Toronto officer facing misconduct charges over 2016 McArthur choking arrest asks for independent judge


A Toronto police officer facing professional misconduct charges in connection to the investigation into serial killer Bruce McArthur is requesting an independent judge hear the case.

In a brief hearing Tuesday morning at Toronto police headquarters, the disciplinary tribunal heard the case of Sgt. Paul Gauthier, who is charged with neglect of duty and insubordination in connection to the McArthur investigation.

Gauthier’s charge stems from a 2016 encounter between the serial killer and Toronto police that came after a man reported McArthur had attempted to strangle him during a sexual encounter. McArthur was arrested but let go with no charges.

Gauthier, a former member of the force’s sex crime unit, was not present at the tribunal. He was represented by Toronto lawyer Lawrence Gridin, who formally requested an independent adjudicator.

“You have no independence from the chief of police,” Gridin told the hearing officer, Toronto police Insp. Richard Hegedus.

Gridin had begun discussing how, in December 2017, police chief Mark Saunders held a press conference denying the existence of a serial killer at work in Toronto’s Gay Village.

“We now know, because this matter’s up in court, and there’s been an agreed statement of facts files, details have come out… that the information at the press conference was not correct.”

But Gridin was interrupted by Toronto police prosecutor Alexandra Ciobotaru, who said Gridin’s comments were not what she was expecting and that initial comments should only pertain to the behaviour of the officer in question.

Gridin replied that he was providing the information to show justification for an independent adjudicator, not a Toronto police hearing officer chosen by Saunders.

Outside the tribunal, the lawyer told reporters that he was confident the evidence will show that the work done by Gauthier contributed to the identification of McArthur as a serial killer, rather than detracted from it.

He stressed that the voices of people giving their victim impact statements as part of McArthur’s sentencing hearings should be heard today, “not mine.”

Gauthier’s matter was scheduled to be heard again later this month.

McArthur went on to kill two other men after the 2016 incident: Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman, both murdered in 2017.

New details about the incident were revealed in Ontario Superior Court Monday during McArthur’s ongoing sentencing hearing. The killer had earlier pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder.

According to a summary of the facts read out in court, the encounter occurred on June 20, 2016, when a victim reported McArthur showed up at his place of work and asked him to meet that evening in his van in a parking lot.

The man did so and reported finding McArthur had removed the seat behind the driver’s seat so that there was room to lie down, revealing a plastic sheet on the floor of the van and a fur coat on top of that.

McArthur asked the victim to lie on the coat and instructed him to put an arm behind his back. Then, “with a look of determination on his face,” he “grabbed the victim’s throat and started strangling him,” Crown lawyer Michael Cantlon said in court Monday.

“What do you want from me,” the victim asked, according to the statement of facts. McArthur did not respond and “continued squeezing the larynx” of the victim, who was unable to swallow properly for a week, Cantlon said.

The victim managed to roll away and escaped the van. He later called 911.

McArthur went to the police station on his own and was arrested, but gave an exculpatory statement, court heard.

“An officer released Mr. McArthur without charges, believing his statement to be credible,” Cantlon said.

In a statement last week, Gauthier’s lawyer said the decision not to charge McArthur for the 2016 incident “was made in conjunction” with Gauthier’s supervisor “and based on the information available at the time.”

“Gauthier conducted a proper investigation and fully documented the arrest of McArthur so that the information was available to all other investigators,” said lawyer Lawrence Gridin.

“McArthur’s monstrous nature was difficult to uncover because he led a life of extreme deception, not because of anything to do with the 2016 arrest … Gauthier has great sympathy for the victims and the community.”

According to police tribunal documents, Gauthier was previously charged with two counts of professional misconduct while he was with the sex crimes unit.

Those charges, which are unrelated to the McArthur case, were ultimately dropped and the matter was dealt with internally.

The police document that outlined the earlier allegations against Gauthier stated that, beginning in July 2011, Gauthier was working with the sex crimes unit when he was investigating a case where he had reasonable and probable grounds to arrest the suspect. Specifically, Gauthier had DNA evidence identifying the alleged perpetrator through a positive link to an offender in the National DNA databank.

But the suspect was never arrested. Five years later, Peel Regional Police arrested the same man for unrelated sexual offences. During the Peel police investigation, it was determined that “the information originally received in 2011, by (Gauthier), was never acted on,” according to police documents.

