Lobby records show that Huawei Canada met with an official from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) on October 16th to discuss security and being included in the country’s 5G network.
“Meetings with Government in discussion of Huawei Canada current and long term investments and business objectives in Canada. Discussions of matters related to domestic and global security assurance practices,” wrote the meeting’s subject matter details.
The meeting, which took place six days before the federal election, involved Huawei president Eric Li and ISED Senior Assistant Deputy Minister Mitch Davies.
The main subject matter of the meeting involved telecommunications and international trade but also included issues such as academic research collaboration and foreign investment in the telecoms industry.
Huawei recently announced its plan to engage in a “diplomatically forceful” lobbying program targeting specific cabinet members. Among the ministers listed as potential lobbying targets was the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains.
After the election, the Trudeau government renamed the Ministry Innovation, Science and Economic Development to the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry (ISI). Melanie Joly now has the Economic Development file.
The Chinese company has emerged as a major player in the tech world. In 2018, Huawei replaced Apple as the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. Its increasing presence has raised alarms regarding the company’s links to the Chinese government.
True North reached out to the department and asked to clarify what the conversation was about and whether China’s detention of two Canadians was brought up.
“Department officials routinely meet with stakeholders in the telecommunications sector to discuss issues related to competition, choice, availability of services, and to the investment climate,” said ISI spokesperson Hans Parmar.
Canada’s allies, including those from the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, have repeatedly warned the Prime Minister to not give the company access to the network due to national security concerns over the company’s ties with China.
While at the Halifax International Security Forum, U.S. lawmakers warned Canada that deciding to allow China into the network could jeopardize the allies’ intelligence relationship.
“It would make it very difficult to have a full intelligence-sharing [relationship] with a partner who has installed a direct line to Beijing,” said Senator Angus King, who is also a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.
“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,” said White House National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien, referring to the Chinese government.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make a decision soon on whether the Chinese company will be allowed into Canada’s 5G network.
The newly appointed Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has said that there is no timeline on when the decision would be made.
“While the Government of Canada cannot comment on specific companies, an examination of emerging 5G technology and the associated security and economic considerations is underway. This review includes the careful consideration of our allies’ advice,” said ISI spokesperson Hans Parmar.