CBC The National: Extradition

Alastair Clarke was recently interviewed by CBC News regarding the potential criminal charges against Peter Nygard. At this point, Mr. Nygard’s son has concerns that his father may leave Canada to escape justice which would force the Government of Canada to make an extradition request. Extradition is a complex area of law; however, based on his studies in International Law at Queen’s Law (Bader International Study Centre @ Herstmonceux Castle) and his professional experience dealing with the intersection of Criminal Law, Immigration Law & extradition law, Alastair was able to provide insight on the potential legal issues.

Please note: this case has been unfolding quickly and the information is only current as of today, 18 SEPT 2020. As noted by CBC Reporter Caroline Barghout, based on an exclusive interview with Peter Nygard’s son:

The son says he’s speaking out now because he’s afraid if he stays quiet, his father’s accusers — including his two brothers — may never get justice.

“My No. 1 goal is for him not to escape,” he said.

He says Nygard spends summers in Falcon Lake in southeastern Manitoba, and would normally head to one of his properties in California or the Bahamas by the third week of September. But with his father under a cloud of sex allegations, the son thinks his father will instead set his sights on a jurisdiction that won’t extradite him if charges are ever authorized.

“He believes that he’s above the law — the law does not apply to him,” said the son, adding he bases that on his father’s past actions.extradition

This point leads directly to the possibility of an extradition request made by the Canadian government, if criminal charges are laid and the accused flees the country.

Winnipeg immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke says unfortunately, the more money a person has, the easier it can be to evade the law.

“It’s entirely possible that in this case … Mr. Nygard may find a country who is sympathetic to his, let’s say, his net worth, to his financial capacity,” said Clarke.

“And so he could find possibly a safe haven, which would be, in my view, quite unfortunate.”

He says if a country doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Canada, there may not be anything the government can do to get a person back, even if charges are laid.

Canada doesn’t track, or keep a record of, people who leave the country, he said. Only entries are monitored.

“If we had the resources in place, that would, in my view, uphold the Canadian rule of law and make sure that alleged criminals are not simply using their private chartered jets, for example — flying to places where we don’t have extradition treaties and escaping the law,” said Clarke. 

Indeed, extradition can be very messy as we have seen in both the Meng Wanzhou case and the Carlos Ghosn case. These are both ongoing legal matters that involve Canada, the United States, China, Japan, Lebanon and France. A friend of Alastair Clarke, lawyer Richard Kurland has spoken on the complexity of these cases, as reported by CBC News:

The fight may be over the technicalities of legal privilege — the right to shield sensitive communications and documentation — but observers of the case say the outcome could prove crucial in Meng’s battle against extradition to the United States.

“This disclosure of who said what to who is critical,” said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver immigration lawyer who has followed the proceedings closely.

“The line here is how much information ought to be revealed in order for the defence to know the case they have to meet and mount their defence, counterbalanced against the right of the state to conduct clandestine service. That’s quite a difficult balance in a case like this.”

For more information, please watch CBC The National on youtube. This story starts at 22:40 of the episode.

Currently, Peter Nygard is in Manitoba and there are no criminal charges. The above is purely speculation. This is an ongoing matter and, as with the other cases above, we will be following this case closely to see if extradition becomes a necessary recourse.