Canada did not make concessions to China to secure the return of a Canadian citizen who spent two years in jail and was convicted of spying, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion told reporters on Friday.
"It's not the style of the prime minister," Dion said when asked whether Canada made a deal to bring home Kevin Garratt. "Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau doesn't do these kinds of things. We do what is right for Canada, always."
Garratt was charged in January with spying and stealing state secrets. He was convicted on Tuesday, released on bail and then deported to Canada. He arrived safely home in Vancouver with his family on Thursday.
Garratt and his wife, Julia, had lived in China since 1984 and ran a popular coffee shop in the city of Dandong, near China's sensitive border with North Korea. They carried out Christian aid work in the area.
The couple were detained in August 2014 and accused of stealing Chinese military secrets. Julia Garratt was released on bail in February 2015 and returned to Canada, but her husband remained in detention until this week.
The Garratt family denied accusations the couple had been involved in espionage, and the Canadian government has said there was no evidence to back the Chinese claims.
"I will try to express my emotion — how much I'm pleased by the fact the Garratt family is together. They have shown so much dignity and courage," Dion said Friday, adding that Garratt's release marks a positive step toward building stronger ties between China and Canada.
"We want always to improve the relationship with the government of China, with the people of China. We want to have something that will be constant, consistent and in the interest of Canadians. And the fact that Mr. Garratt is home is good news."
Montreal man remains behind bars
Meanwhile, a Montreal woman whose father has been in solitary confinement in China for more than a decade is calling on Trudeau to personally intervene to free him.
Ti-Anna Wang, 27, of Montreal is asking Trudeau to raise the case of her aging father, Wang Bingzhang, when he welcomes Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Canada next week on an official visit.
Wang says she's happy a fellow Canadian was released Thursday after spending two years in a Chinese jail. But she said only Trudeau can save her father, a pro-democracy activist who got his doctorate at McGill University in the 1980s.
Wang was abducted by Chinese agents during a trip to Vietnam in 2002 and imprisoned after what was widely denounced as a sham trial.