OTTAWA — A united federal opposition has supported a Conservative motion to insist the Liberal government take a harder line against what it says are national-security threats from China.
The motion, sponsored by Tory foreign affairs critic Michael Chong, passed Wednesday by 179 votes to 146 and calls on the government to decide within 30 days whether to allow China’s Huawei Technologies to supply equipment for Canada’s next generation 5G wireless networks.
It also calls on the government to table a plan within 30 days to deal with growing intimidation by China of Canadians within Canada’s borders.
The motion says Canada needs to “develop a robust plan, as Australia has done, to combat China’s growing foreign operations here in Canada and its increasing intimidation of Canadians living in Canada, and table it within 30 days of the adoption of this motion.”
The Liberal government has delayed deciding on which companies can supply equipment for providers of 5G networks since China imprisoned two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, nearly two years ago in apparent retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.
China blames the Trump administration for trying to undermine Huawei by targeting Meng, which has left Canada in the middle of a trade war between the world’s two major economic powers.
The U.S. says Huawei is an espionage arm of the Chinese military and has urged Canada and Western allies not to use its technology, but the company rejects that accusation.
Alykhan Velshi, vice-president of corporate affairs for Huawei Technologies Canada, said Wednesday that the company has been a good corporate citizen since coming to Canada in 2008.
“During these 12 years in Canada, Huawei has never received a complaint from the Canadian government or any of our customers about a single privacy or security breach involving Huawei equipment in Canada,” said Velshi, who previously worked as a senior adviser in the office of former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.
He noted that in 2012, Harper travelled to Beijing and “witnessed the signing of one of Huawei’s first commercial agreements with a Canadian telecom operator.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press