The scandal around former ambassador John McCallum’s remarks is that he was the officially designated spokesman of the Government of Canada to the Government of China. However, in two separate interviews with media in Canada he sounded more like Ms Meng’s defence counsel than he did the government of Canada.

Public figures are held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens in what they can say about court proceedings. Why? Because there must be no suggestion that politicians tried to influence judicial objectivity by saying publicly what they think the court’s decision should be. Even if the court’s objectivity remains unimpaired, the appearance of interference is enough to taint the outcome.

John McCallum’s position as the most senior spokesman for Ottawa to Beijing means that, in a society governed by the rule of law, as soon as he said these things the government was put in a position where it could either do nothing, and repudiate the law, or else repudiate McCallum, making explicit his comments did not represent the official view in Ottawa. Still, once said his comments cannot be unsaid and they will surely serve as fodder for Beijing as well as Ms Meng’s legal defence team.