Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou high-profile extradition hearing finally wrapped up after nearly 3 years, while the ruling is expected to be released in October. Over this period of time, voices on banning Huawei from operating Canada’s 5G network grew.
On the 18th of November in late 2020, a motion initiated by the Honorable Conservative MP Michael Chong was adopted by the House of Commons. This motion, meant to encourage the development of a robust plan to combat the growing foreign operations originating from the People’s Republic of China, was presented to 324 MPs in the House, with an overwhelming majority voting in its favour. Instead of following through and having a plan developed within 30 days as expected, it proceeded to pass out of the House of Commons and into a great field of silence. Neither Trudeau nor any member of his cabinet made any reference to it.
Despite prompting, Trudeau remains silent
This prompted Mr. Chong to release a statement regarding Trudeau’s lack of action, saying “[this] failure to comply with the motion undermines democratic norms, while failing to address threats to Canada.” Mr. Chong noted that the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness had released a statement of its own, reiterating its aim to address foreign interference, but asserted that these efforts had been wholly inadequate. No plan to counter China’s foreign interference was included, let alone the robust one called for by the motion. Mr. Chong closed his statement by saying, “It’s time the Trudeau government respected the will of Parliament. It’s time they acknowledge their approach to China isn’t working.”
That was in December. On the 19th of July, 2021, a statement was issued on behalf of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, National Defence, and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness respectively. That drew reference to particular threats originating from the People’s Republic of China, but made no mention of a comprehensive security plan. In fact, nothing has changed since the December bulletin that Mr. Chong was so critical of. Even to this day, we are still in a state of uncertainty. It is necessary for the government to be responsive to the concerns and wishes of Canadians, and yet on this issue there has been no response whatsoever.
China’s professional propaganda machine
This is in spite of the People’s Republic of China’s well-documented campaigns of espionage and influence-building abroad, something noted by both The Guardian and the Asia-Pacific-centric magazine The Diplomat way back in 2018. The former notes that the PRC’s tendency to infiltrate and influence foreign media can be traced back to as early as 2003, and has been felt in the African subcontinent, in particular, since 2008, the latter observes more recent cases of spurious defamation suits being filed against documentaries critical of the Chinese Communist Party’s political influence in Australia, among other things. As recently as this year, Hong Kong has undergone an authoritarian restructuring so severe that an investigation was launched over a nonviolent incident of civil protest at a mall. This is not a good time for our government to be vague about its plans.
Our national security is paramount
Way before I became an MP candidate, I joined a group of citizens in my riding to meet my MP and reflected our concerns on Canada’s lack of confirmation on shutting Huawei out of our 5G network infrastructure. As a candidate now, I am disappointed and frustrated by the Prime Minister’s silence. The lack of a comprehensive cybersecurity plan, especially in light of the ongoing Huawei debacle, is unacceptable. Trudeau’s lack of acknowledgement on this motion, especially under the unity displayed by Opposition Parties to bring it forward in the first place, verges on infuriating. I am particularly disheartened that an act of political unity across the party line like this can simply be disregarded by the government. It does not fill me with confidence in Trudeau’s leadership, nor does it lead me to believe that any meaningful action will be taken by our government.
In closing, I feel that the Liberal government is not doing enough to address what is both a very severe threat to our national security and an ongoing issue for the rest of the world. Furthermore, I feel that the Liberal government is not doing enough to address the concerns of its own constituents. Our government needs to do more.