According to the police document, Gauthier “failed to ensure that a thorough investigation was conducted”; “failed to ensure” the DNA link was acted upon; and “failed to ensure” that the measures were in place for the apprehension of the suspect.

“In so doing, you committed misconduct, in that you did, without lawful excuse, neglect or omit to promptly and diligently perform a duty, as a member of the police force of which you are a member.”

McArthur pleaded guilty earlier this week to eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kinsman, Esen, Lisowick, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam.

With Star files

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis


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Shooting suspect Daon Glasgow in custody after ‘high risk’ arrest in Burnaby


Surrey RCMP have arrested Daon Gordon Glasgow in connection with the shooting of Transit Police Const. Josh Harms on Wednesday at the Scott Road SkyTrain Station in Surrey, B.C.

According to Surrey RCMP, Glasgow was arrested at a home in the 7500 block of Boundary Road in Burnaby at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

In a press conference on Sunday morning, Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald with Surrey RCMP said that no one was injured in what he described as a « high risk » arrest.

He said the home where Glasgow was arrested was a fourplex, and that the residents of the other three units were evacuated prior to the arrest. Three other people were detained by police, but released shortly afterwards. McDonald said he did not know how long Glasgow had been in the home.

The Surrey RCMP Serious Crimes Unit, the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, the Lower Mainland Integrated Police Dog Service, Air 1 and Burnaby RCMP assisted in the arrest.

McDonald said Glasgow, 35, is currently being held in connection to an outstanding warrant of being unlawfully at large before Wednesday’s shooting.

Police are now working with the BC Prosecution Service to lay charges in connection with the shooting.

A photo taken by a neighbour in Burnaby shows police vehicles deployed to the scene of the arrest. (Submitted)

Harms, 27, was on regular patrol duty Wednesday when a suspect shot him on the platform of the Scott Road SkyTrain station around 4:20 p.m. PT.

His injuries were not life threatening. 

In the press conference Barry Kross, chief of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, said that Harms is « doing well » and recovering at home.

In the following days police released surveillance footage of a shooting suspect and said they were looking for Glasgow. A sweeping four-day manhunt of the area involved at least 80 officers. Schools and residences were temporarily put on lockdown on Wednesday evening.

Shortly after the shooting at the Scott Road SkyTrain station, police released images of a suspect, who police identified as Daon Gordon Glasgow. (Surrey RCMP)

« It certainly takes a team effort for an investigation of this magnitude to come to a successful completion, a successful conclusion, as it has today, » Kross said.

Investigation ‘extremely complex’

McDonald wouldn’t comment on how Glasgow was arrested from the home, but said police « pulled out all the stops given the risk to public safety. »

« In Wednesday’s shooting we had to consider that this was not a targeted event, that the suspect was armed with a firearm and at large in public, and there was a heightened risk for violence, » he said.

« These factors pose an extremely serious risk for public safety and from the outset this has been an extremely complex investigation. »

Glasgow has a previous conviction for manslaughter in the 2010 death of Terry Scott at the McDonald’s near 110th Avenue and Scott Road, just blocks away from where Harms was shot.


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Surrey RCMP arrest shooting suspect Daon Glasgow


Surrey RCMP have arrested Daon Gordon Glasgow in connection with shooting Transit Police Const. Josh Harms on Wednesday at the Scott Road SkyTrain Station in Surrey.

According to a release from Surrey RCMP, Glasgow was arrested without incident at 5:30 a.m. at Rumble Street and Boundary Road at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The Surrey RCMP Serious Crimes Unit, the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, the Lower Mainland Integrated Police Dog Service, Air 1 and Burnaby RCMP assisted in the arrest.

Josh Harms, 27, was on regular patrol duty Wednesday when a suspect shot him on the platform of the Scott Road SkyTrain station around 4:20 p.m. PT.

His injuries were not life threatening. 

Glasgow, 35, was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison minus time in custody after pleading guilty to the 2010 manslaughter death of Terry Scott at the McDonald’s near 110th Avenue and Scott Road, just blocks away from the where Harms was shot.


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Remembering the missing men allegedly killed by Bruce McArthur a year after his arrest


Karen Fraser remembers the exact moment police told her she had to vacate her home on a calm Leaside crescent. It fixed her house as ground zero in an expansive police investigation and the focal point of a horrifying international story.

On the morning of January 18, 2018, police arrested Bruce McArthur, the man who landscaped the yard of her home on Mallory Crescent and is now charged with killing eight men with ties to Toronto’s Gay Village. At the same time, police launched a massive investigation that saw officers fan out across the GTA and sent Fraser and her partner Ron Smith from their home for 22 days.

