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John McCallum fired as ambassador to China after comments on extradition case

Last Updated Jan 26, 2019 at 6:01 pm PDT

Summary

John McCallum has resigned as ambassador to China at the request of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The move follows controversial comments McCallum made about a Huawei executive detained in Canada

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Canada’s ambassador to China has been booted out by the Prime Minister.

In a statement, Justin Trudeau says he asked for, and accepted, John McCallum’s resignation Friday night, adding a replacement is in place. He didn’t immediately explain why he asked McCallum to leave.

The firing comes after McCallum twice made statements about Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou, currently out on bail in Vancouver, including suggestions on ways she could successfully fight extradition to the United States.

While he apologized about his first remarks on Thursday, he was quoted Friday in StarMetro Vancouver, making more comments about the case.

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

RELATED: Canada’s ambassador to China says Huawei’s CFO has a strong case to avoid extradition

Meng was arrested at YVR last month at the request of the U.S., which accuses her of fraud involving illegal deals with Iran. Wednesday is the deadline for the Americans to formally file their extradition request.

Dismissal too late for Conservatives

McCallum’s departure didn’t come early enough for some critics who said he should have been removed from the position after the comments he made earlier this week.

“It should never have come to this,” Scheer wrote in a tweet on 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.”

The Prime Minister had initially defended McCallum, saying that his goal was to get detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor home safely, and pulling McCallum from his position wouldn’t help achieve that goal.

– With files from the Canadian Press