（中央社記者胡玉立多倫多26日專電）加拿大總理杜魯道（Justin Trudeau）今天發表聲明說，「我昨晚要求並接受了麥家廉（John McCallum）辭去加拿大駐中國大使職務。」
John McCallum has been fired as Canada’s ambassador to China.
“Last night I asked for and accepted John McCallum’s resignation as Canada’s Ambassador to China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Saturday.
A spokesperson for the prime minister confirmed Trudeau delivered the news to McCallum himself.
The statement didn’t offer a reason for the removal, which comes in the middle of a diplomatic crisis with China. It caps off an especially tough week for McCallum after he controversially waded into the extradition request against Meng Wanzhou, an executive with Chinese telecom company Huawei.
On Tuesday McCallum, a longtime Liberal, was quoted telling a gathering of Chinese-language journalists in Toronto that he thought she had a strong case to fight extradition to the U.S. and listed several arguments he thought could help her with her case.
On Thursday, he said he misspoke with those statements.
Then, just the next day, he reportedly told StarMetro Vancouver it would be “great for Canada” if the United States dropped their extradition request against the Huawei executive.
Former ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said he believes it was the latest round of comments that prompted his firing.
“Unfortunately I think the prime minister had no choice but to ask for the resignation of Mr. McCallum,” he said.
“He should have shown a bit more restraint, in my view.”
The firing appears to put the government’s China policy in disarray just days before the U.S. makes a final decision on extraditing Meng and comes at a time that Canada faces difficulties in its relationships with Russia, India, Saudi Arabia and China. These days its historical ally in the White House is often at odds with Canadian foreign policy.
The decision came too late for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer who had called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fire McCallum earlier in the week, following his first set of comments.
At the time Trudeau brushed off the call, saying his government’s focus is on getting detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor released from China and recalling McCallum wouldn’t achieve that.
“This decision should have been made days ago. Instead [Trudeau has] shown weakness on this file and damaged Canada’s reputation and our ability to handle this very important issue where Canadians’ treatment in China is being affected by this,” Scheer told reporters Saturday.
The NDP’s foreign affairs critic, Hélène Laverdière, said McCallum’s inappropriate statements could complicate the file.
“This chaos has not helped Canadians abroad and has caused confusion everywhere,” she said in a statement.
“In addition, we remain concerned about President Trump’s statements that he would use this extradition as a bargaining chip in his trade negotiations. We believe that the legal process must follow its course without interference from anyone.”
For now, Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent Canada in China as chargé d’affaires.
Saint-Jacques said the search for a new ambassador in Beijing could take months, straining an already fractured relationship.
“It really complicates things. In my view, this crisis is the worst we have seen with China since we established diplomatic relations back in 1970,” he said.
“There is a risk of more turbulence in the months ahead.”
In his statement, Trudeau thanked McCallum for his years of service, including his time as immigration and refugees minister.
“For almost two decades, John McCallum has served Canadians honourably and with distinction,” he wrote.
“His work as minister of Immigration, refugees and citizenship in bringing in over 39,500 Syrian refugees remains an inspiration to Canadians and an example to the world. I thank him and his family for his service over the past many years.”
When McCallum took over the Beijing posting following a 2017 cabinet shuffle, he eagerly pointed out his strong personal connection to China. His wife is of Chinese ethnicity and he had a large Chinese constituency in his former federal riding in Markham, Ont.
The Liberal party’s Quebec MPs were meeting today in Quebec City, but offered no more details.
“I wanted to just thank John McCallum for all his work for Canada. [I] had the chance to sit with him for many years in Ottawa,” said Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.