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

Columbia River Treaty: ‘It is going to get tough’

B.C. negotiator tells Nelson meeting that talks are cordial, so far

Castlegar teen cited for drinking and driving near Rossland

The 17 year old put his car in a ditch.

Crown declines to lay charges in Castlegar spree

RCMP were called to eight incidents regarding the same person in a six hour time frame.

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

Moose tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in northwest Montana

This is the first time the disease has been detected in the species in Montana

B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite and New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert appear in the documentary

John Mann, singer and songwriter of group Spirit of the West dead at 57

Mann died peacefully in Vancouver on Wednesday from early onset Alzheimer’s

VIDEO: B.C. high school’s turf closed indefinitely as plastic blades pollute waterway

Greater Victoria resident stumbles on plastic contamination from Oak Bay High

B.C. mayor urges premier to tweak road speeds in an ‘epidemic of road crash fatalities’

Haynes cites ICBC and provincial documents in letter to John Horgan

South Cariboo Driver hits four cows due to fog

The RCMP’s investigation is ongoing

B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

Change to evidence rules next to save money, David Eby says

1898 Yukon gold rush photo featuring Greta Thunberg look-alike sends internet into tailspin

Jokes erupted this week after a 120-year-old photo taken by Eric A. Hegg surfaced from archives

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid vessels set sail for B.C. from Romania

Two Island Class ferries to be in use by 2020

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

Most Read