The arrest of Huawei executive Wanzhou Meng has given the Conservatives additional ammunition in pressuring the federal government to ban the Chinese telecom giant from Canada’s 5G network.
Meng, the CFO of Huawei Technologies and the owner’s daughter, was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 at the behest of U.S. authorities on suspicion she violated Iran trade sanctions.
During question period on Dec. 6, Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus asked whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will take the step of banning Huawei in light of Meng’s arrest.
“Ms. Meng is accused of trying to circumvent the US embargo against Iran. In addition, the director of CSIS was very clear when he warned the government of the intensification of state-sponsored espionage maneuvres,” Paul-Hus said, referring to recent comments by David Vigneault, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
In his reply, David Lametti, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, noted that the Liberals “promised Canadians we would improve quality coverage and price for their services. 5G is an emerging technology that is part of that picture,” he said.
“However, when it comes to Huawei’s participation in that system, we will rely on our intelligence services to provide us with the kind of advice that they have traditionally given us. We will never ever compromise our national security.”
Paul-Hus countered that Lametti was using “old lines from a couple of weeks ago, because the situation is changing rapidly.”
“Currently, the majority of Five Eyes countries have banned Huawei. Today, it is reported that British Telecom has confirmed that it is removing Huawei equipment from key areas of its 4G network and the MI6 manager has been questioning the Chinese company about its activities in the U.K. telecommunications infrastructure. Our economic, security and military interests are at risk,” he said.
MP Dan Albas also raised the issue of Meng’s arrest and banning Huawei from Canada’s fifth-generation wireless, the latest iteration of cellular technology.
“The CFO of that communist Chinese government-controlled company is suspected to have violated sanctions on Iran. This is not an organization we want involved in our communication network. Our allies say act. Our security officials say act, yet this government refuses to do anything,” he said.
“Every day we get more reasons to ban Huawei from our 5G network. Yesterday, it was a warning from the head of CSIS. Today, it is the CFO of the company being arrested in Vancouver for allegedly violating sanctions on Iran. Huawei will be forced to spy on Canadians for the Communist Chinese government.
“Will the Liberals finally commit to securing our next generation network and ban Huawei?”
In his reply, Lametti reiterated that national security would not be compromised.
“We will rely on our national security experts in making a final decision. I can assure this House that that decision will be one that reflects Canada’s national security interests,” he said.
Although he didn’t single out China, Vigneault said foreign interference and espionage are the biggest threats to Canada’s national interest, indicating businesses, academic institutions, and the technology sector, such as Canada’s emerging 5G technology network, are potential targets of state-sponsored espionage.
The United States, Australia, and New Zealand, three of the five members of the intelligence alliance Five Eyes, have banned Huawei from their 5G networks, leaving only Canada and the United Kingdom without a ban.
Meng’s arrest has been dominating the headlines all week. It is expected she will be extradited to the United States after a court hearing in Vancouver on Dec. 7.
A previous version of this article misstated the date of Meng’s arrest. The Epoch Times regrets the error.