Season 1

Episode 8 : How to legally release Meng Wanzhou in order to bring home Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor: Gar Pardy


Gar Pardy, former Canadian diplomat and Ambassador, argues why it’s high time for Canada to release Mme Meng Wanzhou so China can release Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor who have been held in Chinese jails since December 2018, over 650 days.


Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou who was passing through Vancouver airport in transit on December 1, 2018. Why? Because the United States asked Canada to do so, in order to extradite her to the U.S. so she could be prosecuted for fraud charges. China objected to the arrest and demanded that Canada release Mme. Meng. Ten days later, following Canada’s refusal and comments that it was holding Mme. Meng pursuant to the “rule of law”, China arrested two Canadians for crimes allegedly committed under Chinese national security law. These Canadians are former diplomat Michael Kovrig who was visiting China in his current role as head of the International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor a business person currently residing in China.

Mme. Meng is currently released on bail and essentially under ‘house arrest’ at her mansion in Vancouver. The two Michaels, as they have been referred to by Canadians in letters sent to the Prime Minister, and by the press, have been kept imprisoned in jail cells and there is fear for their health and for their lives.

How does the Extradition Act work?

*This is a very bare bones summary and does not constitute legal advice: Under Canada’s Extradition Act, Canada has legal mechanisms in place enabling it to comply with the request of an extradition partner (there is an extradition treaty between Canada and the U.S.) but there are several preliminary steps. First the Minister of Justice approves the arrest on the basis that the underlying crime forming the basis of the extradition request would also be a crime in Canada, and the individual’s extradition is being requested for prosecution or sentencing by an extradition partner. Second, the individual will appear before an Extradition Judge who based on the preliminary evidence presented will determine whether that evidence (not the same in-depth evidence as in a trial) on its face supports the criminal charge (which would also be a crime in Canada), not whether the criminal charge is proved. If the Extradition Judge is satisfied there is sufficient evidence to support the criminal charge (prosecution or sentencing), the judge will order the individual’s committal for extradition. At this stage, the Minister of Justice determines whether or not to surrender the individual to the extradition partner. Throughout the entire process of extradition proceedings, there is opportunity and discretion for the Minister of Justice to discharge the individual.

You can find

Canada’s Extradition Act here: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/e-23.01/index.html

Letter written June 23, 2020 by prominent Canadians to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arguing that the Minister of Justice should exercise (his) legal authority under the Extradition Act to end extradition proceedings against Mme. Meng in order to negotiate with China the immediate release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor here: Letter to Prime Minister.

Globe and Mail article describing September 15, 2020 letter written by more than 100 former Canadian diplomats, organized by Gar Pardy, urging Prime Minister Trudeau to see to the release of Meng Wanzhou to China so that Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor can be released by China to return to safety in Canada, here: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-more-than-100-ex-diplomats-urge-trudeau-to-swap-meng-for-kovrig-and/

Thanks to OMS Entertainment for Sound Editing.

Episode 7 : Building Up the Human Rights City


Around the world cities are standing up to local and national governments, demanding rights on asylum, climate change, income equality, disability rights and housing. Elizabeth McIsaac, President of the Maytree Foundation tells us how Maytree is taking action in Toronto and Canada during the many COVID-19 urgencies arising in 2020.


When COVID-19 hit Canada in March 2020, Maytree took action to protect the rights of all peoples. In this episode, Elizabeth McIsaac speaks with host Sukanya Pillay about Maytree’s strategies:

To protect people from being evicted.
To provide income security when jobs were being lost or suspended.
On the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB).
In joining with other organizations in strategic litigation to protect the rights of people living in homelessness.
On why Maytree insists on listening and learning from people with lived experiences.
At all levels their focus on foundations and building a human rights culture.
The important roles of civil society and government in a national crisis.

The Maytree Foundation works to end systemic poverty and structural inequalities by building in human rights-based solutions. In this lively discussion, Elizabeth reveals some of Maytree’s effective strategies for building strong vital communities, working with local, provincial and federal governments to end poverty and bringing human rights laws and principles into decision-making that works for all.

Maytree’s website is here: https://maytree.com/

Some of Maytree’s responses to COVID-19 is here: https://maytree.com/what-we-focus-on/income-security/covid-19-crisis-resources-and-responses/

Maytree’s summer 2020 report to the City of Toronto “Engaging Lived and Living Expertise in COVID-19 Recovery” is here: https://maytree.com/publications/engaging-lived-and-living-expertise-in-covid-19-recovery-planning/

Maytree’s 2020 policy backgrounders, submissions, and op-eds on fighting poverty are here: https://maytree.com/publications-2019/

Thanks to OMS Entertainment for Sound Editing

Episode 6 : How COVID-19 Exposes Canadian and Global Injustices against Migrant Agricultural Farm Workers: Syed Hussan


COVID-19 is spreading through populations of migrant agricultural farm workers in Canada. But why? Join host Sukanya Pillay in conversation with Syed Hussan, Executive Director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change in Canada for an in-depth conversation on the topic. Hussan provides crucial insights into the problems of national and global injustices against migrant workers, how we get here, and concrete steps and strategy for change..


Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and Temporary Farm Workers Program creates a system that perpetuates exploitation. Every year, tens of thousands of migrant workers come to work on Canadian farms. But too many migrant farm workers live in squalid conditions, working long hours, doing demanding work for sub-standard pay, and denied fundamental rights and respect for their dignity. Routes to permanent residence or citizenship are obstructed.

Migrant farm workers have enabled Canada’s agricultural industry to become a global force. But COVID-19 is revealing how badly these essential workers have been treated.

The episode begins with brief interviews that shed light on why so many Mexican farmers and rural residents turned to migrant farm worker in Canada over the past fifteen years.

Then Syed Hussan in a detailed interview explains the issues that must change, the specific changes sought, and the strategies employed by the Migrant Farm Workers Alliance. Key to MWAC is that they are a migrant worker led group.

MIgrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC) website: https://migrantworkersalliance.org/

Report of MWAC “UNHEEDED WARNINGS: COVID-19 and Migrant Workers in Canada” is available here: https://migrantworkersalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Unheeded-Warnings-COVID19-and-Migrant-Workers.pdf

To donate: https://migrantworkersalliance.org/donate/

Sound editing by OMS Entertainment

Episode 5 : Are Spies, Spyware and NSO Malware tempting Governments during Coronavirus?


What does the NSO group, spyware or malware or malicious software have to do with fighting coronavirus? Why should we care? Host Sukanya Pillay speaks with John Scott Railton.


We speak today with expert John Scott Railton, an academic and researcher at the internationally renowned Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. His work focuses on technological threats to civil society, including targeted malware operations, cyber militias, and online disinformation. His greatest hits include a collaboration with colleague Bill Marczak that uncovered the the systematic use of Pegasus spyware to target civil society in several countries, including Mexico and the UAE. Pegasus is developed by the Israeli cyber-warfare company NSO Group and sold exclusively to governments. That investigation also uncovered the first iPhone zero-day and remote jailbreak seen in the wild.

John speaks to us about the importance of remaining vigilant if new technologies including contact-tracing is used in combatting coronavirus. He also explains what the NSO group is, and speaks about issues surrounding the murders of journalists and dissidents including journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

To learn more about John’s work you can go here: https://citizenlab.ca/author/jsrailton/
To read some of Citizen Lab’s work on NSO software Pegasus you can go here: https://citizenlab.ca/2019/10/nso-q-cyber-technologies-100-new-abuse-cases/

You can watch the clips with Edward Snowden from a TRT WORLD story here:

and an Al Jazeera story here:

Thanks to University of Windsor Faculty of Law and students for their support.

Sound editing by OMS Entertainment

Episode 4 : ACLU’s Esha Bhandari on protecting American civil liberties during coronavirus


Senior Staff Attorney Esha Bhandari, who’s coordinating ACLU’s cross-country COVID-19 efforts, speaks out about the high stakes of expanded government powers relative to civil rights and civil liberties, and ACLU’s work to prevent the weaponizing of COVID-19.


We start remembering the late John Lewis RIP.

And then, Esha Bhandari of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) walks us through understanding the impact and implications of Federal and State government responses on civil rights and civil liberties.

She speaks about contact tracing, tech companies and ACLU’s proactive white paper with guidelines and surveillance, Esha also fills us in on ACLU litigation and efforts regarding voting rights, reproductive rights, racial injustice, housing, detention and immigration detention and more.

We’re grateful to Esha for taking time out of her intensely full schedule to speak with us — and so many are grateful to everyone at the ACLU for the work they do inside the United States for equality and justice, and through the precedents of their work, the contributions they make in the world.

For more information on the work of Esha Bhandari and the ACLU, check out these four links:

ACLU COVID19 Landing Page: https://www.aclu.org/news/topic/covid-19-pandemic-response/

ACLU Model on Incarceration and COVID19 Deaths: https://www.aclu.org/news/smart-justice/new-model-shows-reducing-jail-population-will-lower-covid-19-death-toll-for-all-of-us/

ACLU White Paper: The Limits of Location Tracking in an Epidemic: https://www.aclu.org/report/aclu-white-paper-limits-location-tracking-epidemic?redirect=aclu-white-paper-limits-location-tracking-epidemic

ACLU White Paper: Principles for Technology-Assisted Contact-Tracing: https://www.aclu.org/report/aclu-white-paper-principles-technology-assisted-contact-tracing

Episode 3 : What’s Canada doing right and wrong on Coronavirus? Blair Bigham


Toronto emergency room doctor Dr. Blair Bigham speaks with host Sukanya Pillay going behind the scenes to tell us what Canada did, didn’t do, and should do for the next wave of COVID-19 or the next pandemic.