It was just the first of the difficult days — for the victims’ families, for the LGBTQ community, for Fraser and Smith, for investigators, for the city.

In the coming weeks, police would find human remains on the property Fraser and Smith owned, and yet more remains during a summertime excavation.

As questions arose about past investigations into the disappearance of the missing men — and whether a killer could have been stopped sooner — an external review was launched to probe how police handle missing persons investigations.

“On the day when everyone’s thinking: ‘It’s been a year?’ — and then they wouldn’t quite know what to do with their reaction — we thought we need something to mark the day,” Fraser said in an interview this week.

And so, at 10:25 a.m. Friday, which is the same time Fraser was ordered out of her home and when McArthur was arrested, a lone bag piper will play a lament for the victims on her driveway.

It will be a simple, wordless acknowledgment that a year has passed — “for crimes that are beyond words, there will be no words from us,” Fraser said.

McArthur, 67, is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of men spanning from 2010-2017. He appeared briefly in court Wednesday, as pre-trial discussions continue between his lawyers, Crown prosecutors and Ontario Superior Court judge John McMahon.

His trial is scheduled for January 2020.

McArthur’s return to court in the week of the anniversary prompted the organization of a healing circle for anyone affected by the case to offer a space to for them to share their feelings and experiences.

Haran Vijayanathan, executive director at the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), said the timing was not so much to mark the anniversary of McArthur’s arrest as it was to acknowledge the feelings of those affected by the case.

“When you start thinking about what happened a year ago and when you have him appearing in the same month in court, and that becomes news, it triggers people,” said Vijayanathan.

Held Wednesday evening, the event brought out a small, diverse group of people, including some who knew the victims, or McArthur, and also police officers. “It was a really nice balance,” Vijayanathan said.

“We wanted to encourage people to actively seek support and that they don’t have to sit alone with their thoughts,” he said.

McArthur is scheduled to be back in court January 29.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis


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Calgary man tracks down thief who stole his company’s $15K trailer, catches arrest on dashcam video


An act of vigilante justice was captured on video this week, as a Calgary man tracked down a thief that stole his company’s $15,000 trailer, called it in to police and recorded the whole thing on his dashcam.

Robert Michaud owns a construction company in the city and said he’s had his company’s property stolen about six times in the past few years and neighbouring companies have been targeted as well.

Usually it’s copper or batteries, but on Jan. 6, he was hit with another theft, watching the culprits on surveillance video breaking the lock and hooking up his trailer before leaving with it.

« That trailer was slated to be used on a job the next day, so yeah, we just wanted our equipment back, » he said.

« The police said they were going to try and find the person. But we just found them before they did. »

A few days after the theft, one of his brothers spotted the stolen trailer on the highway. Michaud was in the area and caught up to it and verified that, indeed, it was his stolen property — but the logos had been painted over.

« Then I got on the line with the RCMP in High River to say I’m following my stolen trailer. There’s really no place to turn off at that point. »

Police took one person into custody and charged them with possession of a stolen vehicle. (Robert Michaud)

In the video, recorded on Michaud’s dashcam, RCMP cars waiting on the side of the road flick on their lights before pulling the truck towing the stolen trailer over.

He said he never had any intention of confronting the thief, but after spending so much money and time dealing with theft, it felt vindicating to get his property back himself. 

« [I was] ecstatic … I never get to see or hear what happens to these people or how they were caught, so it was nice to see it happen first-hand, » he said.

One charged, say police

Calgary police confirmed that on Wednesday, the day Michaud’s video was shot, they took one person into custody and charged them with possession of stolen property.

A police spokesperson also said they generally wouldn’t encourage following along as an arrest is made, as police don’t know who they’re dealing with and they don’t want the public to put themselves at risk.


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RCMP arrest 3 on outstanding warrants near Leduc after car runs out of gas – Edmonton


A woman and two men are in custody after voluntarily pulling over at a traffic stop, when their vehicle ran out of gas.

The vehicle was not pulled over by police.

Their vehicle stopped on Highway 2 near Glen Park Road in Leduc on Jan 11. at approximately 12:30 p.m., when its occupants asked for assistance.

Racist letter tells Leduc family ‘we do not like your kind’

A woman exited the vehicle and as police continued to converse with her, they discovered she was wanted on an outstanding warrant, according to a release sent Saturday.

