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Justin Trudeau looking for support from allies amid China feud – National

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to shore up international support in the diplomatic feud with China over Canadian detainees, including the pending death sentence to an alleged drug smuggler from British Columbia.

Trudeau spoke with the leaders of Argentina and New Zealand Monday as part of Canada’s ongoing efforts to build support for Canada in its dispute with China.


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China criticizes Trudeau’s remarks on death sentence decision, says he should ‘respect rule of law’

Trudeau and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern discussed “the detention and legal treatment of Canadian citizens in China and the need for all countries to respect judicial procedure and rule of law,” said a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The prime minister and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri “discussed the arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China and the importance of safeguarding international norms, including judicial independence and respect for the rule of law. They also discussed China’s application of the death penalty to a Canadian citizen,” his office said.

Canada has received support from other allies including the United States, the European Union, France, Britain, Germany and Australia in its ongoing efforts to win the release of two Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested last month.

WATCH: Canada-China relations take another hit






The international outreach has sparked Chinese ire, including a scathing attack from Beijing’s envoy in Ottawa that it smacks of “Western egotism and white supremacy.”

China shot back at Trudeau on Tuesday in expressing “strong dissatisfaction” with his criticism of a death sentence handed down this week to a previously arrested third Canadian, an alleged drug smuggler.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced in 2016 to a 15-year prison term but on Monday, after a new trial, he was sentenced to death.

Trudeau said Monday he was very concerned to see China “acting arbitrarily” by applying the death penalty and that Canada will do all it can to intervene on Schellenberg’s behalf.

Analysis: China pulling out all the stops to force Canada to back down

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday Trudeau should “respect the rule of law, respect China’s judicial sovereignty, correct mistakes and stop making irresponsible remarks.”

Hua told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that China expresses “our strong dissatisfaction with this” and is cautioning its citizens about travelling to Canada.

The foreign ministry’s consular affairs office also published a notice Tuesday saying that Canada has recently “arbitrarily detained” a Chinese national _ a reference to Canada’s arrest of Chinese telecommunications executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States.

It urged Chinese citizens to consider their personal circumstances and “fully assess the risks of going to Canada for tourism.”

The notice mirrored Canada’s revision of its own travel advisory Monday that warned of the “risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws” in China.

WATCH: China escalates criticism of Canada’s fidelity to rule of law






Global Affairs says on its website that Canadians are still advised to “exercise a high degree of caution” when visiting China _ which is unchanged _ but it now explains the warning is “due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.” It also now warns of the death penalty, as well as penalties for drug-related offences.

Canada and China made a concerted effort to boost tourism last year to take economic advantage of the growing middle class in the People’s Republic. The initiative appeared to bear some fruit with travel in the first 10 months of 2018 exceeding the number of Chinese tourists during the same period in 2017.

Statistics Canada figures show more than 663,000 Chinese travellers visited Canada between January and October, compared with more than 620,000 between January and October 2017.


READ MORE:
Canadians urged to exercise caution in China amid ‘arbitrary enforcement’ of laws

Hua’s comments add to increasingly strained relations between the two countries since Canada detained Meng on Dec. 1, followed soon after by China’s detention of Kovrig, a former diplomat and Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations they were undermining national security.

Rights organizations said Tuesday’s remarks by the Chinese foreign ministry raise serious questions about possible political interference in China.

The Chinese media began publicizing Schellenberg’s case after Canada detained Meng, who faces extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges.

Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, said the family is awaiting any news regarding an appeal.

Schellenberg’s lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client has 10 days to contest the latest sentence.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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