So far Canada is doing much better in its COVID-19 numbers than our neighbour the United States, but that’s a pretty low bar. Why were nursing homes ravaged by the virus? What about prisons? Why are migrant farm workers being infected or dying? What did Canada do or not do following the lessons from SARS and other epidemics? Did we have enough Personal Protective Equipment? Did we implement the right lessons from SARS or not? What can we do for this country and the world going forward to face the next wave or the next pandemic?

You can write to me, Sukanya Pillay here: justplanetpodcast@gmail.com

For more on Blair Bigham, physician and writer and journalist, you can go to his website here: https://blairbigham.com/
and follow him on twitter here: @BlairBigham

Sound editing by: OMS Entertainment
Additional grant from: University of Windsor Faculty of Law

Episode 2 : Syria Besieged by COVID-19 and War


Host Sukanya Pillay speaks with expert, author and journalist Sam Dagher about the Syrian conflict, the Assad family’s iron rule, proxy war and interest of foreign States in the conflict, and the recent hope-inducing trial from Germany finally bringing alleged regime torturers to justice.


Join us for our 2nd episode of JUST PLANET where Host Sukanya Pillay interviews award-winning journalist, author and expert on Syria Sam Dagher.

In the 1st few minutes: Sukanya sets up the discussion bringing us up to speed on the July 7th, 2020 Russia-China veto of extending UN Security Council Resolution 2503, ending ability to provide humanitarian assistance including food supplies to IDLIB, the beleaugered northwest province in Syria. Sukanya also tells us a bit about the July 7th, 2020 report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry into the Syrian Arab Republic, finding 52 attacks by all factions against civilians and civilian infrastructure. The report finds possible war crimes and crimes against humanity and will be presented to the UN General Assembly on July 14th – you can access an advanced copy HERE.

And the Heart of interview with Sam Dagher:

In this episode, award-winning author, journalist and expert on Syria, Sam Dagher takes us:

— behind the scenes into the Assad regime in Syria

— the current conflict

— the role of States in the region and internationally

— how the Arab Spring affected Syria

— how the regime leveraged its intelligence on terrorists, and

— how a groundbreaking new trial that began in April exemplifies hope and the resilience and courage of the Syrian people who fought against all odds to bring torturers to justice.

Sam Dagher is an American-Lebanese journalist and author who has worked in the Middle East for more than 16 years. He was the only reporter for a major Western media outlet based fulltime in Damascus in 2012-2014. He was briefly detained by Assad’s henchmen in an underground prison and later expelled for reporting deemed unfavorable to the regime. Dagher contributes to The Atlantic and before that was senior correspondent at TheWall Street Journal and previously reported for The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Agence France Presse. He has covered some of the biggest stories since 9/11 including the conflict in Iraq and Arab Spring uprisings. The Wall Street Journal submitted Dagher’s work from Syria for the Pulitzer Prize and other journalism awards. His book “Assad or We Burn the Country: How One Family’s Lust for Power Destroyed Syria” was picked as one of the best of 2019 by The Economist, The Guardian and Kirkus Reviews. Dagher is fluent in Arabic, French and Spanish and conversant in Russian.

Write to me at JustPlanetPODCAST@gmail.com.

© 2020 Sukanya Pillay | Produced by Sukanya Pillay & SUKIMEDIA.

Sound edited by OMS Entertainment.

Initial funding support – University of Windsor Faculty of Law.

Episode 1 : Patriotism, COVID-19 and Sheltering in Place


Some true patriot love & violence and then a deep dive on covid-19 and self-isolation, and sheltering in place with special guest Leilani Farha, global expert and FMR UN Special Rapporteur on COVID-19 and ‘Sheltering in Place.’


JOIN US FOR OUR FIRST SHOW WITH HOST SUKANYA PILLAY reflecting this Canada Day not only on the brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States, but on Canada’s own record of anti-black and anti-indigenous racism.

NEXT, WE SPEAK WITH LEILANI FARHA, who just finished 6 years as the UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO HOUSING 8 weeks ago, is the lead in the award-winning documentary “PUSH”, and head of the global movement to make “THE SHIFT”.

We catch up with Leilani in her final weeks as UN Special Rapporteur, in the midst of the unprecedented pandemic, COVID-19 shutting down the world and leaders everywhere ordering people to “Shelter in Place” and “Stay Home”.  But how do you do that if you don’t have a home? How do you self-isolate if you live shoulder-to-shoulder with others in over-cramped quarters? Without clean drinking water or access to food or health care? Leilani Farha speaks about her experiences in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, the epidemic of insecure housing and the commodification of housing by big business that’s pricing ordinary people out of a place to live, and in turn, undermining their dignity, affecting their health care, and harming their prospects for employment and relationships with family and community.

Tell us what you think!  Write to host Sukanya at justplanetpodcast@gmail.com

Just Planet – Trailer


Just Planet – Trailer


We are excited to bring you Season 1 of Just Planet – Laws, Life and Global Crises.