Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum speaks during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

John McCallum resigns as Canada’s ambassador to China at PM’s request

McCallum admitted to misspeaking earlier in the week over Huawei Meng Wanzhou’s case

John McCallum has resigned as ambassador to China at the request of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the wake of comments he made about a Huawei executive detained in Canada.

The prime minister did not immediately issue an explanation, but the move comes just hours after the former ambassador was quoted in StarMetro Vancouver as saying it would be “great for Canada” if the United States drops an extradition request against Meng Wanzhou.

“From Canada’s point of view, if (the U.S.) drops the extradition request, that would be great for Canada,” McCallum told the Star.

That comment followed a statement McCallum issued Thursday, saying he misspoke earlier in the week when he discussed Meng Wanzhou’s case with a group of Chinese-language journalists in Toronto, listing several arguments he thought could help her with her legal fight against extradition.

READ MORE: McCallum says he ‘misspoke’ on Huawei executive’s extradition case

The dismissal of McCallum was too little too late for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who had called on Trudeau to fire the ambassador on the grounds that the remarks raised concerns about the politicization of the Meng case.

“It should never have come to this,” Scheer tweeted Saturday. ”Justin Trudeau should have fired his ambassador the moment he interfered in this case. Instead, he did nothing and allowed more damage to be done. More weakness and more indecision from Trudeau on China.”

Trudeau initially came to McCallum’s defence after the first set of controversial remarks became public but before Friday’s comments. The prime minister said earlier this week that his government’s focus was on getting detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor home safely from China and ensuring their rights are respected — and recalling McCallum wouldn’t achieve that.

The PMO declined to comment on exactly what led to the prime minister’s change of heart about McCallum’s fate.

In a news release announcing the ambassador’s resignation, Trudeau thanked McCallum for nearly two decades of service. He noted that McCallum served as minister of immigration and refugees between 2015 and 2017, during the height of Canada’s effort to resettle Syrian refugees.

Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent the country in China as charge d’affaires effective immediately, the prime minister said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Adverse weather forces ferry schedule change

Thursday’s Skidegate to Prince Rupert route affected

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Coast Mountain College announces interim president

Ken Burt, current president and CEO, will say goodbye to CMNT come September

Queen Charlotte crackdown

RCMP target impaired driving amidst rising numbers of the offence

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

B.C. man on trial for daughters’ murders says an intruder broke in

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Most Read