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Donald Trump undermined Canada on Huawei arrest, says former U.S. ambassador

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Former U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke said today that U.S. President Donald Trump undermined Canada over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou when he said that he would intervene in the case if it could help secure a trade deal with China.

In an interview with CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, Locke said the extradition process has always been viewed as independent and separate from politics. But Trump’s offer in a Reuters interview to insert himself into the case — « if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made » — may have made Canada’s actions appear to the Chinese as an attempt at securing leverage.

« And so if the president is intervening, then the Chinese will say, ‘OK Canada, why don’t you intervene? Why don’t you just simply refuse to extradite this person to the United States? » he said.

Canadian officials have maintained that the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng happened without political interference and that the process is unfolding in accordance with the rule of law and international treaties.

The U.S. is seeking Meng’s extradition on charges related to the alleged violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

At a press conference last Friday alongside U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered what could be interpreted as a veiled rebuke of Trump’s remarks.

« Canada understands that the rule of law and extradition issues ought not to ever be politicized or used as tools to resolve other issues, » said Freeland. « That is the very clear position which Canada expresses to all of its partners. »

Further escalation?

Following Meng’s arrest, China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 on suspicion of « endangering national security. »

Locke said he sees the two events as linked and describes China’s detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor as typical of Beijing’s tactics when it wants to send a warning to a foreign government.

Locke’s remarks echo the assessment of former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques, who told Power & Politics last week that « in China, there’s no coincidence. »

In terms of escalation, though, Locke said he doesn’t think there’s more to come on the Chinese side — at least in the short term.

« I think there will be a pause until they see what happens in that extradition hearing. Will Canada extradite the CFO to the United States? » said Locke.

« It really puts Canada in a difficult predicament because law enforcement between the United States and Canada (has) long had a history of good cooperation — apolitical, nonpolitical. But of course, the charges against the CFO of Huawei right now come at a very difficult political moment during these very tense and delicate trade talks and trade friction between the United States and China. »

Huawei security concerns

Meng’s arrest has also led to renewed scrutiny of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world and the second-largest manufacturer of smartphones, after Samsung.

U.S. lawmakers and intelligence officials have long warned of national security concerns stemming from Huawei’s murky connections to the Chinese government.

Locke said those security concerns revolve around the company’s equipment and the role it plays in telecommunications infrastructure.

« The fear is that somehow Huawei, with its close ties to the Chinese government, will have the capability of putting some sort of devices or spying on or collecting information from the people of the countries in which their equipment is installed, » he said.

« Or that they can somehow use that equipment to disrupt the normal flow of telecommunications, if the Chinese government were to direct them to do so. »

Several countries have moved to bar Huawei equipment from their 5G network infrastructures, including the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Canada is currently conducting a comprehensive review of the 5G technology movement, but has not yet announced a ban on Huawei technology.

Watch the full interview below.

Former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke joined Power & Politics Tuesday to discuss the state of Canada-China-U.S. relations in the wake of the Canadian arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou and the subsequent Chinese detention of two Canadians. 13:20

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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Anglais

Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar is the Latest to Hatch in West Island’s Bubbling Restaurant Scene

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Wings are the thing at the latest restaurant to make its mark on Montreal’s West Island: Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar.

At the buzzy new Dollard-Des Ormeaux eatery, the bird limbs come aplenty, with a menu listing eleven “wet & messy” wings, including smoked apple habanero, sriracha lime, and cherry cola BBQ; and four — cacio e pepe, ketchups chip, Nashville hot, and the garlicky, lemon pepper “vampire slayer” — dry rub flavours. They come 10 for $18 or 20 for $34, plus the option of ranch, parmesan, or blue cheese dipping sauce.

Tacos, nachos, poutines (one made with bone marrow, another with tater tots), smashed burgers, salads, and a classic buttermilk fried chicken dinner are just sampling of the other dishes that round out the offering. On the drinks side, there are cocktails, sangrias, and spiked milkshakes in popular chocolate bar flavours: After Eight, Skor, Bounty, or Reeses.

Opened on July 5, Birdhouse is among a recent influx of restaurants to grace the island’s western end, including birria taco slinger Tacos Don Rigo and barbecue joint Smoke Box — a double whammy in the same Pierrefonds area strip mall. That comes in addition to plans for Fairview Pointe Claire’s incoming “District Gourmand” (slated to usher in Tommy Café), and, of course, a number of the area’s longer-standing stalwarts — from southern belle Bistro Nolah to old-school casse-croûte Smoked Meat Pete — that have helped bolster the West Island’s culinary credentials.

The brand-new Brunswick Boulevard restaurant is the brainchild of Montreal entrepreneur Lorne Schwartz, restaurateur George Massouras (of Madisons and Arahova Souvlaki), and among the other partners involved, Brahm Mauer, son of the founder of beloved buffalo hot wings expert Wings ‘n’ Things. Mauer has tried his hand at reviving the original Wings ‘n’ Things recipe — the restaurant originally opened in 1986 — over the years, including with a Royalmount Avenue location in 2012, then as a roaming summertime food truck and NDG pop-up. That same truck has now been made over with a Birdhouse-branded livery to be deployed for private events.

A likely draw to many, Birdhouse is reprising the “famous flavours, untouched” of the once-upon-a-time NDG staple, represented on its menu as “The Legendary WNT Buffalo” chicken wing.

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