July 11, 2019 11:02 am
Updated: July 11, 2019 1:22 pm

Freeland says McCallum ‘does not speak’ for feds after explosive China interview

WATCH ABOVE: Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada’s fired former ambassador to China was not speaking on behalf of the government in controversial remarks that critics say invited Chinese interference in the federal election.

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada’s fired former ambassador to China “does not speak” for the government after he described offering advice to Chinese officials on how their attacks on Canada could influence the fall election to a newspaper.

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In an interview with Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post published Wednesday, veteran Liberal John McCallum said he told China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that continuing to restrict Canadian exports to China would be politically beneficial to the Conservatives, who would take a much harder line on China than the governing Liberals.

READ MORE: McCallum reportedly warned China that hurting Canada ‘will help the Conservatives’

“Anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives, [who] are much less friendly to China than the Liberals,” McCallum was quoted as saying in the interview with the English-language newspaper.

“I hope and I don’t see any reason why things will get worse; it would be nice if things will get better between now and [Canada’s federal] election [in October].”

His explosive remarks quickly prompted accusations by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer that McCallum was offering an “invitation of foreign interference in the Canadian election.”

WATCH: Scheer says senior Liberal politician was ‘basically asking’ Chinese government to rig election

Freeland was asked from a conference on media freedom in London, U.K., about the remarks by McCallum, who was fired as ambassador to China in January 2019 after weighing in on the merits of the extradition case against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

“Let me be extremely clear that Mr. McCallum does not speak in the name of the government of Canada,” she responded, before addressing accusations that the remarks were an invitation for political interference.

“It is a very important issue and it is something that we, as a country, have to be prepared to defend ourselves against,” she continued.

“In that context, I think that it is inappropriate for any Canadian to be advising any foreign government on ways it ought or ought not to behave to secure any particular election outcome in Canada.”

More to come.

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