Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Jennifer May as Canada’s new ambassador to China, filling a nearly year-long vacancy in the key diplomatic post, CTV News sources told CTV News.
The government is likely to announce May’s appointment as early as Friday.
Taking on this new role, she will become Canada’s leader in handling poor relations with China.
May, who was Canada’s ambassador to Brazil until August, joined Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs more than 30 years ago. During his career, May has held several positions, including Executive Director of Defense and Security Relations, Director of Eastern Europe and Eurasia Relations, and has served in Bonn, Hong Kong, Beijing, Vienna, Bangkok and Berlin.
Canada has been without an ambassador to China since late 2021, when Dominic Barton walked out of Beijing offices.
Asked by CTV News a few months ago when Canada hit the six-month mark without an ambassador, Secretary of State Melanie Jolie’s office promised to nominate a representative “in an appropriate time”, saying That the officials continued to engage with China. at the “highest level”.
At the time, Guy Saint-Jacques, a former ambassador to China, said the notable absence was a sign that the federal government “did not understand” the value of a strong diplomatic presence on the ground.
“Having an ambassador gives you intelligence… because here’s a person who can reach a high level of [information] Others in the embassy cannot,” he said. “You’re depriving yourself of all that useful information.”
Barton publicly announced his resignation on December 6, 2021, just months after helping to secure the release of former diplomat and entrepreneur Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
Two men were arbitrarily detained and held in a Chinese prison for more than 1,000 days. His arrest is widely seen as retaliation for the Vancouver arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou over a US extradition request.
Those events launched what would become a nearly three-year icy relationship between Canada and China.
May’s appointment coincides with the one-year anniversary of Michael’s release just ahead of Canada.
It was the night of September 24, 2021 when Trudeau made a national address, announcing that Kovrig and Spavor had boarded a plane to China with Barton, and “they are on their way home.”
With files from CTV National News Ottawa Bureau Chief Joyce Napier, CTV National News Producer Mackenzie Gray and CTVNews.co Producer Sarah Turnbull