang’s appeal to tribalism is not just that all the parties do it, as a matter of practical politics, but that much respectable opinion believes it to be right and proper as a matter of principle. Thus, for example, electoral boundaries are supposed to be drawn in conformity with what is delicately called “community of interest,” on the precise understanding to which Wang sought to appeal: that membership in an ethnic or other identity group trumps. At the limit, it emerges in calls for special dedicated ridings — even a separate Parliament — for Indigenous voters.

    This is hardly confined to politics: across society, progressive ideology has lately taught us, not to emphasize our common humanity, but the opposite: that people of one group may not — cannot — be represented by those of another; that they are to be judged, not as individuals, but on the basis of their race, gender and so on. The current generation of federal Liberals, in particular, has made hiring quotas the defining principle of their government, to be institutionalized from top to bottom.

    It is lovely to hear Liberal ministers proclaim, in response to the Wang affair, that “the value we stand for is representing all Canadians,” just as it is heartening to read an NDP commentator denounce the idea of reducing voters to “a passive, two-dimensional identity to be exploited for someone else’s elevation to the political class.” If only they meant it.

    Unconfirmed report says daughters of Pakistani woman who avoided death sentence for blasphemy are in Canada

    Unconfirmed report says daughters of Pakistani woman who avoided death sentence for blasphemy are in Canada


    The daughters of a Pakistani Christian woman who narrowly avoided a death sentence for blasphemy have been given asylum in Canada, says an international media report, but the government won’t say if the report is true. Asia Bibi, who was acquitted in...

    The daughters of a Pakistani Christian woman who narrowly avoided a death sentence for blasphemy have been given asylum in Canada, says an international media report, but the government won’t say if the report is true.

    Asia Bibi, who was acquitted in October by the Pakistani Supreme Court, remains in protective custody in Pakistan — an appeal of her case is pending — and continues to be the subject of violent protests and threats against her life.

    At the end of November, Bibi’s brother-in-law Joseph Nadeem said people had been shooting at the house where he and Bibi’s two daughters were living and that the family faces “constant threats.” Nadeem said he hoped that his family and Bibi’s daughter would be out of the country by Christmas, according to a report on the Aid to the Church in Need website.

    A report Wednesday from the Associated Press said Bibi’s daughters “were taken to Canada for their safety.”

    The case marks a striking contrast to the recent high-profile arrival of Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled family violence and has been given asylum in Canada. Alqunun caught the world’s attention with a social media campaign.

    Ottawa in talks with Pakistan about bringing Christian woman freed from death row to Canada Christian woman accused of blasphemy free after years on Pakistan death row, but whereabouts unknown Christie Blatchford: Bewildering silence of Canadian politicians on plight of Christian mother on death row

    The National Post has been unable to independently verify the Associated Press report. Calls and emails to Bibi’s family weren’t returned and a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland wouldn’t respond to specific questions about whether Canada has allowed Bibi’s children to take asylum here.

    Freeland’s office responded with a general statement about the Bibi case.

    “The case of Asia Bibi is a priority for our government, and we are focused on ensuring the safety of her and her family,” said Adam Austen, Freeland’s press secretary. “We are working with like-minded friends and allies on this issue. Canada is prepared to do everything we can to ensure the safety of Asia Bibi.”

    It’s possible that the asylum claim for Bibi’s daughters has been kept quiet over fears publicity could endangering the safety of the women.

    “The family safety should be paramount,” said Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel. “We wouldn’t want (Bibi) to be used as a photo opportunity due to the safety concern.”

    A Pakistani supporter of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, a hardline religious party, holds a photo of Asia Bibi, a Christian, during a protest following the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit her of blasphemy, in Islamabad on Nov. 2, 2018.

    In the wake of the recent arrival of Alqunun, who was met at the airport by Freeland and a pack of news media, Rempel said she worried about government’s instinct to make these decisions into media events.

    Rempel said she held off on commenting on the Alqunun asylum claim because she was concerned that reckless comments could endanger the girl. Rempel questioned the wisdom of the government’s announcement to the press, noting that Alqunun was already receiving threats and had been given a security detail.

    Reaction to the Bibi case would likely be even stronger, especially considering she was charged with blasphemy. The Supreme Court acquittal sparked protests in several major cities in Pakistan and led to death threats against the judges.

    In Alqunun’s case, she caught the world’s attention with a social media campaign while she was holed up in a hotel in Thailand. Rempel said she wants the government to better explain how they make asylum decisions, especially when it appears that they are being made on-the-fly.

    “We can’t be making these determinations off Twitter. We actually have to be doing some due diligence,” Rempel said. Both cases appear to be solid asylum cases, but the government didn’t appear to have a system for dealing with them, she said.

    “Asia Bibi is a clear case of someone who should be granted asylum in Canada,” said Rempel.

    Members of the Pakistan Christian Democratic alliance march during a protest in Lahore on Dec. 25, 2010, in support of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother sentenced to death under blasphemy laws.

    Canada, Britain, the United States and Italy, among others, have been working for Bibi’s release from Pakistan, but to no avail.

    In November, Andrew Leslie, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs, said there were “discreet and delicate discussions underway” about removing Bibi from Pakistan. Later that month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told media in Paris that his government was “in discussion with the Pakistani government” about the matter and mentioned the “delicate domestic context” in Pakistan.

    In October, Eisham Ashiq, 19, Bibi’s youngest daughter, visited London with her father and made a plea for her mother’s freedom, which would be granted by the Pakistani Supreme Court weeks later. Bibi spent eight years on death row after a colleague at work referred to Christians as “unclean” and she defended her religion in the argument.

    In the November report in Aid to the Church in Need, Nadeem said that Bibi “was very concerned for the safety of her daughters.” ACN is a Catholic charity organization that provides support to Christians who are persecuted and oppressed.

    “We are hoping to be able to leave Pakistan soon and live in a safe place,” said Nadeem, at the time.

    • Email: sxthomson@postmedia.com | Twitter: stuartxthomson