Thursday, July 11, 2019

Freeland says McCallum ‘does not speak’ for Canadian government

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland attends the Global Conference for Media Freedom, in London. Freeland is distancing the Liberal government from former China envoy John McCallum, saying Canadians should not be offering advice to any foreign government on how to affect election results in Canada.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is distancing the Trudeau government from former China envoy John McCallum after he warned Beijing against punishing Canada further over the arrest of a Huawei executive because it could end up electing a Conservative government.
She also rebuked such conduct, saying Canadians should not be offering advice to any foreign government on how to affect election results in Canada.
"Mr. McCallum does not speak for the Government of Canada,” Ms. Freeland told journalists at a media freedom conference in the United Kingdom.
"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."
She noted the long-time Liberal insider had left his ambassadorial post in January. His departure came after he waded into the legal case surrounding Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou who was arrested by Canadian authorities last December at the Vancouver International Airport on an extradition request from the United States. She is currently fighting a handover to the Americans.
Earlier this week, Mr. McCallum made headlines in Hong Kong after revealing he has cautioned Chinese officials that further sanctions against Canada over the arrest of Ms. Meng could help to spur the election of a Conservative government, which would be far less favourable to Beijing.
The former ambassador revealed his discussions during an interview on Canada-China tensions with the South China Morning Post this week. The Hong Kong newspaper said Mr. McCallum had been speaking to "former contacts at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs” in Beijing.

Image result for drunken former China envoy John McCallum

Mr. McCallum told the South China Morning Post that he warned Beijing that further punitive measures against Canada could help oust Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from power. A Canadian federal election is slated for October.
"Anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives, [who] are much less friendly to China than the Liberals," Mr. McCallum told the South China Morning Post. "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]."
Mr. McCallum is a veteran Liberal Party insider who served as a cabinet minister in three Liberal governments, including Mr. Trudeau’s.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Wednesday said Mr. McCallum's comments invite foreign interference in Canadian elections.
"This is a senior Liberal conveying the message to China that they should help the Liberals get elected because it would be in China's best interest," Mr. Scheer said.

Image result for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland

Chrystia Freeland on Thursday, however, said her government’s priority is instead the well-being of two Canadians who were arrested by Beijing in apparent retaliation for the Meng detention.
Only days after the Huawei executive was taken into custody, China arrested two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – on alleged national-security violations. In the months that followed, Beijing has also imposed what amount to economic sanctions on Canada, restricting imports of Canadian canola, pork and beef.
"When it comes to China, our priority, very much my personal priority, is the well-being of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor,” Ms. Freeland said Thursday. “These are two brave Canadians held in difficult circumstances who have been arbitrarily detained and we are extremely focused on working for them.”
Ms. Freeland said she discussed the Kovrig and Spavor case while in London with Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary, and Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok.
Mr. McCallum lost his job as ambassador earlier this year after he told media that he believed Ms. Meng had strong legal arguments in her favour to avoid being extradited to the United States. He had also publicly speculated that U.S. President Donald Trump might intervene and cut a deal that would result in her freedom.
In late June, China also announced it was temporarily suspending all meat exports from Canada, citing the discovery of a banned substance in frozen pork from this country. The drug at issue is approved for use in Canada and the United States, but not in Europe, Russia or China.

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