House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was huawei.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, I wonder whether the member thinks the FIPA that was signed in 2014 by Stephen Harper, signed without any input at all from Parliament, really restricts what Canada can do in terms of fettering Chinese business activities here in Canada, and whether that agreement has had any impact on why the government has taken so long to make a decision on Huawei?

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, I believe there are numerous factors going into that decision, which is currently under review. As I mentioned in my speech, there are security agencies evaluating this aspect of the question.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated that, above all, we must consider our national security here in Canada. I believe that is what is guiding the decisions of this government. It is absolutely necessary for all Canadians to keep that in mind.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Martin Champoux Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite and congratulate her on her speech.

I too want to come back to the question of Huawei. In her speech, the hon. member talked about the importance of respecting and defending our values. It is true that with a trade partner as important as China, we sometimes walk on eggshells and we have to learn to bite our tongue at times.

In the case of Huawei in particular, our Five Eyes partners and most telecommunications companies have chosen to turn their back on Huawei technology.

I wonder why it is so hard to follow suit. I do not see how we could come out looking like the bad guys in this story if we decide to join our partners when it comes to Huawei.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

I agree that some of our allies have made up their minds and others have not. I should remind hon. members of the House that we are in a very different position here in Canada. Not only are two Canadians being arbitrarily detained in China, but there are also other internal considerations that do not exist elsewhere.

I firmly believe that we must continue to work with our allies, as my colleague suggests, but we must also consider the specific situation of Canada and Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, we have heard that the government is announcing this framework by the end of the year, working on China and putting a plan together. If the government is not including Huawei 5G, or how to combat China's growing foreign operations and increasing intimidation within Canada, which is what the motion is, what is included in the framework?

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan Liberal Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, as I believe it is the first time I am responding to my colleague opposite, I would like to congratulate her on her new critic role for international trade.

Let me be very clear. The government is not saying that it is refusing to make a decision regarding Huawei now or 30 days from now. It is saying that the world is changing at an extremely rapid rate. We cannot predict where we will be in 29 days from now. Putting an arbitrary 30-day limit on this important decision does not make any sense.

We will see what will be included in the realm of possibilities on our framework between now and the end of the year. It is possible that this decision will be included, but it is possible that the world will change 100 different ways between now and then. I do not think it is in anyone's interest, not in any Canadian's national interest, to put an arbitrary deadline of 30 days on this decision.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to start by letting you know I am splitting my time with my fantastic colleague, the member for Lethbridge.

Most of my comments are concerned with the last paragraph of the motion, which I will address first. I would like to give members a bit of background about myself. I have had the privilege of accompanying former Prime Minister Stephen Harper to China three times to meet Chinese leaders and Canadians who were working or doing business in China. Those visits were very fruitful. While we were developing a closer bilateral relationship, the Harper government never hesitated to bring up issues or concerns in a respectful way.

Before joining politics, I worked as a volunteer in Chinese universities training teachers and students in entrepreneurship. I also brought international aid from Canada to remote and second-tier cities to help the poor and needy. My field experiences in China enriched me with an understanding of the people, the culture and the places I visited across China where my parents were originally from.

I represent Richmond Centre. According to the 2016 census, provided by Statistics Canada, my electoral district contains the second largest population of people of Chinese ethnic origin in the nation. It is very important and always important in any debate to distinguish between ethnicity and nationality. While my ethnic origin is Chinese, my nationality is one of being a very proud Canadian. To be exact, I was born British because I was born in Hong Kong when it was still a British colony. I started with a British passport when I came over as an immigrant over 40 years ago. Of course, I am now a proud Canadian.

While some ethnic origins are linked to a single country, many are linked to multiple countries. For instance, many of the ethnic Chinese in Richmond came from the People's Republic of China. A good number came from Hong Kong when it was still a British colony. Others came from the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan. Let us not forget those who came from China in the 18th century to build the Canada Pacific Railway and their descendants who stayed in Canada.

Finally, we have a significant number of people born in Canada, informally known as CBC, which is not the broadcasting company, but Canadian-born Chinese. There are also other ethnic Chinese immigrants who came from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and so on. Many came here to become Canadians, including myself.

