World

Canada has chosen a new ambassador to China

Sources told CTV News, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has nominated Jennifer May to be Canada’s new ambassador to China, filling a nearly year-long vacancy in a key diplomatic post.

The government could announce Mrs May’s appointment as early as Friday.

In taking on this new role, she will become Canada’s leader in handling the strained relationship with China.

May, who until August was Canada’s ambassador to Brazil, joined Canada’s foreign ministry more than 30 years ago. During her career, Mrs. May has held many positions, including executive director of defense and security relations, director of East Europe and Eurasian relations, and has previously served in Bonn, Hong Kong, Beijing, Vienna, Bangkok and Berlin.

Canada has not had an ambassador to China since late 2021, when Dominic Barton moved out of the Beijing offices.

When asked by CTV News what it was a few months back when Canada hit the six-month mark without an ambassador, Secretary of State Melanie Joly’s office pledged representation in “appropriate time,” saying that officials continue to engage with China. at the “top level”.

At the time, former ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said the notable absence was a sign that the federal government “didn’t understand” the value of a strong diplomatic presence in practice.

“Having an ambassador gives you intelligence… because this is someone who can have high level access [information] he said. “You’re depriving yourself of all that useful information.”

Barton publicly announced his resignation on December 6, 2021, just months after helping secure the release of former diplomats and businessmen Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

These two men were arbitrarily detained and held in a Chinese prison for more than 1,000 days. Their arrest is seen as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver following a US extradition request.

Those events kicked off what would become a nearly three-year frosty relationship between Canada and China.

Mrs May’s appointment took place just before Canada, marking the one-year anniversary of Michael’s release.

Late on September 24, 2021, Trudeau delivered a nationwide address, announcing that Kovrig and Spavor had boarded a plane with Barton in China and that “they were on their way home.”


Featuring files from CTV National News, Ottawa Chief Joyce Napier, CTV National News Producer Mackenzie Gray and CTVNews.ca Producer Sarah Turnbull

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