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Feds insist damage by John McCallum's comments can be repaired

Last Updated Jan 28, 2019 at 3:22 pm PDT

Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum, arrives to brief members of the Foreign Affairs committee regarding China in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. 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 CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The damage can be repaired, that’s the message from the foreign affairs minister after Canada’s ambassador to China was fired this weekend over his controversial comments amid the diplomatic dispute between Ottawa and Beijing.

Chrystia Freeland says Jonh McCallum was out of line when he weighed in on the extradition case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. This is after McCallum said the executive had a strong case to avoid extradition.

“Ambassador’s McCallum’s comments were inconsistent with the position of the government of Canada,” Freeland adds. “The first and foremost job of any ambassador of our country is to express accurately our government’s position.”

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

The opposition fears the now former ambassador has made the dispute messier by weighing in on the case, adding his comments could put the Canadians arrested in China at risk.

But Freeland insists the damage can be repaired, noting the government remains focused on freeing the men arbitrarily detained.

“it is an absolute priority for me, it’s an absolute priority for the prime minister,” she adds.

WATCH: McCallum forced to resign after remarks on Huawei case


She says the government is sticking with its strategy to release the men while seeking clemency for the third on death row.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice has officially filed criminal charges against the Huawei executive. The U.S. Justice Department released a 13-count indictment against her, telecom giant Huawei, and two subsidiaries.

Wanzhou was arrested in December at YVR Airport at the request of the U.S.