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

Horse carriage supporters to rally outside city hall

Owner of carriage company plans rally in response to Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion

UVic science and engineering research gets $18.8 million federal funding boost

Funding for engineering, science, sustainability research

Victoria woman competing for role as Maxim cover model

Winning model gets featured spread in magazine, cash price

Songbirds return to their roost in the West Shore

Tips, such as keeping roaming cats from ruffling any feathers, can attract more birds

VIDEO: Fun without sun: Hundreds enjoy Family Fest on Victoria Day

Families enjoy activities in Veterans Memorial Park

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Christmas morning burglar sentenced on Vancouver Island

Justin Redmond Feusse, 20, sentenced to 240 days in jail for Dec. 25 break-and-enter

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Most Read