Canada’s new ambassador to China meets detainees Kovrig and Spavor

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been imprisoned for nearly a year

Dominic Barton responds to a question during an interview with The Canadian Press Thursday, May 19, 2016 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canada’s new ambassador to China has met with two Canadian men the People’s Republic imprisoned nearly one year ago.

Dominic Barton led his first consular visits with Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on Friday and Monday, respectively, said a senior government official.

Barton was appointed in September, one week before the federal election call, to fill a big diplomatic gap and help repair fractured relations with China after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1 on an extradition request by the United States.

Days later, China imprisoned Kovrig, an ex-Canadian diplomat, and Spavor, an entrepreneur, and accused them of undermining its national security.

It has held them without access to lawyers or their family, or formally charging them in what is widely seen as retaliation for arrest of Meng.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet ministers have routinely branded Kovrig and Spavor’s incarcerations as arbitrary.

In January, Trudeau fired his previous China ambassador, former cabinet minister John McCallum, following a number of public comments that broke with the government’s line.

Barton, who was a well-connected business consultant, was tapped for the diplomatic post because of his high-level business experience in China and throughout Asia, which included serving as the global managing director of consulting giant McKinsey & Co.

Barton also led the Trudeau government’s influential economic advisory council.

RELATED: Protesters decry China-sponsored reception for B.C. municipal politicians

The government has also tried to leverage broad international support from several dozen countries, including the United States, to win the freedom of Kovrig and Spavor.

That effort has angered China, which has banned imports of Canadian canola and other agricultural products.

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

Water quality advisory issued for Buffalo Lake at Rochan Sands

Elevated levels of fecal bacteria were detected via testing of Buffalo Lake water, at this beach location

COVID-19: One more death reported in central zone

Number of active cases has decreased by more than 200 since last week

PHOTOS: Stettler County takes part in protest at Alberta Legislature

The Province is proposing to change how oil and gas wells, pipelines and associated machinery and equipment are assessed for property tax purposes

Finding a rich personal connection with a nearby community

A bit of exploring by the tiny community of Fenn took me to my grandparents’ early married years

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

Piscotty hits A’s 2nd walkoff slam this year, beats Rangers

Piscotty hits A’s 2nd walkoff slam this year, beats Rangers

McDavid gets first playoff hat trick, Oilers beat Chicago 6-3 in NHL qualifiers

McDavid gets first playoff hat trick, Oilers beat Chicago 6-3 in NHL qualifiers

Triumphant return for retooled Marlins, who beat Orioles 4-0

Triumphant return for retooled Marlins, who beat Orioles 4-0

Aho, Reimer help Hurricanes beat Rangers 4-1 for sweep

Aho, Reimer help Hurricanes beat Rangers 4-1 for sweep

Emerging young stars stand out at MLS tournament

Emerging young stars stand out at MLS tournament

Leafs solve Korpisalo, but lose Muzzin as Toronto evens series with Columbus 1-1

Leafs solve Korpisalo, but lose Muzzin as Toronto evens series with Columbus 1-1

Calgary Flames take 2-1 series lead with 6-2 win over Winnipeg Jets

Calgary Flames take 2-1 series lead with 6-2 win over Winnipeg Jets

Riley’s 3-run homer helps Fried, Braves beat Blue Jays 10-1

Riley’s 3-run homer helps Fried, Braves beat Blue Jays 10-1

Most Read