Huawei CFO Meng's family granted federal travel exemption to visit Canada
Published Wednesday, January 13, 2021 1:34PM EST Last Updated Wednesday, January 13, 2021 9:06PM EST
OTTAWA -- Immigration Canada has granted the husband and two children of detained Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou COVID-19 travel exemptions to visit her in Vancouver.
Meng’s lawyers stated in court Tuesday that her husband Liu Xiaozong and two children applied for the exemption to travel from China at the end of 2020. Liu arrived in October and was followed by the children in December. They remain in Canada.
Syrine Khoury, a spokesperson for the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ office, confirmed to CTV News in a statement that “Ms. Meng’s family was authorized by IRCC officials to travel to Canada.”
“Because of the nature of the case and how it's high profile I am sure this has landed most likely on the desk of the minister of immigration,” says former Canadian ambassador to China Guy St. Jacques, adding that discussions would have also taken place with Global Affairs Canada and the Office of the Prime Minister.
CTV News asked the Prime Minister’s Office if they were aware of Meng’s family applying to come to Canada. They declined to comment.
Foreign nationals are currently barred from non-essential travel to Canada unless they are visiting immediate family members who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Meng Wanzhou is not a Canadian citizen and has not been a permanent resident since 2009.
However, under the current COVID-19 travel restrictions, Immigration Canada can grant travel exemptions for the purpose of reunification with an immediate family member who is in Canada on a temporary basis.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Rob Oliphant defended IRCC’s decision on CTV’s Power Play, saying, “Canada is a country of the rule of law… we do not let whether we like someone or dislike someone get in the way of us absolutely fulfilling our responsibilities.”
Toronto-based immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges says the decision to grant travel exemptions is highly discretionary. “Many people who want to come to Canada for very legitimate reasons, to reunite with family members here, are being refused every day,” says Desloges.
Conservative shadow minister for immigration Raquel Dancho called the decision outrageous and says “the Liberals seemingly rolled out the red carpet to allow Meng Wanzhou’s family to fly into Canada and be reunited for the holidays.”
While Meng’s family arrived in Canada for a visit, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor marked two years in a Chinese prison in December.
Spavor last received consular access on Dec. 14 and Kovrig on Dec. 15. Both meetings were held virtually with Canadian Ambassador Dominic Barton. Neither of them was granted any consular access between January and November of last year, and since the pandemic what few meetings there have been are virtual.
Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in China in December 2018 and later charged with espionage. The Canadian government calls their detention arbitrary and many in the diplomatic community view it as retaliation for the arrest of Meng.
Meng is facing extradition to the United States on fraud charges – which she and Huawei deny – and remains under house arrest in Vancouver.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's David Molko