The Conservatives are tabling a motion in the House of Commons to force the Trudeau government to come to a decision within 30 days on whether Huawei will have access to Canada's 5G infrastructure, opposition leader Erin O'Toole announced in a press conference on Tuesday.
"We call upon the government to finally grow a spine, and make a decision on Huawei's involvement in Canada's critical 5G network within 30 days of the adoption of this motion," O'Toole stated bluntly.
O'Toole accused Huawei, aided and abetted by the Chinese government, of industrial espionage against the now-defunct Canadian telecommunications company Nortel, which went bankrupt in 2009. Such conclusions have been reached before by cybersecurity experts, military researchers, and former Nortel executives alike.
“The evidence that China compromised Nortel is indisputable,” an expert on the topic told Global News earlier in 2020. “It was being systematically compromised, and everything was being taken.” Passwords of Nortel executives were stolen, allowing Chinese agents access to company secrets. Huawei has repeatedly denied any involvement in the hacking.
"The rise of Huawei was itself facilitated by years of industrial espionage conducted by China against Nortel." O'Toole further argued that outsourcing to China goes beyond cheap manufacturing, and extends to technologically advanced products such as telecommunication too.
"Canada and our allies believed that engagement would lead to democracy. We falsely believed that ignoring the sharp edges of communism would, over time, smooth them out by putting trade ahead of our values," O'Toole stated. "Canada was so committed to this belief that we happily joined our allies in accepting China into the World Trade Organization, a decision we now know had catastrophic impacts on Canadian workers."
"Everything carried out by the Chinese Communist Party is deliberate and planned, from their lobbying campaign of western politicians to secure that WTO admission, to their effort to disrupting our industries by dumping state-subsidized cheap commodities and ignoring intellectual property laws," O'Toole alleged. "Intellectual property theft, counterfeiting, and digital piracy are not exceptions to our dealings with China, they are the reality."
O'Toole also unloaded on the Chinese Communist Party's campaign of propagandization and intimidation against Canadians.
"We tolerated Confucius institutes, basically propaganda outlets... Professors tolerated a delusion of their curriculum on human rights after being repeatedly told that their teachings shouldn't offend students from mainland China, and we stood by as pro-Beijing media outlets disseminated anti-western narratives and propaganda in our communities."
"Canadians of Chinese origin have been threatened by foreign agents in our country." O'Toole further claimed that Chinese consulates across Canada have spearheaded deplatforming campaigns against activists seeking to bring attention to Chinese human rights abuses against the people of Hong Kong and the Uyghurs of East Turkestan.
Such intimidation accusations have also been levelled by international human rights organizations such as the Uyghur Congress and Amnesty International, with documentations of intimidation and threats against human rights activists in Canada going back to at least 2017. According to a parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights, China's actions against the Uyghurs in the northwest of the country constitutes an active genocide comparable to the Holocaust.
"The very values we hold dear, like openness, justice, and tolerance, have been weaponized against us. It is now fashionable in some quarters to say that standing up for human rights is anti-Chinese racism," O'Toole warned. "I cannot say this enough, the conflict we have is with the Chinese Communist Party, not the Chinese people, and we must also recognize that the Chinese state speaks for the party, not for its people. Facing a challenge as big as this will require a national effort."