'Great for Canada' if United States drops extradition request for Huawei CFO

'Great for Canada' if US drops extradition request for Huawei CFO

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday fired his country's ambassador to China after a week of controversy over statements the ambassador made about extradition of a Chinese citizen to the United States.

In a statement Saturday afternoon, Trudeau said he asked for, and accepted, McCallum's resignation Friday night, mere days before a key deadline on the extradition case against Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou.

Mr Trudeau said Jim Nickel, the deputy head of mission at the Canadian embassy in Beijing, would represent the Canadian Government in China.

He cited political comments on the case by US President Donald Trump, the "extraterritorial aspect" of Meng's case, and the fact that Canada did not sign on to the Iran sanctions that Washington wants her extradited for.

He said McCallum's initial comments raised the spectre of political interference in the Meng case, and that by failing to act immediately, Trudeau undercut his own assurances that the case would be handled independently by the courts.

McCallum then popped up in the news once again, saying Friday that it would be "great for Canada" if the USA dropped its extradition request, according to the Toronto Star newspaper.

"Justin Trudeau should have fired his ambassador the moment he interfered in this case".

McCallum's comments sowed confusion about whether the Trudeau government secretly opposes the USA charges against Meng, who was arrested in Vancouver in December, and whether the government was sending two different messages in Ottawa and in Beijing. "I thank him and his family for his service over the past many years".

Soon after Meng's December 1 arrest, China arrested two Canadian citizens on allegations they had endangered China's national security.




But on Thursday he walked back the remarks and said he "misspoke".

Scheer said McCallum caused damage to Canada's reputation by delivering different messages through different media on different days.

Mr. McCallum's remarks surprised many and fueled speculation that Canada might be trying to send a signal to China to reduce tensions.

Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said he felt bad for Mr. McCallum but said it was the right thing to do.

He said China would now know that McCallum was not speaking for the Canadian Government.

Saint-Jacques said he spoke to China's consul general in Montreal on Thursday who reported that China is furious at Canada for arresting Meng on behalf of the U.S which is involved in a trade talks with China.

Trudeau and Freeland have stressed that Canada is a rule of law country and has an extradition treaty with the USA that it must respect.

The prime minister did not immediately issue an explanation, but the move comes after the former ambassador was quoted in StarMetro Vancouver on Friday as saying it would be "great for Canada" if the United States drops an extradition request against a Huawei executive detained in Canada.

Meng, who was granted bail last month but remains under house arrest with strict conditions, is due to start arguing her case next month in a legal battle that could drag for months.

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