Canada ambassador walks back comments on Huawai executive

Sunday, 27 Jan, 2019

Canada's Immigration Minister John McCallum speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 31, 2016.

But then Mr. McCallum, Canada's ambassador to China, waded in by suggesting that Ms. Meng, who is sought for extradition by US authorities, has some good arguments to fight her extradition in the courts.

Erin O'Toole, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, said he believes McCallum's comments were approved by the Trudeau cabinet given they were his first public statements after briefing the Trudeau cabinet about the fallout from the Meng case at a cabinet retreat in Quebec last week. "One, political involvement by comments from Donald Trump in her case", McCallum said at the Markham, Ont., meeting.

Comments by President Trump may bolster a top Chinese executive's case fighting extradition from Canada to the US for suspected illegal trading with Iran, Canada's ambassador to China said Wednesday.

Meng is next due in court on February 6 in Vancouver. She is free on bail and staying in Vancouver.

Meng's arrest has opened up a major rift in Canada-Chinese relations.

Since Meng's arrest, China has detained two Canadians - diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - for national security investigations, prompting widespread calls for their release.

Speaking to reporters after an announcement in New Brunswick today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the call for McCallum's dismissal, saying it would be counterproductive.

A party-backed nationalistic tabloid in China has warned that the extradition battle over tech giant Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, is likely to be drawn out and complex. Meng's provisional arrest "occurred based on evidence presented by the U.S. Attorney General through his Office of International Affairs, which predates anything that the president has said [on December 11] or may say later", the official noted.

On Tuesday, he had said she had "strong arguments" to avoid extradition, in part because US President Donald Trump had discussed the case.

"I think she has quite good arguments on her side", McCallum said, in remarks posted to YouTube.

The U.S. has until January 30 to present a formal request for extradition.

"McCallum may be right on the extradition case, and the arguments to be used for the defense", Bothwell said.

McCallum's comments to Chinese-language media raise the prospect of Meng's lawyers arguing that the USA government has politicized the case to a new level. "The Canadian government and the justice system are advised not to accept such unreasonable demands by the United States on Canada, which ignores and violates global law". "As the government has consistently made clear, there has been no political involvement in this process", McCallum said in a follow-up statement on Thursday.

Trump has said he would consider intervening in Meng's case if it meant reaching a better trade deal with China.

He did not, however, offer to resign his position as ambassador and for the second day, Trudeau stood by his envoy when asked if McCallum would be sanctioned or fired.

Federal Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who along with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is responsible for overseeing the 5G security review, has said the analysis is not just about Huawei and is created to assess how best to protect Canadians.