Justin Trudeau Denies PMO Pressured Former Diplomat Over China Statements

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today his office did not pressure a former Canadian ambassador to avoid recommending that Canadians cease non-essential travel to China.

“I can confirm that the PMO did not direct that to happen,” Trudeau said during a media availability at the Kitsilano Coast Guard base in Vancouver Monday afternoon.

Rob Oliphant, parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Thursday that neither she nor the PMO had pressured the former diplomats over their comments on Canada’s China policy.

The House of Commons committee on foreign affairs meets Tuesday to vote on whether to study allegations that federal officials have pressured two former diplomats. The Liberals hold five of the committee’s nine seats.

Diplomatic and trade relations with China have deteriorated rapidly since Canada began extradition proceedings against Meng Wanzhou, a top executive with the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei.

Wanzhou faces charges in the United States of fraud and violating international sanctions against Iran.

In the wake of her detention and house arrest at her multi-million dollar Vancouver home, tensions between Canada and China escalated. Beijing detained two Canadians — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — on suspicion of espionage late last year; they’ve been in custody every since. And in subsequent months, China placed restrictions on imports of Canadian canola, pork and beef.

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