Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. O’Toole says Chinese telecom giant Huawei rose to power by stealing the technology of the defunct Canadian firm Nortel. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. O’Toole says Chinese telecom giant Huawei rose to power by stealing the technology of the defunct Canadian firm Nortel. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Tories push Liberals to decide 5G, Huawei amid China imprisonment of Kovrig, Spavor

China has imprisoned two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor

Chinese telecom giant Huawei rose to dominance by stealing the technology of the defunct Canadian firm Nortel, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says.

O’Toole levelled the industrial-espionage charge against Huawei and the Chinese Communist Party on Tuesday as he announced that the Conservatives are pushing the Liberals to decide within 30 days which companies can provide Canada’s next-generation 5G wireless internet technology.

“The rise of Huawei was itself facilitated by years of industrial espionage conducted by China against Nortel,” O’Toole told a press conference on Parliament Hill.

“Intellectual-property theft, counterfeiting and digital piracy are not exceptions to our dealings with China. They are the reality, and it’s high time our government and many corporate leaders realize that,” the Conservative leader added.

“We may have lost Nortel to Huawei … but we can and must learn from it. Because if we don’t, we have to accept that another company will be next.”

Nortel Networks Corp., a once mighty Canadian telecom giant, filed for bankruptcy in 2009, becoming one of the country’s most spectacular business failures. Two years later, Nortel executed the biggest patent sale in history, raising billions in cash, when it auctioned off 6,000 patents to a consortium that included Apple and Microsoft.

The Conservatives introduced a motion in the House of Commons that demands the government decide whether Huawei ought to be banned from participating in Canadian 5G networks amid the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Canada and the People’s Republic.

China has imprisoned two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, in apparent retaliation for the RCMP’s arresting Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou nearly two years ago on a U.S. extradition warrant.

The United States is pressuring Canada and its allies in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network to ban Huawei because it views the company as an espionage arm of the Chinese state, a charge the company denies.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was noncommittal Tuesday on the timing of his government’s long-awaited 5G decision. He reiterated his government’s position that it is relying on the advice of security and intelligence agencies, is consulting with allies, and is committed to keeping Canadians and their businesses safe.

O’Toole said he wants the matter debated in the Commons and wants a new strategy for relations with China, because the Liberals have not done enough stand up to its intimidation of Canada.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said during question period that he is open to working with the Conservatives on national security and foreign policy and would be prepared to propose constructive amendments moving forward.

Champagne said the government is working on a new plan to deal with China because China is not the same country it was four years ago and Canada needs a plan to respond to the “new reality.”

O’Toole said China poses long-standing domestic risks, including threats from its foreign agents to Chinese-Canadians and the peddling of anti-western propaganda through post-secondary Confucius Institute partnerships as well as Chinese media outlets.

“It is now fashionable in some quarters to say that say that standing up for human rights is anti-Chinese racism and that denouncing Chinese state bullying is paternalistic,” said O’Toole.

“When a dictatorship starts having so much influence, to the point that protecting Canadian citizens on Canadian soil is now an open question for a debate, you know we have a problem.”

Trudeau told O’Toole during question period that Canadian security agencies are actively protecting Canadians from foreign influence and interference.

“Not all of it appears in the newspapers. On the contrary, a lot of the work that is done in important situations is never heard of at all,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister also said the government is working with Canadian universities, industry partners and national security agencies to protect research projects from threats.

“We will always protect data and intellectual property, advance science and ensure that international research partnerships are always beneficial to Canadians,” said Trudeau.

Champagne told reporters after a Monday night cabinet meeting that the government takes reports of Chinese foreign intimidation seriously and that he is working with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to address it.

“Our security and intelligence community, including CSIS and the RCMP, are actively investigating threats of foreign interference and espionage, and where the evidence exists, we will take action,” Blair said Tuesday.

O’Toole acknowledged there could be an economic cost to Canada taking his proposed harder line against China, but he played down the potential effects.

Asked whether his party’s action would expose Kovrig and Spavor to reprisals from their Chinese captors, he blamed Trudeau for not doing enough to secure their release.

“I think about the two Michaels every day, and I think many Canadians do,” he said.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ChinaConservative Party of CanadaHuaweiLiberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Cowichan strengthens some COVID-19 safety protocols, and introduces new ones, as the pandemic enters ts second phase. (File photo)
North Cowichan and CVRD implementing new COVID rules

Municipality reacting to new public health orders

Search and rescue crews from all over Vancouver Island responded to calls to assist with the search for a 19 year-old man with medical issues who got lost on trails in the south end of Duncan on Nov. 21. The man was found Sunday morning and taken to hospital for assessment. (Submitted photo)
Duncan man rescued after getting lost on local trails

19-year-old taken to hospital for assessment

Duncan’s Knights of Columbus hand out cheques to a slew of deserving organizations in an online event Nov. 8, 2020. (Submitted)
Duncan Knights of Columbus hand cheques to lucky 13 in virtual event

Another historic first for the Knights was to have two area mayors join the presentation

Changes to the holidays due to COVID-19 will be a challenge for people with dementia. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Webinars aim to help those with dementia approach holidays

“The holidays can present difficulties for people living with dementia for a multitude of reasons”

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Most Read