January 26, 2019 3:54 pm
Updated: January 26, 2019 7:41 pm

McCallum out as Canadian ambassador to China after comments on Meng extradition

WATCH: John McCallum is no longer Canada's ambassador to China after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked him to step down following comments he made over the extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. David Akin reports.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Canada’s ambassador to China John McCallum to step down following comments he made regarding the case of detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

READ MORE: McCallum says he ‘misspoke’ when he said Huawei executive has case to avoid extradition

“Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s ambassador to China,” Trudeau said in a statement on Saturday.

“For almost two decades, John McCallum has served Canadians honourably and with distinction.”

WATCH: McCallum admits he “misspoke” on Meng Wanzhou extradition case


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Trudeau added that Jim Nickel, the deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent Canada in Chinese affairs. The statement did not specify whether this is a permanent arrangement.

Trudeau’s statement also did not indicate why McCallum was asked to step aside. The resignation, however, comes after McCallum was quoted in StarMetro Vancouver on Friday saying it would be “great for Canada” if the United States drops an extradition request against Meng.

READ MORE: McCallum says it would be ‘great for Canada’ if Meng not extradited: report

Meng, the chief financial officer of China’s smartphone giant Huawei, was arrested on Dec. 1 in Vancouver on behalf of the U.S., where she is facing fraud allegations.

Two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig, have since been detained in China in what observers have suggested was a retaliatory move.

WATCH: ‘We are a country of rule and law’ Trudeau on Meng extradition

Earlier this week, McCallum came under fire for comments about the extradition case that he made with a group of Chinese-language journalists outside Toronto.

“I think she has quite good arguments on her side,” McCallum said of Meng at the Markham, Ont., meeting. “One, political involvement by comments from Donald Trump in her case.

READ MORE: Trudeau rejects calls to fire McCallum for ‘unprecedented’ remarks on Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou

“Two, there’s an extraterritorial aspect to her case. And three, there’s the issue of Iran sanctions in her case and Canada does not sign on to these. So I think she has some strong arguments she can make before a judge.”

On Thursday, McCallum said he “misspoke” and regretted making those comments.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer had called on Trudeau to fire McCallum, saying the remarks raised concerns about the politicization of the Meng case. Trudeau initially came to McCallum’s defence before asking for his resignation Friday.

In a tweet Saturday afternoon, Scheer said, “It should have never come to this.”

“Justin Trudeau should have fired his ambassador the moment he interfered in this case. Instead, he did nothing and allowed more damage to be done,” he said.

WATCH: Canadian ambassador to China tells Chinese-language media that Huawei CFO has strong case

With files from the Canadian Press and Kerri Breen

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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