Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reshuffled his cabinet on Monday ahead of upcoming elections, naming a new attorney general who could decide the fate of a Chinese executive arrested in a case that has roiled Ottawa’s relations with Beijing.
Yale-educated former law professor David Lametti was one of two new ministers named in the shake-up, likely the last significant change to Trudeau’s team before Canadians head to the polls in October.
His displacement of Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s first indigenous attorney general, comes with Canada and China at loggerheads over the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last month.
Meng was later released on bail pending the outcome of an extradition hearing. The United States - which is locked in a trade war with Beijing - has accused her of violating sanctions on Iran.
China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and China-based business consultant Michael Spavor on December 10, in a move widely seen as retaliation for Meng’s arrest.
Lametti is now expected to oversee Meng’s case as head of the justice department and will likely spark further anger from China if she is sent to stand trial in the US.
Trudeau’s Liberal Party has fallen in recent polls to just a slim lead over the opposition Tories, raising the possibility for the first time of Trudeau losing his majority in parliament in the next ballot.