They then found two other men in the vehicle, one of whom was suffering from medical distress. He was transported to hospital by ambulance.

The two men were also wanted on outstanding warrants, and attempting to evade police.

WATCH: Calgary woman terrified to learn ex-boyfriend who assaulted her is now a wanted man

In a subsequent search of the vehicle, police found approximately 900 grams of what they believe to be methamphetamine, and 85 grams of what they believe is cocaine.

Police seek missing New Westminster man also wanted on outstanding warrants

RCMP also say the vehicle they were driving was stolen.

The woman and two men are facing what police say is “a multitude of charges,” and are awaiting a Judicial Release Hearing.

RCMP say an update will be provided once the hearing has been completed.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Police arrest 7 youths at Milton, Ont., school after lockdown


Police in Ontario’s Halton region say they arrested seven youths and recovered multiple weapons on Thursday afternoon amid lockdowns and security measures at three schools.

Bishop P.F. Reding Catholic Secondary School was placed under lockdown, while nearby Chris Hadfield Public School and St. Peter’s Elementary School were placed under hold and secure procedures. All security measures have now been lifted.

Officers responded to a call for assistance at around 11:30 a.m. ET from a school in Milton, Ont., a suburban town northwest of Toronto located in Halton region.

The callers said they were being chased by a group of males with a gun behind Bishop P.F. Reding school.

Police officers later located and arrested seven youths inside the school. Police recovered one knife and two firearms. One of the guns was determined to be a replica, while the other is still being examined.

Police say students and staff at all three schools are safe and uninjured.

Halton police said seven youth are in custody, but haven’t revealed information about any potential charges. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

The hold and secure procedures were put in place at the nearby schools as a precautionary measure, police said.

One of the seven arrested youths has been released, while the others remain in police custody.

Police did not reveal information about any potential charges.


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Why did RCMP arrest 14 people at Wet’suwet’en Camp, and what happens next?


On Jan. 8, 14 people were arrested in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation for allegedly failing to obey a court injunction that required the removal of a blockade.

The Unist’ot’en Camp was set up years ago to manage entry into the Indigenous territory. A blockade, called the Gitdumt’en access point, was set up further along the road. A December court injunction was granted in favour of Coastal GasLink, ordering protesters to remove the blockade.

READ MORE: Rallies held in support of anti-pipeline protesters arrested in northern B.C.

The order was later expanded to include the Morice West Forest Service Road, on which the Gitdumt’en access point was located.

Over the weekend, RCMP vehicles and tactical units were spotted in the nearby towns of Houston and Smithers. The conflict came to a head on Monday when RCMP went to the blockade.

What is the Coastal GasLink project?

The Coastal GasLink pipeline project aims to connect fracking projects in the Peace Region to the upcoming $40-billion LNG Canada plant in Kitimat.

Coastal GasLink is a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp.

TransCanada name change to TC Energy ‘de emphasizes’ Canada for leery investors: analyst

The pipeline route travels through Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory, and the nation’s elected leaders signed a benefits agreement with the province for Coastal GasLink in 2014.

Protesters say the project infringes on Aboriginal title, citing the 1997 Delgamuukw Supreme Court of Canada ruling. During that case, the court found that the Wet’suwet’en had not given up title to 22,000 square kilometres of territory.

Coastal GasLink has previously said it consulted with hereditary chiefs for more than five years and secured 20 project agreements with elected First Nations councils all along the pipeline route.

The elected officials in the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have signed a project agreement with Coastal GasLink.

WATCH: Pipeline protesters interrupt Morneau during talks about LNG project (Dec. 2018) 

Who was arrested?

While there are some who support the pipeline, activists and demonstrators who disagree with the project were arrested at the Gitdumt’en access point, including Molly Wickham.

One person was released Monday evening on a promise to appear, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said, and the others were held to appear before a justice. Wickham says seven were released on Tuesday, and six were still in custody.

Saunderson said they appeared before the justice in relation to “alleged violations of the B.C. Supreme Court injunction.”

Wickham said in a testimonial on Facebook after being released that the RCMP had chainsaws to dismantle the blockade, which threatened the safety of those at the blockade.

“They came straight at us,” she said. “A lot of what you’ve seen is not the extent of the violence that happened there.”

Carla Lewis, a spokesperson from the Aboriginal group at the camp, said one person suffered a physical injury to his wrists and everyone at the blockade was “emotionally shaken.”

