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

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

Rick Morgan, Nanaimo Search and Rescue building director, and Carly Trobridge, president and search manager, turn sod to kick off the start of renovations to NSAR’s headquarters Tuesday, Jan. 26. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Search and Rescue getting started on $2.6-million makeover at Harewood headquarters

Renovation project will increase space for vehicles and improve training and management operations

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Downed hydro line sparks brush fire in Yellow Point

North Oyster firefighters and B.C. Hydro on scene along Yellow Point Road

A concrete seawall built to prevent erosion on a property on Driftwood Drive on Mudge Island. (Islands Trust image)
Appeal Court says Mudge Island homeowners’ seawall has to go

Court decides right to guard against erosion isn’t a ‘privileged’ property right

McDonald’s on Nicol Street in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
McDonald’s in Nanaimo reports COVID-19 case

Employee at Nicol Street location last worked Jan. 17

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read