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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Car giveaway set for MEI on Friday

One lucky alumni member will receive a new Mazda 3

How would crowded Fraser Valley hospitals deal with patient surge? Officials won’t say

Amid coronavirus case and crowding issues, health officials won’t say where more patients would go

Sasquatch Mountain Aussie Day celebration raises $800

Proceeds of bikini runs, toonie tosses and more go to wildfire victims

Abbotsford Police issue 81 speeding tickets in school zones over 2 days

‘30 in 30’ traffic-enforcement blitz took place last Thursday and Friday

Salvation Army kettle campaign raises $121,000 in Abbotsford

Christmas fundraising up $20,000 over previous year

VIDEO: Chilliwack arson victim lights up rural property like a runway

Chris Thompson had enough after twice having barns torched in suspicious circumstances

Party bus door fault for years ahead of Langley woman’s death: Coroner

Tuesday report classifed Chelsea James’ death accidental, but was critical of bus inspection process

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Most Read