Sunday, 5 December 2021

Justin Trudeau fires Canada’s ambassador to China

(The Canadian Press via AP: Paul Chiasson)

TORONTO: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has fired Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum.

It follows controversial comments Mr McCallum made about an extradition case involving a senior executive from the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Trudeau said in a statement he had asked John McCallum to step down, but did not offer a reason. The detention of Meng Wanzhou, at the request of the US, angered China and soured Canada’s relations with Beijing.

Meng, Huawei’s chief financial officer, is accused by the US of evading sanctions on Iran. Both she and Huawei deny those allegations.

In a statement, the Canadian prime minister said: “Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s ambassador to China.” The veteran diplomat, Mr Trudeau added, had served Canadians honourably and with distinction with many positions in cabinet.

He also thanked the diplomat and his family for their service. McCallum caused controversy on Tuesday when he publicly argued that the US extradition request for Ms Meng was seriously flawed.

The next day he issued a statement saying that he “misspoke” and regretted that his comments had created “confusion”. But on Friday he was quoted as saying it would be “great for Canada” if the US dropped the request.

McCallum was appointed Canada’s ambassador to China in 2017, stepping down as the immigration minister. Canadian media say he was eager to take over the posting because of his strong personal connection to China.

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