Hundreds of people gathered in support of the Unist’ot’en Camp and Wet’suwet’en people during their standoff near Houston, B.C., as they protest against the LNG pipeline during a rally at the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019.


Were the media blocked from reporting on the arrests?

According to journalists from APTN and CBC, several people were blocked from entering the region.

“We have no idea what’s happening,” Wickham said in her testimonial, noting that no one can get in or out of the region.

Media who were already on the side of the blockade are still there, but journalists attempting to enter were not allowed in.

Saunderson told media at the time that the area was part of a temporary exclusion zone, and no one was allowed to enter.

A sign for a blockade checkpoint by the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation is shown in this undated handout photo posted on the Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidumt’en Territory Facebook page.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Facebook, Wet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidumt’en Territor

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement regarding the exclusion zones.

“Authorities in Canada should immediately end the arbitrary restrictions on journalists covering the police breakup of the pipeline protest,” said CPJ North America Program Co-ordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck.

“Journalists should be able to freely cover events of national importance without fear of arrest.”

Reports of service down

According to people who were there, the already spotty Wi-Fi connection went down around the time the RCMP arrived.

“Wifi crashed just before police arrived,” Star Vancouver reporter Perrin Grauer wrote on Twitter.

Wickham blamed RCMP for the loss of service.

“They cut off our internet access so that we couldn’t post anything, so at the time of the incident we couldn’t post to the outside world,” Wickham said.

RCMP disputed that accusation in their statement on Monday, saying the area is extremely remote and even police had limited access to communication, other than their radios.

Similar accusations were made against police during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in 2016.

What happens next?

Lewis said RCMP are continuing to clear the road towards the Unist’ot’en camp as of Wednesday morning.

“Our hereditary chiefs are also meeting with the RCMP this morning to continue trying to negotiate a peaceful discussion and the safety of our people,” Lewis said.

But she said she was worried that the RCMP would continue to arrest people when they get to the camp.

Support from around the country

On Tuesday, thousands marched in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en protesters.

In Vancouver, hundreds gathered at the B.C. Supreme Court, including federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and environmentalist and scientist David Suzuki.

WATCH: David Suzuki attends Vancouver anti-pipeline rally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the situation was “not ideal” in an interview with CBC.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the statements to Global News.

“We’re also a country of the rule of law, and when the courts weigh in and say that we need to get things done, we need to move forward, we also have to abide by that,” Trudeau said.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued a statement, saying: “Reconciliation will not be achieved through force.”

“This use of force against peaceful people is a violation of human rights and First Nations’ rights. Building consensus under duress will make the resolution of the situation in northern British Columbia very difficult. Real consensus will be built when the parties, with very different views, come together in meaningful and productive dialogue,” he wrote in the statement.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Arrest made after man allegedly robs 3 Toronto banks in 4 days – Toronto


Toronto police say they’ve charged a 25-year-old man after three banks were robbed in four days.

They say a man entered a bank in the city last Wednesday afternoon and allegedly gave staff a note saying he had a gun and demanded cash.

Second suspect arrested, charged for string of GTA bank robberies: Toronto police

Police say two other banks were robbed in a similar fashion on Thursday and Saturday.

They allege the man took off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The man faces numerous charges including three counts of robbery with a firearm and three counts of disguise with intent.


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13 Canadians detained in China since arrest of Huawei executive in Vancouver, officials reveal


VANCOUVER—Thirteen Canadians have been detained in China since tech executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1, according to Global Affairs Canada.

Three of those thirteen Canadians — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig, entrepreneur Michael Spavor and teacher Sarah McIver — were previously known to the public.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou talks with a member of her private security detail in Vancouver in December. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver, at the request of authorities in the United States.
Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou talks with a member of her private security detail in Vancouver in December. Meng was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver, at the request of authorities in the United States.  (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press File)

Eight of those people, including McIver, have been returned to Canada since their arrests, said Global Affairs spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé in a statement. Of the eight Canadians that have been returned, only McIver was named.

Meng, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei, was released on $10-million bail to her family’s Vancouver home on Dec. 11 to await proceedings for extradition to the United States.

But Kovrig, Spavor and three others not named in Bérubé’s statement still remain in custody at undisclosed locations in China. Kovrig is being kept in a continuously lit room and is being questioned several times daily by Chinese authorities, according to International Crisis Group (ICG), Kovrig’s former employer.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in December both Kovrig and Spavor are “suspected of engaging in activities endangering national security,” though neither have been formally charged, precluding them from being able to mount any kind of legal defence.

