John McCallum has been fired.
“Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s Ambassador to China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement on the heels of McCallum’s about-face on comments made about Canada’s diplomatic stand-off with China.
Although there was not a specific reason given for McCallum’s firing, the former Liberal immigration minister has had a tumultuous few days.
Last week in Markham, Ont., McCallum hosted a press conference that only Chinese-language journalists were allowed to attend.
McCallum was quoted saying Meng Wanzhou, an executive at the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, had a strong case to fight extradition to the United States and listed several arguments he thought could help her with her case.
McCallum appeared to agree with the communist Chinese government’s narrative that Meng was arrested for political reasons.
“I think she has quite good arguments on her side,” McCallum told Chinese media at the closed-door meeting.
Despite the planned press conference and prepared remarks, McCallum later said he misspoke with those statements when confronted by national media outlets.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said the comments merited McCallum’s dismissal, prompting a defense from Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
“Here we have the spokesperson of the Government of Canada weighing in on an independent judicial case. Our judicial systems, our proceedings, need to have integrity around it,” Scheer said.
“To have this type of comment is completely unacceptable and he needs to be held responsible for his actions.”
It seemed like McCallum was in the clear, and was still the prime minister’s good books.
However, a few days later he told a reporter it would be “great” if the United States dropped its case against Meng.
“From Canada’s point of view, if (the US) drops the extradition request, that would be great for Canada,” he said.
McCallum’s latest remarks in support of the communist Chinese government was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Shortly after, McCallum was fired.
Meng is currently out on bail — living in her luxurious Vancouver home with freedom of movement during the day.
In retaliation, the Chinese government arrested several Canadians shortly after she was taken into custody, depriving them of the right to a lawyer.
One of these Canadians, Robert Schellenberg, was sentenced to death in a hastily organized retrial.
The US Department of Justice is expected to a file a formal request to extradite Meng by the end of the month.