Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou arrives home after a court appearance in Vancouver. (CP)

Media asks court to approve broadcast, webcast of Meng’s extradition hearings

Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, is free on bail and living in Vancouver while awaiting the extradition hearing

A media consortium is asking the British Columbia Supreme Court to allow video and web broadcasting of the extradition hearings of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, arguing there’s significant public interest in the case.

Daniel Coles, a lawyer who represents 13 domestic and international media outlets including The Canadian Press, told Justice Heather Holmes on Wednesday that broadcasting the proceedings would “engage with the very meaning of open and accessible justice in the modern era.”

Lawyers for Meng and Canada’s attorney general are opposing the request but have not yet presented their arguments.

Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, is free on bail and living in one of her homes in Vancouver while awaiting the extradition hearing.

She was detained by border officials at Vancouver’s airport last December, then arrested by the RCMP at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges.

Meng is fighting the order and has denied any wrongdoing. Her lawyers argue her arrest and detention were unlawful.

Coles says comments by Canadian, American and Chinese politicians and diplomats show the case has been politicized.

“Depending on what happens in this case, there are political ramifications,” Coles said.

READ MORE: Trump’s national security adviser says Canada should reject Huawei telecom bid

The court’s public gallery is often full, he said, and many members of the public have an interest in the case but are unable to watch it unfold in the courtroom because they don’t live in Vancouver or are tied up with jobs and other obligations.

They range from canola farmers affected by Chinese sanctions to the friends of the families of two Canadians detained by China, decisions widely seen as retaliation against Canada for Meng’s arrest.

Broadcasting the proceedings would give them access to the court, unfiltered by a reporter’s observations, he said.

In an affidavit, Treena Wood, news director at CBC Vancouver, makes the argument for access.

“The ability to view a live-stream would effectively remove the reporter/broadcaster filter because the viewer’s experience would be akin to sitting in a courtroom,” the affidavit says.

And in cases where clips are used in news broadcasts, which would inevitably involve editorial selection, viewers would at least be afforded a more direct experience of the court, she says.

A series of hearings in the case is set to begin in January and Coles is requesting authorization for the first one, or portions of it, to be broadcast. He also wants to apply again for access to more hearings next year.

Court rules give discretion to a judge to authorize video recording or broadcasting but do not provide a legal framework for making that decision, Coles said.

He urged Holmes to consider the principles set out by a Supreme Court of Canada decision known as Dagenais v. Canadian Broadcasting Corp. While that case addressed publication bans, it has been used several time as a broader test for assessing press freedom in judicial proceedings, he added.

Coles argued the Meng case passes the test, because broadcasting proceedings poses no “real and substantial risk” to the administration of justice.

The courts have also demonstrated an interested in increasing accessibility, he said, mentioning a pilot project of the B.C. Court of Appeal to webcast select proceedings.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Nanaimo neighbourhood tackles ‘field of filth’

Community takes nuisance drug house clean-up into its own hands

Island teachers say they need more time to prepare for fall reopening

Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association says class schedules need to be reworked for cohort model

Frustration grows in Ucluelet as locked gate puts school garden in peril

‘You walk by there and it’s just dead. Everything’s dry and yelling for water’

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

RCMP looking for missing teen in Comox Valley

Jenessa Shacter was last seen going for a walk in downtown Courtenay

UPDATED: Three injured in Douglas Street crash involving impaired driver

Driver failed sobriety test, passenger arrested for possession of a controlled substance

Victoria council avoids 2020 deficit by deferring over $20 million in capital projects

The city will move ahead with hiring for two new positions

Most Read