The Current

After McCallum's firing, expert looks at what's next in Canada-China spat

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired John McCallum, Canada's ambassador to China, over the weekend — following McCallum's comments on the extradition case of Meng Wanzhou. An observer warns that while the prime minister may not have had a choice, McCallum's departure won't help solve the dispute between the two countries.

Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques weighs in

Guy Saint-Jacques served as Canada's ambassador to China between 2012 and 2016. (CBC)

Read Story Transcript

The arrest of Chinese business executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver late last year has set off a diplomatic row between Canada and China.

Following the arrest of Meng, who is wanted for extradition to the United States to face fraud related to the violation of Iran sanctions, China detained two Canadians — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor. Another Canadian, Robert Schellenberg, has been sentenced to death after he had already been given a prison term for drug smuggling.

With relations between the two countries already on the rocks, one observer says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had no choice but to fire John McCallum, Canada's ambassador to China.

Trudeau asked McCallum to resign Friday after the former ambassador said publicly he thought Meng had a strong case to fight extradition to the U.S. McCallum was criticized for interfering in the issue and apologized, only to say the next day that he thought it would be "great for Canada" if the U.S. dropped the extradition request against her.

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To discuss the impact McCallum's firing could have on Canada-China relations, host Anna Maria Tremonti of CBC Radio's The Current's spoke to:

  • Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China, who is now a senior fellow with the China Institute at the University of Alberta and a senior fellow at the Montreal Institute of International Studies.

Click listen near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Idella Sturino.