McCallum Bashed for Suggesting China Could Help Liberals Stay in Power by Avoiding Further ‘Punishments’

McCallum Bashed for Suggesting China Could Help Liberals Stay in Power by Avoiding Further ‘Punishments’
John McCallum in a file photo. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Omid Ghoreishi

Canada’s former ambassador to China is once again in hot water after saying China should avoid escalating tensions with Canada if it doesn’t want the Liberals to lose in the next election.

“Anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives, [who] are much less friendly to China than the Liberals,” McCallum told the South China Morning Post (SCMP). According to the publication, McCallum has given this advice to his former contacts at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warning them that any further trade “punishments” could lead to a Liberal election loss.

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer and several other Conservative MPs spoke out against McCallum’s remarks.

“I forcefully and unequivocally condemn recent comments by high-profile Liberals encouraging the Chinese government to help re-elect the Trudeau government this October,” Scheer said in a statement.

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Erin O’Toole said, “Six months after being fired for incompetence, John McCallum shows that he’s still got the wrong stuff when he asks China to help the Liberals win the election.”

McCallum, a former Liberal cabinet minister, was fired from his post by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau early this year after speaking out of line on the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada on a U.S. extradition request. McCallum provided views favouring the release of Meng. The government has maintained the issue is before the courts and it cannot intervene in the case.

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said on Twitter that McCallum’s most recent remarks are “appalling in so many ways.”

Referencing the SCMP report, former Liberal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh said on Twitter that “Today China is a bully,” adding, “China musn’t (sic), not shouldn’t, antagonize Canada.”

Since Meng’s arrest, China has arrested Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and halted Canadian shipments of canola, meat, and other products.

A request for comment from the Prime Minister’s Office received no response by press time.