Justin Trudeau axes Canadian ambassador to China over Huawei exec remarks

Trudeau fires Canada's ambassador to China

Trudeau fires Canada's ambassador to China

On Dec 10, China seized two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and tour operator Michael Spavor, on national security grounds.

McCallum reportedly said Friday that if the USA and China were to reach an agreement, it should also lead to the release of the two Canadians.

"Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum's resignation as Canada's Ambassador to China", said Trudeau in a statement Saturday.

John McCallum made the remarks about an extradition case involving a senior executive from the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, at the request of the US, which has angered China.

After a week in which he twice weighed in on a high-stakes extradition case, John McCallum is out as Canada's ambassador to China - although for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, the damage has already been done.

For now, Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent Canada in China as charge d'affaires.

On Thursday, he said he misspoke with those statements.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has fired Canada's ambassador to China following his controversial comments about an extradition case.

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Trudeau's statement saluted McCallum's decades in public service.

McCallum told StarMetro Vancouver on Friday that if the US and China reach an agreement on Meng's case, the deal should include the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians now detained in China. A prominent figure in Canadian politics, McCallum held several cabinet roles and was the immigration minister who oversaw the surge in Syrian refugees Canada took in under Trudeau. A third Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, was sentenced to death by a Chinese court after initially receiving a jail term for alleged drug smuggling.

Scheer said McCallum caused damage to Canada's reputation by delivering different messages through different media on different days.

"He really made it untenable for the prime minister to sustain him (in his post) for any length of time and he had to go", Burton said by telephone, suggesting Trudeau should quickly appoint a special envoy to handle the dispute.

McCallum's remarks surprised many and fuelled speculation that Canada might be trying to send a signal to China to reduce tensions. "And the United States is highly aware of that", he said.

McCallum's remarks were immediately panned by opposition parties and others for seeming to undercut the strict hands-off approach to judicial matters touted by the Canadian government.

Canada arrested Meng in Vancouver on December 1.

Meanwhile, US prosecutors are expected to file a formal extradition request with Canada soon.

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

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