The Conservatives are calling on the federal government not to compensate Canada’s large telecom corporations with taxpayer money for choosing to install Huawei’s equipment for their next-generation 5G networks if the Liberals go ahead with a ban on Huawei 5G.
“Canadians should not have to pay for the Trudeau government’s failure to make the right decision and ban Huawei years ago,” wrote Conservative Shadow Minister for Public Safety, Raquel Dancho, and Conservative Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, Ed Fast, in a letter sent Dec. 3.
The Tory MPs said their letter, addressed to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, came after recent reports that Bell and Telus, two of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, are seeking over $1 billion in compensation from public money if Huawei is banned from Canada’s telecom networks.
“Canadian taxpayers—who are already experiencing record-high inflation, and struggling to afford basic necessities like groceries, gas, and home heating—should not be forced to subsidize the private business decisions of some of Canada’s most profitable companies,” said the letter.
Despite security concerns, both Bell and Telus had earlier decided to proceed with integrating Huawei in their 5G networks, while the federal government had not made an announcement on its decision. In 2019, Rogers made the decision to shun the Beijing-linked company from its 5G network due to security issues. Bell and Telus reversed course in June 2020, announcing partnerships with Huawei’s European rivals for 5G networks.
According to the National Post, Huawei’s vice-president of corporate affairs Alykhan Velshi said the company has sold over $700 million worth of equipment to telecom operators in Canada since 2018.
“The inability of the federal government to show leadership on this file and take decisive action has been exploited by Huawei, which has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of critical equipment to Canadian companies each year that have been installed in their telecom networks from across the country,” the Tory letter said.
The Liberal government previously delayed the decision to ban Huawei due to concerns about the safety of the two Canadians—Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor—who were imprisoned in China. The two men were released and returned to Canada in September.
All of Canada’s allies in the Five Eyes—the intelligence alliance with Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States—have either banned or heavily restricted the use of Huawei equipment in their 5G infrastructure due to “concerns that such technology could be used for espionage purposes and undermine our broader security and economic interests,” the Conservative MPs said.
These concerns stem from the fact that China’s National Intelligence Law demands Chinese private companies and citizens support, assist, and cooperate with state intelligence work. Critics have contended that Huawei’s participation in Canada’s 5G network could give the communist regime access to an array of personal information, including the habits and whereabouts of Canadians using internet-connected devices.
The Tory letter also called on the federal government to “be transparent with Canadians” and announce a date for its decision on banning Huawei from Canada’s 5G infrastructure.