Meng, McCallum and the worst foreign policy bungle in a generation

If you missed Canada’s weekend politics shows, get caught up here in four quick snapshots
John McCallum
Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, arrives to brief members of the Foreign Affairs committee regarding China in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Didn’t catch Canada’s weekend politics shows? Here’s some of what you missed, in this excerpt from today’s Politics Insider newsletter, which you can read here.

  • The McCallum mess: To address the fallout of McCallum’s firing, the feds offered up Marco Mendicino, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of infrastructure, to speak with Global News’s The West Block: “I know John McCallum and like most who’ve had the chance to work with him, I hold him in high regard … But over the last several days he made a number of comments which were unhelpful and obviously did not reflect the government’s position as it relates to Ms. Meng’s extradition.” Mendicino spent much of the interview trying to present the inevitable questions about McCallum that will come today when Parliament returns as “partisanship” and”descending into the fray.”  (Global News)
  • Mendicino read from the same script nearly word for word on CTV’s Question Period, including the assertion that opposition questions about McCallum reflect “partisanship.” Meanwhile, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel called the episode the worst “bungle of foreign policy” in a generation. “This is a disaster with some serious consequences—when I think about the lives of Canadians that are being detained in China right now, this has very serious implications for them, it has serious implications for our relationship with the United States. … How did they let this happen?” (CTV News
  • Why can’t we be friends? Speaking on CBC radio’s The House, Japan’s ambassador to Canada Kimihiro Ishikane said it is time for Canada and Japan to start paying more attention to each other as trading partners: “With all the challenges Canada is now facing with its big neighbour, now Canada is really wishing to diversify its trade options. … The window is opening. We haven’t found the window of opportunities on each end previously. We haven’t been very much aware of the potential of Canada, and vice versa.” The Japanese ambassador weighed in, however delicately, on the tensions between Canada and China: “We do share the concerns Canadians have regarding this issue. … Generally speaking, the way we handle this kind of thing is, you know, share the concern and talk to friends in discreet manners.” (CBC New)
  • The NDP’s Svend-Singh divide: Svend Robinson may have come to the defence of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh (see above), but the aren’t anywhere close to seeing eye-to-eye on the massive LNG project taking shape on B.C.’s northern coast. Singh supports it. Svend doesn’t: “I oppose any new oil and gas infrastructure, including that particular one,” Robinson said on CTV’s Question Period. “We’re probably going to have to leave a lot of the oil and gas in the ground if we’re going to meet these targets. We owe that to our children.” But, host Evan Solomon interjected, “What does it say about a political party when a star candidate like you openly differs from your own leader on a fundamental issue?” “It says we’re a democratic party,” Robinson replied. “We’re not a monolithic party like the Liberals and the Conservatives.” (CTV News)