Canada’s review of Huawei won’t be derailed by threats, Goodale says


Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is brushing off recent threats from China’s envoy to Canada, who warned of « repercussions » if the federal government bans the Chinese firm Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment to Canadian 5G networks.

Goodale spoke to reporters Friday during the Liberal cabinet retreat in Sherbrooke, Que., a day after Ambassador Lu Shaye told the media at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa that « there will be repercussions » if Canada bans Huawei from its 5G network. Lu did not say what those repercussions would be.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau followed up on Goodale’s remarks during the closing press conference of the retreat, saying that China should keep its politics seperate from business.

« One of the things that is of concern in this situation is the apparent blending of Chinese commercial interests with Chinese political positioning and consequences, » Trudeau said. « This is something that I think should be of concern, not just to Canadians but to people around the world. »

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to reporters in Sherbrooke, Quebec on Friday 0:44

Ottawa is studying the security implications of allowing the Chinese company to help develop the next generation of mobile infrastructure in Canada, which promises to be 10 to 20 times faster than current wireless connections and is designed to serve medical devices, self-driving cars and other connected technology. Unlike some of its allies, however, Canada has not announced a ban on Huawei equipment.

Goodale said Friday that China also threatened Australia when it reviewed Huawei’s role in its telecommunications network.

« We understand that those sorts of comments will be made in the process, but we will make our judgment based on what’s right for Canada and not be deterred from making the right decision, » he told reporters.

Chinese ambassador, Lu Shaye, warns there may be « repercussions » if Canada bans Huawei from its 5G network

Ambassador Lu Shaye spoke reporters at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa 0:51

Goodale wouldn’t say when Canada is expected to finish its 5G review.

« We will make the appropriate analysis and take the decision ultimately that we believe to be in Canada’s national interests, » he said. « We’ve made it abundantly clear that we will not compromise national security. »

Trudeau said Canada would continue to follow the rule of law and that China and the rest of the world would be better off if Beijing did the same.

« We are reliant in this globalized and largely peaceful world on agreed-to rules and principles that must be respected if we are all to prosper together. That is the point we are respectfully and firmly making to China, » Trudeau said. 

Other Five Eyes countries have banned Huawei

Huawei has long insisted it is not a state-controlled company and denies engaging in intelligence work for the Chinese government. However, Chinese law dictates that companies must « support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work. »

Most of Canada’s partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance have taken action against the telecommunications firm.

New Zealand and Australia have banned the use of Huawei products in their 5G network development, fearing Huawei could use its access to spy for the Chinese government.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced bills that would ban the sale of U.S. chips or other components to Huawei, ZTE Corp. or other Chinese firms that violate U.S. sanctions or export control laws.

The bills specifically cite ZTE and Huawei, both of which are viewed with suspicion in the United States because of fears that their switches and other gear could be used to spy on Americans. Huawei is the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker.

« Other countries have obviously made their views known, and their views are important to us. And we will weigh all of that very carefully and in the decision-making process, » said Goodale.

China’s Ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye is warning Ottawa against banning Huawei Technologies from participating in Canada’s 5G networks. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The back-and-forth between the ambassador and minister is the latest development in a deepening bilateral dispute.

Relations between China and Canada were put on ice last month when Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request.

China then detained two Canadian citizens: businessman Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave to work for a non-governmental organization based in China.

McCallum briefing parliamentary committee 

Lu maintains the arrests of Spavor and Kovrig were legal and just while the arrest of Meng was the opposite.

Earlier this week, a Chinese court sentenced Canadian Robert Schellenberg to death for his alleged role in the smuggling of 222 kilograms of methamphetamines. His lawyer said he plans to appeal.

In the wake of that ruling, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Beijing of arbitrarily using the death penalty and called world leaders to solicit their support.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she will continue to see support from Canada’s allies in its dispute with China despite warnings from the Chinese ambassador to Canada to not to do so. 1:12

Lu said the current impasse could be resolved through negotiations, but those negotiations would be threatened if Canada were to ban Huawei Technologies from participating in Canada’s new 5G network for security reasons.

Trudeau spoke today with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. The two « reaffirmed their commitment to supporting multilateralism and the rules-based international order, » according to a PMO readout of the call. 

« Trudeau and the secretary-general discussed the arbitrary detention of two Canadians in China, the application of the death penalty to a third Canadian in China, and the importance of safeguarding international norms, including diplomatic immunity, judicial independence and respect for the rule of law, » the readout said. 

