Freeland says McCallum "does not speak" for Canadian government in rebuke of former envoys China comments

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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 be offering advice on foreign government on how to affect election results in Canada.

PETER NICHOLLS / Reuters

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is distancing Trudeau government from former China envoy John McCallum after he warned Beijing against punishing

She also rebuked such conduct, saying she should be offering advice on any foreign government.

"Mr. McCallum does not speak for the Government of Canada,".

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"It is inappropriate to any advised foreign government on ways to secure any particular election outcome in Canada."

She noted the long-time Liberal insider had left her ambassadorial post in January. His departure was after he waded into legal case surrounding Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou who was arrested by 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 .

The former ambassadors revealed discussions during an interview on Canada-China with the South China Morning Post this week. The Hong Kong newspaper said Mr. McCallum had been speaking to "China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs" in Beijing.

Mr. McCallum told the South China Morning Post that he warned Beijing that further punitive measures against Canada could help the 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 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 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.

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Wednesday said Mr. McCallum's comments invite foreign interference in Canadian elections.

"This is a senior Liberal conveying message to China that should help the Liberals get elected because it would be China's best interest," Mr. Scheer said.

Ms. Freeland on Thursday, however, said her government's priority is well-being of two Canadians who were arrested by Beijing in apparent retention 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 a restriction on Canadian canola, pork and beef.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, "When it comes to China, our very personal priority, is the well-being of Michael Kavrig," Ms. Freeland said Thursday. 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.

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Mr. McCallum lost his job as an ambassador earlier this year after he told media that he believed. He had also publicly speculated that U.S. President Donald Trump might interview and cut a deal that would result in her freedom.

In late June, citing the discovery of 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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