The Conservatives are urging the Liberal government to make a decision soon on whether Chinese tech giant Huawei will be allowed to join Canada’s next-generation 5G wireless network.
The government has been reviewing the security implications of emerging 5G cellular network technology, which promises to be 10 to 20 times faster than existing wireless connections, for more than a year.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has been pushing its international allies to reject Huawei’s participation in building the new 5G wireless network over fears it would deliver data to Chinese intelligence services — an accusation the company denies.
On Monday, Conservative critics Pierre Paul-Hus and Glen Motz sent a letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair seeking a status update on the 5G review. His predecessor, Ralph Goodale, had said a decision would be made after the Oct. 21 election.
“Canadians in all regions of the country along with the private sector and the security industry have been waiting on your government to take a position on Huawei and its possible participation in the construction of the Canadian 5G network,” the letter says. “We are writing to you on their behalf to hopefully get answers.
“Canadians expect answers on why this decision has been, and continues to be, delayed,”
The issue was raised during question period Monday.
“While it’s entirely inappropriate to speak of a particular company, a very thorough examination of the associated security and economic considerations in the 5G decision is well underway,” said Blair in the House of Commons.
Canada’s relationship with Huawei is further complicated by the broader political dispute with China. For nearly a year, Beijing has held two Canadian civilians in prison without charges.
Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were first detained after the RCMP arrested Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on an American extradition warrant.
Issue amongst the Five Eyes
The Trump administration’s stance was reiterated last month when Robert O’Brien, the recently appointed White House national security adviser, made an appearance at the Halifax International Security Forum.
Asked if Canada’s intelligence-sharing relationship with allies would be put at risk by allowing Huawei to expand its presence in the country, O’Brien said intelligence sharing “would be impacted if our close allies let the Trojan horse into the city.
“The Huawei Trojan horse is frightening. It’s terrifying,” he said.
“The technology allows China to put together profiles of the most intimate details, intimate personal details, of every single man, woman and child in China. When they get Huawei into Canada or other Western countries, they’re going to know every health record, every banking record, every social media post; they’re going to know everything about every single Canadian.”
In their letter, Paul-Hus and Motz note Australia, another member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that along with Canada also includes the U.S., New Zealand and the United Kingdom, has blocked Huawei from providing equipment in their 5G network.
“As a G7 country, Canada’s decision and its potential impact on our relationship with our international friends, and the information we share with them, will be considerable,” wrote the Conservative MPs.
“Canada cannot delay any further.”