Skip to content

Border executive had no worries about officer conduct related to Meng Wanzhou case


VANCOUVER — A former executive with the Canada Border Services Agency says she never had concerns about the motivations or conduct of border officers involved in the examination of Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested at the Vancouver airport on behalf of the United States.

Roslyn MacVicar served as the director general for the border agency in the Pacific region at the time of Meng's arrest on Dec. 1, 2018, though she told B.C. Supreme Court on Friday she was out of town at the time. 

MacVicar, now retired, testified she doesn't recall giving her staff specific direction about record keeping related to Meng's questioning at the airport, but upper management would have known that was expected. 

"I would have (been) speaking to the issue of how important it was that we had a full record of what had occurred," she said.

"What I usually say with my senior managers is that, you know, we have an obligation to ensure that we have a record and they would have known that I expected that there be a record as it related to (Meng's) arrival."

Nicole Goodman, who oversaw passenger operations for the border agency, told the court this week that MacVicar advised her not to make additional records about the case in the weeks following Meng's arrest because the notes could be part of an access to information request.

MacVicar told court the only concern she had about record keeping in Meng's case would have related to questions about issues not directly connected to the border agency's process and role in what happened. 

The Vancouver airport is a high-profile port of entry and there was increasing media coverage in the days after Meng's arrest, she said.

Over time, coverage "started morphing into different areas, all of which had nothing to do with what was necessarily the CBSA process," she testified.

"I would have been cautioning my senior managers about, you know, trying to stick to ... what was the CBSA process, what was the role there."

MacVicar is testifying as part of an evidence-gathering hearing in which Meng's lawyers are honing in on the circumstances of their client's arrest to support an abuse of process argument they're set to make next year.

The Huawei CFO is wanted on fraud and conspiracy charges over allegations that she and Huawei put a bank at risk of violating U.S. sanctions in Iran, allegations both Meng and the company deny. 

The court heard Thursday that Meng's lawyers are planning to introduce a new legal argument alleging she was subjected to an abuse of process and she should be freed, in addition to three ongoing branches of arguments. 

Her legal team has so far alleged their client was used as a bargaining chip for political purposes by U.S. President Donald Trump, that U.S. officials misled their Canadian counterparts by leaving key information out of their record of the case, and that Meng's detention and arrest were unlawful. 

Her lawyers allege the RCMP and CBSA conspired to search and question Meng at the behest of U.S. officials under the guise of a routine immigration exam. 

MacVicar testified Friday she believed there were legitimate security questions to ask Meng before her arrest by RCMP.  

The court has previously heard that passcodes to Meng's phones were improperly shared by the border agency with the Mounties.

Under cross-examination by Meng's lawyer Mona Duckett, MacVicar agreed that the passcodes being shared was a significant incident.

Duckett suggested based in part on Goodman's testimony that MacVicar gave a direction to "start gathering but don't create" additional records after learning of the passcode-sharing error, an assertion she denied.

"I would never say that. I did not say that, and it's inconsistent with anything I've ever said in my capacity as a public servant. I can't comment on, you know, how somebody heard something that I said, but I would not have said that."

MacVicar also testified it was not an "everyday occurrence" that the RCMP or other law enforcement agencies were involved in border services operations, but it's not unusual either.

"Because we have a collaborative relationship with the RCMP and they're kind of co-located" in the airport, she said.

The court heard her lawyers plan to file the fourth branch of argument on Monday, but further details of the argument weren't shared.

The extradition case is ongoing amid media reports that the U.S. Department of Justice is discussing a deal that would see Meng admit to some wrongdoing and in exchange be allowed to leave Canada. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2020.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks