LILLEY: Looming Huawei decision really doesn’t matter anymore

As the Prime Minister rags the puck on this issue, Huawei has taken advantage of the delay and expanded its business in Canada

Article content

With Parliament resuming Monday, one of the many anticipated decisions will be whether Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government allows Huawei into Canada’s 5G network.


Story continues below

Article content

But the bigger question, after years of delay, might be whether the decision even matters anymore.

The diplomatic damage caused by Trudeau’s foot dragging is already done. At the same time, Huawei has spent the last several years selling equipment to major phone carriers that have in turn put that gear into Canada’s telecom system.

Since the federal government announced a review of Huawei’s role in Canada’s 5G system back in 2018, the company has sold hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment per year. Those sales may be drying up as companies react to public sentiment towards Huawei but the gear is already installed in cell towers across the country.

Telus, in particular, has a significant amount of Huawei gear installed, as does Bell, though to a lesser degree. And regional player Sasktel is also heavily reliant on Huawei gear.


Story continues below

Article content

Even with announcements such as those by Bell and Telus that they will be using other equipment suppliers in the future, it will take years to fully swap out the existing gear. In essence, Huawei has taken advantage of Trudeau ragging the puck on this issue to expand their business.

  1. Chinese President Xi Jinping waves as he attends the art performance celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China on June 28, 2021 in Beijing, China.

    LILLEY: Ignore China’s warning that Canada should learn its lesson

  2. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor.

    EDITORIAL: Shame on China for what they did

  3. A file photo of China’s Peng Shuai serving during a match at the Australian Open on January 15, 2019.

    Chinese tennis player Peng will reappear in public ‘soon’: Global Times editor

In addition to their sales, Huawei vice-president Alykhan Velshi said in an interview that the company has expanded their R&D business during this time to more than 1,600 employees. He said the company will respect the decision whatever it is and whenever it comes.


Story continues below

Article content

“Our view since 2018 has been that the government should take the time to get the decision right, that it should resist pressures to rush a decision, and that this review should be seen as a marathon and not a sprint,” Velshi said.

The review has turned into a nearly four-year marathon that has only benefitted Huawei.

Security concerns were first raised in the House of Commons by then NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair in May 2012. This was shortly after Telus signed a deal with Huawei at a ceremony in Beijing attended by then Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The issue then, as now, was national security and concerns raised by our allies, in particular the Americans and Australians.

The Harper government dismissed security concerns about Huawei in much the same way as the Trudeau government has since taking power in 2015. Judging by their questions in the Commons, the Conservatives have since become quite concerned about security issues with Huawei, the NDP less concerned and the Liberals have become indecisive.


Story continues below

Article content

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Our allies have only grown more concerned.

Warnings about Huawei that started during the Obama administration and increased during the Trump administration have only continued under President Biden. In fact, just months ago, the Americans, Brits and Australians signed onto new security pact that excluded Canada.

That decision was based on the Trudeau government’s weak stance on China including allowing Huawei to continue to be part of the national wireless infrastructure. If, as expected, Huawei is officially banned from Canada’s 5G network in coming weeks, it is unlikely to do much to improve the diplomatic situation.

This review of Huawei’s future in Canada started in 2018, before Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver and before Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were kidnapped. There is no doubt that those events complicated issues but it shouldn’t have gotten to that point.

For nearly a decade, security experts and our allies have been warning Canada that Huawei being part of our telecom infrastructure was a security threat. Neither the Harper Conservatives nor Trudeau Liberals have listened.

Trudeau has taken so long with this review that when the decision comes, it won’t really matter.


    Story continues below


    Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.


    Share on facebook
    Share on twitter
    Share on pinterest
    Share on linkedin
    On Key

    Related Posts

    On AIR

    Russtrat world

    Who are you, Monsieur Zemmour?

    MOSCOW, 03 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute. The Ruptly video agency, part of the RT television company, reported that a protest rally was held in Paris