John McCallum, former Canadian ambassador to China, says he warned Chinese officials who "punishing" Canada could help the Conservatives politically.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post published Wednesday morning, McCallum described telling China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs that if it kept imposing on Canadian trade exports amid the ongoing diplomatic feud, China could get more than bargained for.
READ MORE: McCallum out as Canadian ambassador to China after comments on Meng extradition
"Anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives, [who] are less friendly to China than the Liberals," McCallum quoted as saying.
“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]. "
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McCallum, a former Liberal cabinet minister and veteran with the party, was named ambassador by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2017.
But he was fired earlier this year after weighing in on the merits of the extradition case against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
Her arrest in China in the cross-border trade between China and the US, with China detaining two Canadians – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor – in the days immediately following her arrest
READ MORE: McCallum says it would be great for Canada if Meng not extradited – report
American law enforcement officials had requested Meng's detention and are currently seeking her extradition.
In January 2019, the U.S. charged Meng and Huawei with 23 counts of skirting sanctions on Iran and corporate espionage.
China has demanded the federal government intervene in her case and release her.
Trudeau has refused, citing the extradition treaty governing the process between Canada and the U.S.
WATCH: Canadian ambassador to China tells Chinese-language media that Huawei CFO has strong case
Under the process, extradition requests play out in the courts but require final approval by the minister of citizenship and immigration only once the court has approved the extradition and before it officially goes ahead.
Extradition cases can take years to get to that point.
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McCallum had said in January 2019 during a closed-door meeting with Chinese journalists in Toronto that he thought Meng had a good chance of fighting her extradition. News of that speculation quickly prompted accusations from diplomats and political opponents that he had overstepped his role.
McCallum maintained in the South China Morning Post interview that he "misspoke" during that incident but also said he believes "it is quite possible the judge will release her."
The Prime Minister's Office referred for comment from Global News to Global Affairs Canada.
This story will be updated with any response from the department.
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