The opposition Conservatives are urging the Liberal minority government to block Huawei from participating in Canada’s upcoming 5G network.
Canada’s allies and security experts have warned the Trudeau government that giving Huawei access could compromise national security and give China a backdoor to the country’s networks and by proxy jeopardize intelligence-sharing relationships.
“When they get Huawei into Canada or other Western countries, [China is] 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, during the Halifax International Security Forum.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has delayed making a decision on whether the company would be allowed onto the network. A decision is expected in 2020.
Britain’s newly re-elected Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is expected to make a decision on Huawei soon which may influence Canada’s final ruling.
Recent signals by Johnson have indicated that the U.K. will follow in the footsteps of other “Five Eyes” intelligence nations like Australia and the U.S. to ban Huawei from the country’s networks.
“I don’t want this country to be hostile to investment from overseas. On the other hand, we cannot prejudice our vital national security interests nor can we prejudice our ability to cooperate with other Five Eyes security partners. That will be the key criterion that informs our decision about Huawei,” said Johnson on the matter.
When polled, Canadians overwhelmingly leaned towards the government prohibiting Huawei from access, with 43% saying that Canada “definitely should not” allow the company, while 25% stated that we “probably should not” allow it.
In a bid to get on the ground floor of Canada’s 5G network, Huawei has undertaken a “diplomatically forceful” campaign to lobby Liberal ministers who are willing to hear them out. Of those mentioned as potential targets were the Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne and Finance Minister Bill Morneau, among other ministers.
As reported by True North, the company lobbied the Liberal government several days before the 2019 federal election. On October 16, Huawei met with Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to discuss security and the 5G network.
Currently, Huawei is at the centre of a diplomatic dispute between Canada and China over the arrest and detention of the company’s CFO Meng Wanzhou. Meng is wanted by the U.S. on an extradition request for allegedly breaking sanctions on Iran.
In response to her arrest, the Chinese government has detained two Canadian citizens for over a year and denied them access to legal representation.