My duties as a member of Parliament are focused around the Canadians who make up Richmond Centre and the issues that concern them first and foremost. I am continually grateful for them sending me to Parliament to be their voice, and it is their concerns that I have in mind. Many, if not a majority, of those residing in Richmond are immigrants. It is understandable that affairs in their place of origin get brought up in discussions. They typically have family members abroad and, sometimes, business interests and ties.

While every member of Parliament has their own policies regarding overseas events, or even those across the U.S. border, mine has been to focus my energy on the concerns of Richmond.

Many of my constituents came from Hong Kong, both before and after the July 1, 1997, handover as per the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Over the past year, some have written to me about the domestic state of affairs with protests regarding democratic freedoms in the Special Administrative Region. Indeed, with China's imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong, we have seen predictable consequences: jailing of those who dare to speak against the government and, most recently, the expulsion of democracy-supporting legislators in the legislative council. Perhaps most important has been a chilling of free speech: one of the most important elements of a functioning democracy. To those non-Canadian Hong Kongers who are interested in making a life for themselves in our great country, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has moved a bit forward in this direction, and my colleagues and I will encourage further progress.

There are numerous other stories involving Canadians who are jailed in China. The two Michaels, Kovrig and Spavor, are well known. Lesser known is the case of John Chang and Allison Lu, two Canadians who operate Lulu Island Winery in Richmond and have been detained in China since 2016 for economic reasons. As early as 2017, I brought their challenge in China to the attention of the Liberal government, but nothing seems to have been done. I bring this up because China's operations are international and affect Canadians domestically and abroad. Canada has limited power to influence affairs overseas. Given this, we must protect Canadians on Canadian soil to the extent possible, as it is clear we are not well equipped to protect Canadians abroad.

In Richmond, we also have a large population of immigrants from mainland China who wish to make better lives for themselves in Canada. Many have become Canadian citizens and, because China does not recognize dual citizenship, they gave up their Chinese nationality in the process. However, this does not cut their links to China as most have relatives up, down and across the family tree still living on the mainland. There are many stories involving coordinated Chinese state operations on Canadian soil and in other western democracies. One of these operations is the so-called United Front, which facilitates state coordination of foreign associations that consist of mainland Chinese-connected immigrants.

Another issue of foreign influence is the impact of industrial espionage. The other part of this motion talks about Huawei, but one does not need to look very far to read stories about technology being taken away from Nortel by Huawei, which used to be a Canadian contract manufacturer for Nortel. In a different age, we could build a Canadian telecommunications network with purely Canadian technology, but no more.

The most disturbing issue on an individual level is how democracy is threatened by the oppression of speech. It is very likely that any immigrant of Chinese descent who has any connection to China will be under the watchful eye of the Chinese Communist Party. If there is anything in the open that opposes the interests of China or causes embarrassment for the Communist Party, there are known examples of family members in mainland China receiving a knock on the door from the police instructing the offender to stop, or else. Both in Hong Kong and around the world, this again has a chilling effect on open and free speech.

For Canadians, especially those in Richmond, who came to Canada to enjoy our democratic freedoms, this intimidation—

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Unfortunately, the member's time is up. She will be able to add through questions and comments.

Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the member and I share something in common. We not only have an interest in the very important debate taking place right now, but we also have a very strong love and passion for the Philippines.

One of the things I wanted to bring up to my colleague is that there is no doubt that, on all sides of the House, we recognize the many issues between Canada and China. When we look at resolution, one of the things we suggested is that opposition members look at ways in which maybe they would be open to amendments dealing with the 30-day issue.

I am wondering if my colleague could provide her thoughts on the fixation of why it is felt we need to go with the 30 days.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary and I worked on many things and, as he mentioned earlier, in the Filipino Canada friendship group.

Allow me to finish the last part of my speech regarding Huawei, because that is probably exactly what the parliamentary secretary wants to comment on. While I am not as savvy with technology as some of the younger members in this chamber, I am still a keen user of mobile devices. Needless to say, I believe the security of mobile communications, including who we communicate with, should be kept within Canadian borders if at all possible.

The decision to involve Huawei in our next-generation mobile networks has undoubtedly been studied for greater certainty. This decision should be made known so providers can better prepare. The ambiguous approach currently taken by the Prime Minister is not helping.

I understand the parliamentary secretary is asking about the timeline. It is my understanding that, yes, we are open to amendments on—

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I have to interrupt to allow for other questions.

