Immigration lawyer says Canada naive about China corruption cases

Thu Jun 4, 2015 10:24am EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada is naive in its response to corruption cases brought by China against Chinese expatriates and economic ties may be discouraging it from questioning Beijing's motives, a Canadian immigration lawyer said in an interview.

Canada is believed to be home to about a quarter of 100 expatriates China is seeking under an operation called "Sky Net," which aims to repatriate Chinese suspected of corruption. Some 5 percent of Canada's population is of Chinese descent.

Last week, Canada's ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, was quoted by China Daily as saying Ottawa was closely collaborating with Beijing on the issue and finalizing an agreement to share assets transferred to Canada by Chinese fugitives.

Attorney David Matas, 71, said many cases being brought against these people are political. He represents three Chinese expatriates facing corruption charges and possible deportation.

"The Canadian government is naive about what the Chinese government is doing, and takes these political anti-corruption drives as real," said Matas, who has been involved in a dozen corruption cases involving Chinese expatriates. "It's a very superficial and unsophisticated approach to what's going on in China."

Matas said Canada's desire to strengthen economic ties with China may also have made officials "not too curious" about Beijing's motives.

But Gordon Houlden, director of the University of Alberta's China Institute, said Saint-Jacques is not naive. "If you have no means to remove people who have committed crimes, you risk becoming a soft touch, where anyone who manages to get a foot touching Canadian soil can stay here forever, possibly with their illegal gains," Houlden said.

"We have to be vigilant to make sure the evidence is real, but to give them all a pass to me would be an abuse of our hospitality as a nation."   Continued...

Human rights lawyer David Matas gestures before the start of a news conference on the release of a report looking into organ harvesting from prisoners in China on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in this July 6, 2006 file photo.    REUTERS/Chris Wattie/Files