McCallum Fired Because He Didn’t Toe Government Line on China: Freeland

January 28, 2019 Updated: January 29, 2019

OTTAWA—Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says John McCallum was fired as Canada’s ambassador to China because he didn’t toe the government’s line on the arrest of a Chinese telecommunications executive.

McCallum apologized last week for misspeaking about the extradition case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver at the request of the United States, which wants to extradite her on fraud charges.

He was then fired after telling a Vancouver newspaper it would be “great for Canada” if the United States dropped its extradition request for Meng.

John McCallum, then Canada’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, at a meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in Ottawa on May 2, 2017. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
John McCallum, then Canada’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, at a meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in Ottawa on May 2, 2017. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

Freeland says McCallum’s comments were inconsistent with the position of the government, which is that Meng is the subject of a legal proceeding that is not politically motivated.

She says that made it untenable for McCallum to continue in the job.

She says the government remains focused on gaining the release of former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, who have been arrested on vague suspicions of violating Chinese national security.

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