The hon. member for Terrebonne.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Boudrias Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Madam Speaker, it is really interesting that the House is finally dealing with this national security issue, which is a major concern in the world in which we live.

One thing is for certain, our society today does not have enough technical and technological resources to counter any type of foreign influence, whatever it may be. Here we are talking about competition and international markets again when, in the circumstances, Canada should act on national security grounds.

As I said earlier in the House, I think that our society could quickly come up with a design and construction plan to keep our aerospace industry going and produce everything we need. We are talking here about satellites and relay antennas for telecommunications.

I do not understand why our government does not take the bull by the horns and force an existing industry to remedy a technical situation that is threatening national security. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that because her party moved this very worthwhile motion this morning.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, the member is definitely right. It took the government two years even to come up with an answer to look at this very challenging issue. Some of my technical friends told me that by the time the government makes a decision it will no longer be 5G. It could be 6G technology, or even higher.

Canada will fall behind if the government does not make up its mind and do something really concrete to help our providers move on for a better future and for our future generations.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, Canada is standing on the precipice. Inaction and appeasement will no longer do us good. The government must take a stand and defend Canadians instead of the interests of the communist party, known as the Chinese government. Already too much time has passed. Words have been minced, and numerous promises have been made and broken, by the current government.

With this motion, the Conservatives are calling on those across the aisle to take urgent and necessary action to do two things. The first is to decide on Huawei's involvement in Canada's 5G network going forward: is it allowed or is it not? The second is to develop a robust plan to combat China's negative influence in our country, in particular using threats and intimidation to go after members of the Chinese community who live here. The status quo is no longer acceptable. Leadership is now required, and action is a must.

The new standard for broadband cellular networks is 5G. It is unique in that hyper-connectivity will not only link cellphones and computers through a local antenna, but will also connect a wide array of devices that can transmit a signal. These include self-driving cars, fancy fridges, fire alarms connected to the Internet, a plethora of medical devices and even baby monitors. If access to this network was freely granted to a foreign state that did not respect the rule of law, and therefore human rights, the potential ramifications could be absolutely disastrous. That is exactly the place we find ourselves in today: on the precipice of potential disaster.

Canada is the only member of the Five Eyes alliance that has not banned or restricted the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from its 5G network. The Five Eyes, consisting of the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada, is an alliance of like-minded nations that works together to share intelligence and signal possible security threats in order to protect one another. Every other country in this alliance has flagged Huawei as a threat and has taken action that is necessary, either by limiting access to Huawei or banning it altogether. Why has Canada not done likewise?

In May of last year, when questioned about when his government would decide or take action on this, the public safety minister at that time said, “We understand the importance and the urgency of the question.” We are here, more than a year and a half later, asking why action still has not been taken. He promised he would decide before the 2019 election whether Canada would join its Five Eyes allies in banning Huawei access. He promised that he would make that move. More than a year has passed and still absolutely nothing has happened. This is why we are here today. This is why we are demanding action. Canadians deserve a government that will act in their best interests, even if it requires hard decisions to be made. I believe that is exactly the nature of government. Governments exist to make the difficult decisions and to lead. To sit idly, as the government currently is, is to embrace and perpetuate weakness and therefore put Canadians at risk. After all, a government's first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.

With its long-term plan of becoming the world's economic superpower, China is developing what we are calling the “new silk road”, which is now the belt and road initiative. China is using an approach that is nothing short of global economic imperialism. The Chinese Communist Party has not been shy in enacting its plan to take over industry, ports, mines and infrastructure projects in other countries. The execution of this long-term game plan has been termed “debt-trap diplomacy”. Let me explain.

In 2018, I had the opportunity to spend some time in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, where I saw first-hand how China was engaging in this very practice. It was building infrastructure, putting in ring roads, tall buildings and the like to help with economic prosperity. In the end, it actually results in great harm. China propositions developing nations with a deal that sounds too good to be true.

China will make a massive investment in national resource projects, build a port for cruise ships so tourism can be expanded and build major infrastructure so it will boost the local economy. However, once the deal is signed, the Chinese government brings its own people to do most of the work rather than employ locals. If the massive loan is not paid by a set time, China actually takes ownership of the land, the resource, the port or the bridge and thereby exerts its political and economic dominance.

