Liberals’ economic adviser to become Canada’s new ambassador to China

Previous envoy John McCallum was fired because of public comments that broke with government line

Dominic Barton, chairman of an advisory committee to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, talks with reporters at the World Economic Forum Wednesday, January 24, 2018 in Davos, Switzerland. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The Liberals are naming business consultant Dominic Barton as Canada’s new ambassador to China.

Barton steps into the role with the two countries engaged in a diplomatic feud.

At the centre are Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition request by the United States, and China’s subsequent detentions of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

The ambassadorship has been vacant since January, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired former cabinet minister John McCallum following a number of public comments that broke with the government’s line.

Barton has been global managing director of consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and was head of the Trudeau government’s influential economic advisory council.

He has connections in Asia, having worked there for 12 years as well as serving on the board of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and being listed as an adjunct professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, according to online biographies.

In a statement, Trudeau says those years of experience make Barton “a great choice to represent Canada — and Canadian interests in China.”

Barton is quoted in the prime minister’s announcement as saying it is an honour to be appointed ambassador. He calls the relationship between the two countries important and vows to “work hard to represent our great country and to resolve the challenges that currently exist.”

The challenges started in earnest in late 2018 when Canadian authorities detained Meng as she transited through Vancouver’s airport. The United States wants her extradited to face allegations that she lied to U.S. banks as part of an effort to circumvent American sanctions on Iran.

Days later, China arrested Spavor and Kovrig and then accused them of undermining China’s national security. Canadian officials have met with them 11 times since their December arrests and calls their detentions arbitrary.

RELATED: Consular officials pay 10th visit to Canadian Michael Kovrig detained in China

Efforts have thus far failed to get either released, while China has upped the diplomatic pressure by banning imports of Canadian canola and impeding other agricultural products.

The Opposition Conservatives repeatedly called on the Liberals to fill the position in the months following McCallum’s ouster.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fatality after early morning crash on Highway 1 near Revelstoke

The incident was between a semi truck and passenger vehicle

Roots and Blues festival to kick off virtually on Friday

Watch the festival on Black Press Media website platforms, for free

City purchases new snowblower for $44,000 under budget

Revelstoke replacing 2009 loader attachment with a new one

Revelstoke prepares for first public hearing since pandemic

Controversial Hay Rd. development public hearing scheduled for Sept. 17

Video: SUV burns alongside the highway near Salmon Arm

Footage of the burning vehicle was posted to Youtube.

What’s COVID-19 doing to friendships?

Life and Faith column by Jim Taylor

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

Missing toddler wandered for three hours in Beaverdell area before being found

The two-year-old boy was found safe by his uncle on Beaver Creek Road on Aug. 12

Tourism Kelowna’s survey asks if residents are ready for tourists

Tourism Kelowna’s survey asks Central Okanagan residents if they’re comfortable reopening tourism

BC Burn Fund benefits from Vernon firefighters

More than $5,000 raised at 2019 R.F. Brett Memorial Golf Tournament

B.C. man who nearly died from COVID-19 reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Documentary on Kelowna brothers’ Central American surf resort business hits Amazon

Lucas and Travis Boychuk moved to Nicaragua in 2008, starting their surf resort business

Potential child predator spotted in Penticton property

The man was reportedly seen at the Columbus Park Property attempting to lure children with candy

Most Read