Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has fired Canada's ambassador to China following comments the envoy made to media about the case of a Huawei executive detained in Canada on a US arrest warrant.
"Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum's resignation as Canada's ambassador to China," Trudeau said in a statement Saturday.
McCallum had come under fire this week when he told Chinese media in Toronto that Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, had a strong case against extradition to the United States.
The daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications giant, Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport in December on a US arrest warrant for allegedly violating sanctions on Iran. She is currently out of jail on bail. The US government has until Wednesday to file an extradition request.
The case has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing. In an apparent retaliation, China has since arrested two Canadians. Earlier this month, a Chinese court also overturned a 15-year jail term and issued a death sentence for a Canadian in a drug case.
In the interview with Chinese media, McCallum said Meng had "quite good arguments on her side" against extradition and suggested the case was politically motivated.
"One, political involvement by comments from Donald Trump in her case. Two, there's an extraterritorial aspect to her case, and three, there's the issue of Iran sanctions which are involved in her case, and Canada does not sign on to these Iran sanctions," McCallum said.
Trump had previously said he would consider intervening in Meng's case if he got a good trade deal with China.
On Thursday, McCallum walked back his comments and said he misspoke after coming under pressure from the opposition and political pundits for interfering in the case and undermining a unified Canadian position.
But on Friday, in an interview with the Toronto Star, he said it would be "great for Canada" if the United States dropped its extradition request.
Those comments appeared to be enough for Trudeau, who had earlier dismissed calls to sack McCallum, a former Liberal cabinet minister.
No political interference: Freeland
Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland have emphasized that Canada's government can't politically interfere in a judicial case. Canada has an extradition treaty with the United States.
Andrew Scheer, the leader of the main opposition Conservative Party, said Trudeau should have fired McCallum earlier for politicizing the Meng case.
Scheer said the envoy had undermined Canada's position with China by delivering different and conflicting messages.
"Mr. McCallum's remarks were continuing to cause confusion about Canada's position. On a matter of this importance, the Canadian government has to speak with a single, clear voice," Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau, told The Associated Press.
The United States has pressed allied governments to ensure wireless and internet providers do not use equipment from Huawei, one of the world's largest telecommunications companies. The EU has also expressed concern Huawei technology could be used as a backdoor for spying.
Read more: Huawei spying in Poland raises calls for boycott
Huawei was founded in 1987 by a former officer with the People's Liberation Army and is alleged by the United States to have ties with the military and intelligence services. China and Huawei deny the charges.
cw/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
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