‘Last arrow in our quiver’

The Conservatives have urged Trudeau to speak directly to Chinese Xi Jinping. Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, was in Ottawa Friday to brief a Parliament committee. He described a phone call to Xi as the « last arrow in our quiver. »

« I think it is more effective if other means are deployed before we get to that point, » he said.

The briefing was held behind closed doors. McCallum told reporters he expected to tell the committee some things that the families of Spavor and Kovrig might not want aired publicly.

John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, talks to reporters after briefing members of the Foreign Affairs committee regarding China in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 (Chris Rands/CBC)

Despite the diplomatic tensions, McCallum said he believes it’s safe for most Canadians to travel to China, but added anyone who has had a past run-in with Chinese authorities might want to stay away.

He said his security detail suggested he remove the Canadian flags on his diplomatic car, but he called it a « crazy idea. »

« I drive proudly with the Canadian flag, » he said.

Both countries have issued travel warnings.

On Monday night, Global Affairs changed its online travel advisory for China to advise Canadians to « exercise a high degree of caution due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws. »

A day later, China issued its own advisory and urged its citizens to « fully evaluate risks » and exercise caution when travelling to Canada, citing the « arbitrary detention » of Meng.


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Mayoral forum on affordable housing derailed by gate-crashing candidates, shouting


What was meant to be a mayoral forum on affordable housing briefly descended into chaos Monday night as crowd members stood and chanted and uninvited mayoral candidates either dominated or refused to leave the stage.

The forum, in the auditorium at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, was planned as a night for candidates to present their platforms on affordable housing.

Police clear disruptive audience members at a mayoral forum on affordable housing at the University of Toronto on Monday.
Police clear disruptive audience members at a mayoral forum on affordable housing at the University of Toronto on Monday.  (Emily Mathieu/Toronto Star)

Moderator Angela Robertson, executive director of the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, started the event in a thoughtful tone and throughout and after the chaos somehow managed to keep the night moving.

“We need a mayor and candidates who will say yes to housing in my backyard. They must believe that cities must be a home” that belongs to all of us, said Robertson, at the start of the night.

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The disruption began a few minutes after the candidates took the stage when some in the audience shouted in support of allowing white nationalist candidate Faith Goldy to debate.

The chaos escalated when mayoral candidate Kevin Clarke — who had joined the speakers on stage — began loudly shouting he would debate Goldy, given the chance.

The invited candidates then left the stage as police escorted some of most disruptive members of the audience out, including Clarke.

Uninvited candidate D!ONNE Renée — who planted herself on stage at the start of the night — remained on stage throughout the disruption.

After the disruption, Robertson resumed control of the stage and invited Gebresellassi back, where she slammed Tory for not attending and Keesmaat for not returning to the stage.

That decision to leave “should tell each and every one of us that this is no progressive champion for us.”

Campaign spokesperson Beth Clarkson sent a short emailed statement in response to a question from the Star about why Keesmaat left.

“Jennifer left the stage when it seemed there was no longer an opportunity for open discussion. It’s unfortunate tonight’s event was so chaotically disrupted and she hopes no one was injured,” said Clarkson.

Climenhaga next called for raising property taxes or finding additional funding streams for more housing. “The only way we will have housing is if we fund it.”

Renée lambasting the media for not covering her campaign, which she called the most progressive of all the candidates. “If we say we are about centring issues of housing and homelessness that is what we need to do.”

Outside of the occasional bout of shouting — from one straggler screaming in support of Goldy and some animated audience members — the rest of the evening remained mostly on track, thanks largely to calm direction from moderator Robertson.

Once the invited candidates were called up to share more information about their platforms, Robertson encouraged any other candidates in the audience to speak and then opened up the talk for audience questions. She closed out by thanked everybody who stayed and organizers for pivoting.

“When we are working for social change we need to be prepared for messes,” she said.

The night was organized by about 60 agencies who created an affordable housing pledge, that was sent to all candidates for mayor and city council in late September.

Included in the proposed steps: “No more homeless deaths, financial stability for Toronto Community Housing, make ‘affordable housing’ truly affordable, ensure new residential development includes everyone (and) mobilize Toronto’s resources to build more affordable housing.”

Keesmaat, Gebresellassi and Climenhaga have signed. Tory has not, but sent the group a letter on Monday detailing his actions on and commitments to the issues.

Tory and leading contender Keesmaat have both pledged to boost affordable rental housing stock across the city, promising to create 40,000 new units in 12 years and 100,000 over 10, respectively. Both have also pledged to repair and protect ailing social housing stock, which includes Toronto Community Housing.

Emily Mathieu is a Toronto-based reporter covering affordable and precarious housing. Follow her on Twitter: @emathieustar


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