Written by Shane Arriola

What happened?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a shock move, has fired former Canadian Ambassador to China, John McCallum. This follows controversial comments he made regarding the extradition case involving a senior executive from the Chinese telecom giant, Huawei.

Ms Meng, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, is accused by the US of evading sanctions on Iran in which she, together with the telecom, has denied. Mr McCallum caused controversy last Tuesday (22 Jan) when he publicly argued that Ms Meng has a case against the US and how the extradition request was seriously flawed. Additionally, he further commented about how it would be “great for Canada” if the US dropped the request.

What are the implications and why was he fired for such comments?

The comments naturally would nudge the valued diplomatic relationship between the US and Canada. Additionally, such comments highlight the highly politicised nature of the extradition request in which Justin Trudeau has repeatedly assured that Canada is consistently acting within lawful grounds.

However, the extradition took place amidst an on-going trade war between the US and China, which contrary to Justin Trudeau’s claims, is believed to be highly politicised in nature. Moreover, the firing of McCallum was rather surprising given that he was not merely just an ambassador but a veteran diplomat whom had served Canadians honourably with distinctions in many cabinet positions. Therefore, his resignation highlights the intensity of the situation and how Canada, in attempts to balance diplomatic relations, seems “stuck in the middle” of this whole controversy.

Furthermore, in a move believed to be retaliatory, China have detained a Canadian ex-diplomat and consultant, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on vague grounds for “endangering state security.” They have also been denied legal representation and family visits, and have access to only one consul visit per month.

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