Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho has lashed out over the government’s decision to grant travel exemptions to Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s family to visit her in Vancouver, when Canadians are being told to avoid all non-essential travel.
“This is an insult to the millions of Canadians who were told by this government not to visit loved ones,” Dancho said in a statement on Jan. 13.
“The Liberal government broke their promise to Canadians and their families abroad who have been separated for nearly a year and unable to reunite because of the slow, uncompassionate family reunification process they put in place.”
Immigration Canada granted Meng’s husband and two children travel exemptions to visit her in Vancouver, where she is being held under house arrest as hearings for her extradition to the United States continue.
Meng’s husband, Liu Xiaozong, arrived in October 2020, while the children arrived in December. They have remained in Canada since.
Under the current COVID-19 travel restrictions, foreign nationals are banned from coming to Canada for non-essential purposes, although exemptions can be granted to the immediate family members of a temporary resident to come to Canada for reunification. Meng is not a Canadian citizen and has not been a permanent resident since 2009.
Meanwhile, Canada has obtained an agreement to allow greater family and consular access for Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China since shortly after Meng was arrested at the Vancouver airport on a U.S. extradition request in December 2018.
The government has pushed for increased consular access to Kovrig and Spavor but this is the first time it has mentioned access for the men’s families.
Syrine Khoury, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, confirmed that Canada granted travel exemptions late last year to Meng’s husband and two children to visit her in Vancouver, but did not say if that was part of the agreement reached to allow more family access for Kovrig and Spavor.
“Ms. Meng’s family was authorized by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) officials to travel to Canada,” Khoury said in an email statement.
“As in all cases, this decision was made in accordance with Canadian laws and in strict compliance with the current travel OiCs (orders in council).”
Dancho noted in her statement that Spavor and Kovrig “have been denied basic human rights and detained in communist Chinese prisons for over two years, with limited access to their families and consular support.”
Washington wants Meng extradited to face bank fraud charges. She allegedly lied to multiple financial institutions about Huawei’s business dealing with Iran, leading the banks to risk violating U.S. sanctions on the Middle East country.
Meng was released soon after her arrest and has since been under house arrest in her $13 million mansion in Vancouver.
Her defence lawyers recently applied for a further relaxation of her bail conditions. They want her to be allowed to leave her home outside the hours of her curfew without being accompanied by private security staff, who they say put her at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
Justice William Ehrcke of the B.C. Supreme Court said he will reserve his decision and raised the possibility of issuing it at the end of January.
Meng’s case is scheduled to wrap up by April.
With files from The Canadian Press