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

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

UPDATE: Missing Chilliwack teen found, safe and sound

RCMP ‘pleased to confirm’ teen has been located

Health officials are restricting visitor access to facilities in Chilliwack and Hope

Access rules for CGH and RCH, long-term care homes, and assisted living facilities have changed

COVID-19 case diagnosed at Abbotsford rehabilitation residence

First Abbotsford care home to have confirmed COVID-19 case

Fraser Valley’s tulips fields off limits to visitors due to COVID-19

Abbotsford and Chilliwack tulip farmers have announced their festival season won’t go ahead

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Vancouver man, 21, charged after mother found dead in Squamish home

Ryan Grantham, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Surrey MLA Jinny Sims cleared of criminal wrongdoing

She resigned her cabinet post during RCMP investigation

Most Read