It is important that our leaders do not mince words when speaking of a government that is operating under false pretense for the purpose of destabilizing foreign countries to accrue more economic power.

Despite our best wishes, of which we have many, Canada is not immune to the infiltration both technologically or economically that China threatens. It is time to wake up and it is time to exercise courage. As Churchill said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision.” It is decision time.

Naively, Canada has assumed that if we play nice and seek to appease the dragon, it will not bite us. However, in what world does that work? We have to open our eyes and see the reality that is before us. I want to emphasize that appeasing a hostile actor does not result in a trusting or functional relationship. In fact, on the contrary, it creates an imbalance where one party becomes dominant and the other submissive.

The Chinese regime has proven that it only acts in the interests of itself. It does not respect international treaties and it does not share our values in Canada. Instead, it has demonstrated behaviour that is vindictive, controlling, misleading and altogether domineering. There is concrete evidence of Chinese espionage, infiltration, systematic interference in Canadian companies and the federal government.

CSIS, our national intelligence agency, has said that Beijing uses undercover agents to target members of Canada's Chinese community to silence critics of China's regime. These agents use threats of retribution against their families in China to coerce and control.

Let us not forget that the Chinese government has illegally imprisoned two Canadian citizens, Michael and Michael, and has held them captive for nearly two years in retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei CFO on an American extradition warrant. This type of behaviour is simply not acceptable.

A reasonable fear in dealing with a bad actor who does not play by the rules, however, is retaliation. It is undeniable that China holds economic leverage in almost every country, including our own. Last year, we saw China flex its muscles when it decided that it would stop buying certain agricultural exports, including canola products, again because it did not like that we arrested its tech executive. These retaliatory actions drastically hurt Canadian farmers. Therefore, we must work together to mitigate this backlash when China's communist government does not get its own way. One of the best ways we can do that is by joining forces with the other four allies.

Agriculture is also a Canadian superpower and we can use this sector to broaden our global reach, seek out new markets and minimize the amount of leverage that China currently holds over us. We need to join our allies to show that we and they are not alone. Australia has stuck its neck out, so to speak. Canada must not stand by while our allies are fighting the good fight.

Today we are calling on the government to follow in Australia's footsteps by putting together a concrete plan to stop China's actions, which are threatening Canada's national interests and our values. As a free and democratic nation, we have an obligation to continually push other countries in the direction of freedom and democracy so our fellow man can live with basic human rights.

We cannot turn a blind eye to the horrendous human rights violations, the silencing of political dissidents or the estimated million Uighurs being detained in prison camps today. We cannot ignore the plight of those sufferers in order to protect our own economic advantage.

We are currently in a faceoff with a growing economic superpower. Now is the time to stand our ground, to push back against this communist regime whose political ideology is rooted in the philosophy that preaches world domination. This is an opportunity for Canada to show leadership on the world stage, as we once did.

I urge my Liberal colleagues to take a firm stand against the Chinese Communist Party and to support this motion today. As the saying goes, “If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.”

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business

Madam Speaker, toward the end of the member's speech, she concluded by saying that Canada should take a strong position against China as we have done before.

I wonder if she could clarify that. It was my understanding, and I was not here at the time, that under the Conservative government of former prime minister Stephen Harper, Canada concluded a FIPA agreement on foreign investment and that Prime Minister Harper went to China on three occasions in order to continue to deepen his relationship with China.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, we are talking about more than 20 years of history. A finger cannot be pointed at any one government or any one political party.

Today, I am not bringing forward a partisan motion; I am bringing forward a motion on behalf the Canadian people. I am standing up for their best interests. I am standing up for the safety and security of this very country. That is the first role of government, and it is time for the Liberal government to take action.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, the member has spoken up about the way the Chinese government aggressively takes its own initiative throughout the world.

We have been saying to the Liberal government that more must be done to protect our citizens in Canada. One of the things that I heard at the special committee on Canada-China relations was that when foreign agents were intimidating our citizens or were trying to impose the will of the Chinese government, there was no central agency or phone number to take their information. Many law enforcement agencies will say that they handle property crime, theft and some other acts of violence, but we do not handle intimidation by a foreign state.

There is a role to be played by the Canadian government. Does the member believe that more needs to be done so our intelligence agencies can act on this intelligence to force these agents out in the open?

