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

Six months to Francophone Games, 600 volunteers needed

Online applications open on Jan. 14

Tech consortium invests $25 million into four University of Victoria research projects

Investments come with goal of developing, implement technologies created by Canadians

Organizers seek input for long-awaited Oaklands community garden

Oswald Park Community Garden Design Workshop coming up on Jan. 19

Improperly transporting a pet in the back of the truck can cost up to $368

Police recommend keeping all animals inside the passenger portion of the vehicle

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

PHOTOS: Braves beat Storm in shootout at the Brindy

Saanich won 4-3 Saturday night in Campbell River

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read