Read more:

China’s detention of Canadians part of bid to challenge Western democratic norms, experts say

The ‘forgotten’ Canadians detained in China

China levels national security accusations against two detained Canadians

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called their detentions “arbitrary” in a statement submitted Thursday to the Star.

China’s top prosecutor Zhang Jun said in a statement on Thursday that there is “no doubt” Kovrig and Spavor broke China’s laws, adding that the two Canadians are still under investigation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said “it is not convenient to disclose more information now.”

Experts have voiced concerns about the likelihood of due process being granted to Kovrig and Spavor, arguing that Beijing courts are little more than an instrument of the state.

Canadians Michael Kovrig (left), and ex-diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been detained in China since early December in a move some experts characterize as “politically motivated,” extrajudiciary detentions, designed to pressure Canada into returning high profile Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou to China.
Canadians Michael Kovrig (left), and ex-diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, have been detained in China since early December in a move some experts characterize as “politically motivated,” extrajudiciary detentions, designed to pressure Canada into returning high profile Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou to China.  (The Associated Press)

Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China, believes the primary motivation behind the men’s detentions is political. Saint-Jacques served as ambassador between 2012 and 2016, when Kovrig also worked for the embassy.

“I think the expectation of the Chinese side is to continue to put pressure on us so at some point we’ll just say … ‘Ms. Meng will be allowed to go back to China,’” he said in a December interview.

“I’m pretty sure if this were to happen, the two Michaels would be deported shortly afterwards.”

Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans said Tuesday he was “totally confident” Kovrig’s detention was motivated purely by politics. Neither Kovrig nor ICG pose any kind of threat to China’s national security, he said. Evans had served as chief executive of the ICG.

Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University College of Asia and the Pacific, called ICG “an impartial international organization that has impeccable credentials for being even-handed in its treatment of nations and their interests.”

“The International Crisis Group is not in any way an anti-China or pro-U.S. organization,” he said in an interview on Wednesday. “It’s internationally … respected. In other words, you would think it’s in China’s interests to be reasonable in its treatment of that organization and its staff.”

Eight Canadians, including teacher Sarah McIver, have been returned to Canada since their arrests, said Global Affairs spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé in a statement.
Eight Canadians, including teacher Sarah McIver, have been returned to Canada since their arrests, said Global Affairs spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé in a statement.  (Facebook)

And Robert Malley, ICG’s president and a former member of the U.S. National Security Council under president Barack Obama, said Thursday that China’s actions advance no “purpose other than the purpose of further raising doubts about China’s reliability as a country that’s going to follow the rule of law.”

Former ambassador Saint-Jacques argued that if the two Canadians are formally charged, they will be as good as guilty.

“In the Chinese system, they can detain you and go through this interrogation phase, and it’s at the end of that that they decide whether they will formally arrest you and formally charge you,” he said. “And if they do that, 99.9 per cent of the time you’re found guilty.”

Beijing has continued to emphasize the legitimacy of its legal process.

“China’s competent authorities took compulsory measures in accordance with the law against the Canadian citizens … because they engaged in activities undermining China’s national security,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying in a Dec. 24 press briefing, urging international authorities to respect China’s “judicial sovereignty.”

“The relevant departments in China have ensured (the detainees’) legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law and offered necessary assistance to the Canadian side to fulfill their consular duties.”

Charles Burton, associate professor of political science at Brock University, suggested the messaging may be partly intended to assuage local anxieties around the independence of the Chinese judiciary.

“China’s domestic audience … have a lot of reservations about the nature of Chinese state power and the lack of justice in the courts, because the courts are under the direction … of the Chinese Communist Party,” Burton said.

The Chinese legal system, he added, provides “no entitlement to human rights or fair due process.”

The idea of a truly independent judiciary is one Chinese authorities do not wish to promote in China, he said, which is reflected in Beijing’s repeated characterizations of the Canadian legal process as illegal, illegitimate and unreasonable.

And last week, the Chinese government issued decisions of the Politburo Standing Committee calling for an enhanced role of the party in the judicial process, which Burton said underscores how the Chinese courts are an organ of state power.

“The Chinese Communist Party enforces its political decisions through the use of administrative law,” he said.

Canadian senators who plan to travel to China this weekend told reporters they will use the trip to advocate for the release of the two men.

With files from Alex Ballingall and The Canadian Press

Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering community issues and Canada’s drug policies. Follow him on Twitter: @perringrauer


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