McCallum says dropping Meng extradition would be 'great' for Canada: report
VANCOUVER -- A media report is quoting Canada's ambassador to China as saying it would be "great for Canada" if the United States drops an extradition request against a Huawei executive, the day after he apologized for a politically explosive slip of the tongue when discussing the case.
StarMetro Vancouver says John McCallum made the comment Friday to one of its reporters during a charity luncheon in Vancouver.
"From Canada's point of view, if (the U.S.) drops the extradition request, that would be great for Canada," McCallum told the Star.
The comment follows a statement McCallum issued Thursday, saying he misspoke earlier in the week when he told a group of Chinese-language journalists in Toronto about Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, listing several arguments he thought could help her with her case.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fire McCallum, saying the remarks raised concerns about the politicization of the Meng case but Trudeau came to McCallum's defence.
Trudeau said his government's focus is on getting detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor home safely from China and ensuring their rights are respected and recalling McCallum wouldn't achieve that.
McCallum reportedly said Friday that if the U.S. and China were to reach an agreement, it should also lead to the release of the two Canadians.
"We have to make sure that if the U.S. does such a deal, it also includes the release of our two people. And the U.S. is highly aware of that," he told the Star.
Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
McCallum's mea-culpa on Thursday about his comments to Chinese-language journalists was the latest development in the saga of Canada's fallout with China over Meng's arrest.
"I regret that my comments with respect to the legal proceedings of Ms. Meng have created confusion. I misspoke," McCallum, a former Liberal cabinet minister, said in the statement.
"These comments do not accurately represent my position on this issue. As the government has consistently made clear, there has been no political involvement in this process."
McCallum also backtracked on the comments he made listing the arguments he thought could help Meng with her case.
"As Canada's ambassador to China, I play no role in assessing any arguments or making any determinations in the extradition process," McCallum said Thursday.
"The Canadian government's priority -- and my priority -- is securing the release of the two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China and ensuring that the rights of all of our citizens are protected."
Meng was arrested Dec. 1 at Vancouver's airport on an extradition request from the U.S. She was freed on bail by a B.C. Supreme Court judge and is due back in court on Feb. 6.
U.S. authorities alleged she used a Huawei subsidiary to evade sanctions against Iran. She has denied the allegations through her lawyer in court, promising to fight them if she is extradited.