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By John Weston 12 Dec, 2017
The story of John Chang hit the news last week, one of many recent cases involving Canadians imprisoned in China, at a time when the Justin Trudeau Government is trying hard to court Beijing for an improved trading relationship. 

CTV reported that Mr. Chang and his wife, owners of a Lulu Island Winery in Richmond, B.C. were arrested in Shanghai in March 2016 while visiting suppliers and agents, accused of under-reporting the value of wine they export to China. http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/china-s-ambassador-detention-of-b-c-winery-owners-should-not-be-polit... Their daughter Amy has done a masterful job of involving senior Canadian officials and the media to focus attention on her parents’ plight.

The incident reminded me of one of my most popular (and useful) articles, a piece called Getting Out of Foreign Jails. I wrote it to address the recurring pattern that arises when situations like Mr. Chen’s occur. Inevitably, the family has never faced such an array of problems before. Its natural tendency is to rely on our own government for help. This reliance typically generates positive short-term results but, to achieve a positive outcome, the family and friends have go go beyond reliance on the home government. The article Careful Strategies are Needed when Helping Canadians Incarcerated Abroad,   ran last year in The Vancouver Sun. Here it is again: http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/careful-strategies-are-needed-when-helping-canadians-inca...
By John Weston 06 Dec, 2017
What did you think about when you got up this morning? I was putting the finishing touches on a new website. You were doing something else. It’s safe to say that neither of us was thinking about abandoned vessels.

But the saga of this problem, its snarling of government processes, the waste it caused, and the environmental damage - called out for change. Here’s what some of us did - and why persistence and good strategy can pay off to change government policy and make things right.

As Member of Parliament, I saw the blight caused by irresponsible people who dumped their boats like parkland litter. They left a trail of pollution, eyesores, harmful waste, and legal liability. Directionless governments floundered to assert or evade responsibility. In one case, a single person acquired and casually abandoned four separate vessels off the coast of Squamish, B.C.

I introduced Private Member’s Bill C-695 in the House of Commons in 2015, reflecting input from a wide variety of people who cared about the health of our seas, tourism, navigational safety, and saving taxpayers’ funds. The issue seemed intractable, cutting across various departments within the Federal and provincial governments, as well as local government jurisdiction. Governments were loath to take responsibility. Abandoned vessels can be costly to remove and give rise to various types of liability. My Bill proposed for the first time that anyone who intentionally abandoned a vessel be subject to a fine or jail term. It attracted support from mariners, local governments, the Transport Minister, the Conservative Party of Canada, and even my Liberal opponent in the last election.

The Bill didn’t pass - it died with the last Federal Government, in June 2015. But the story has a positive outcome. The current Liberal Government contributed formal funding to deal with the problem. It created a program to educate boat owners how responsibly to manage and recycle their vessels, rather than merely abandon them. And in October of this year, it introduced legislation to do exactly what my bill proposed - make persons accountable for their actions. The new Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act will for the first time make it explicitly illegal to abandon boats, while empowering the government to go after the owners of the 600 derelict vessels already polluting the country’s waterways.
If the bill becomes law, Individuals who abandon a boat can face fines up to $300,000 and a six-month jail term, while corporations can be fined as much as $6 million.

People and companies who share my concerns about government and public affairs should take heart. With perseverance, good strategy, and the collaboration of like-minded allies, you can change even the most complicated of government policies.

I hope readers enjoy a 2018 filled with health and happiness and, before that, a wonderful Christmas. Us? Our family will gather in both Ottawa and West Vancouver to celebrate this special season.
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What People Are Saying....

Rod Senft

 Managing Partner, Tricor Pacific Capital Inc.

“As a lawyer myself , I have been on both sides of the solicitor-client equation. I have been on the Management Committee of a Major Law Firm and a client, as Managing Partner of one of Western Canada’s leading Private Equity Funds. I believe clients want a determined, highly skilled professional advocate with well educated mind. Having seen John in action as my Member of Parliament, I know clients will get the benefit of these qualities with him as their lawyer.” 

Sganisim Simaugit 

Chief Mountain 

“My Nisga’a Eagle tribal name is Sganisim Simaugit Sagaween, also known as Chief Mountain.  

I first met John around 1999. He came into my life firstly as a lawyer who represented us in the British Columbia courts with the “Chief Mountain Challenge” to provisions of the Nisga’a Treaty.  

I liked John right away and he soon became a trusted friend. In early 2000 the Chief Mountain Wilp (Tribal House) adopted John as an honorary member of our Tribal Wilp. John’s Tribal House name is “Ama Dax Gadum Algahum Skag” - “Talking Eagle”. 

I believe John Weston is a man with a good heart for everyone. I support and stand beside him with full confidence.”

Mehrdad Rahbar

President, Vernacular Development Corp. 

“From 2009 through 2015, John served as the first ever Canadian Government Liaison to the Canadian-Iranian People. As an active member of our community, during his 6 years in Ottawa, we had real representation and a caring voice not only as an MP but as a friend of our community. I worked along with a handful of other volunteers to guide John in this challenging role."

"John consistently worked hard to learn the needs of our community, made himself readily available, and nimbly drew together governmental and non-governmental groups to create common ground. He made it clear that a client would be fortunate to have John on the team to navigate Government Relations and legal issues.”

Contact John Weston

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