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

Rimbey RCMP respond to 42 calls for service

Files include: 2 impaired driving investigations, 3 thefts of vehicles and 2 assault complaints

Eckville Arena Solar Project nearing completion

The 447 solar modules will cut on operating costs for the arena, says construction manager

COVID-19 recovered cases continue to rise in Alberta

69 more recoveries Tuesday, bringing the total to 6,048

Bentley Farmers Market to open June 6; Lacombe Wednesday Market waiting for Music in the Park

Precautions and protocols lead to board approval of Bentley Market

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The Rimbey Review covers the stories that matter to you and to our community

CBC reveals fall/winter lineup including ‘Battle of the Blades,’ ‘Lady Dicks’

CBC reveals fall/winter lineup including ‘Battle of the Blades,’ ‘Lady Dicks’

Experts say US coronavirus death count is flawed, but close

Experts say US coronavirus death count is flawed, but close

After COVID-19 lockdown, fitness fans reconsider returning to the gym

After COVID-19 lockdown, fitness fans reconsider returning to the gym

Canadian international Alphonso Davies running straight at stardom

Canadian international Alphonso Davies running straight at stardom

Canucks GM says team could hold camp in U.S. due to Canada’s quarantine rules

Canucks GM says team could hold camp in U.S. due to Canada’s quarantine rules

Calgary Flames have a lot of time to think about the Winnipeg Jets

Calgary Flames have a lot of time to think about the Winnipeg Jets

Kenney, Horgan differ on NHL hub takes as league looks for host cities

Kenney, Horgan differ on NHL hub takes as league looks for host cities

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

Most Read