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, at the end of the day, individuals of Chinese ancestry have chosen to call Canada home. Many of them are Canadian citizens. Many of them have been here for generations. These individuals are receiving intimidating phone calls, intimidating emails and other forms of communication from the Chinese communist government. These intimidations are being used against them to try to silence them. That is wrong.

Canada and the government can play a role by putting in place a central agency where these individuals, who come under these threats from the communist party, are able to then report those actions and then counteraction by authorities in Canada are able to respond. However, if we do not give that opportunity and provide those outlets, then the government is actually misstepping in its role and responsibility with regard to the safety and security of Canadian citizens. That is wrong.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be frank with my Conservative colleagues. This is an excellent motion. It is a very fine motion that is very well worded. I probably would have even been happy to move it myself with one difference: the 30-day deadline.

If we want this motion to have a major impact, why set an unrealistic deadline? Earlier, we were asked to draw a line in the sand. I think that, if we want this motion to work and have an impact, then we might need to think about removing the 30-day deadline.

What does my hon. colleague think about that?

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I said in my speech that the former public safety minister promised in May 2019 that action would be imminent. He said that action would be taken before the 2019 election. The 2019 election took place in October of last year. That is more than 380 days ago. Thirty days is no problem. Let us come up with a plan. We have been waiting more than 380 days. A plan in 30 days? The government should get to it.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona, Seniors; the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, The Environment; the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable, Official Languages.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I am always pleased to rise in the House on behalf of my constituents of Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia and also on behalf of the Bloc Québécois as the critic for public safety and national security. Furthermore, I would like to thank my colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills for all the work he has done on the matter before us today.

Before I begin, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean.

I will start with a number: 708. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have now been arbitrarily detained in China for 708 days. These two men have not been able to hold their respective families in their arms for 708 days. During that time, Ottawa has not done much. Since these two Canadians were unfairly detained without cause, relations have continued to deteriorate. Now, everyone is paying the price for Ottawa's lack of vision.

China's foreign policy became particularly aggressive with the arrival of the Communist Party of China's new leader. One example is that more than one million Uighurs were imprisoned in concentration camps, which was recently described as genocide by the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. I also want to commend my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean for his work on the subcommittee.

In addition, a law was passed, forcing Chinese businesses to help collect intelligence, and then there is the Hong Kong national security law, which radically diminishes the political freedom and freedom of expression of residents. Furthermore, this aggression is not reserved for territories that China considers its own.

Take, for example, the use of economic blackmail to force businesses and individuals to conform to China's vision of the world. Canadian companies like Air Canada must now write “Taipei, China” instead of “Taipei, Taiwan”, after China threatened to cut off access to Chinese airports. Another example is China's repression against Hong Kong, in violation of international commitments taken during the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.

Over the past few years, China has been very aggressive and expansionist toward its neighbours, including with the development and military occupation of an archipelago near the Philippines and everywhere else in the South China Sea.

We have to face the facts. The Chinese Communist Party will continue to assert itself more aggressively and its influence, backed by its staggering economic weight and massive investment in its military capacity, will continue to grow and become more dangerous than ever for the national security of Quebec and Canada.

The wilfully blind strategy of Ottawa is not working. Doing nothing in the hope that the situation improves is futile. We need a government that takes China seriously. We need a government that will govern with strong principles and defend its citizens against the repeated attacks of communist China.

On September 10, an investigation by the Journal de Montréal showed that even Quebeckers here in Montreal were victims of espionage and intimidation at the hands of Beijing. What is the government doing? It is doing nothing. People here at home are being targeted by the communist Chinese regime and Ottawa is asleep at the switch. It is unacceptable.

There is still no plan to protect us apart from allowing Huawei, a Chinese company, to work its way deep into our telecommunications network, thereby jeopardizing national security. This company has been involved in numerous spying scandals, even spying on the African Union. In 2012, China gave the African Union a fully equipped ultramodern building. China supplied everything: networks, computers and telecommunications systems.

In 2017, African computer scientists realized that the servers were sending out huge amounts of data at night, when nobody was working in the building. They discovered that the data was going to servers in China that were being used to spy on political leaders and staff. Who was the main supplier of the infrastructure? Huawei.

Here is another example of the threat the Chinese government poses to Quebec. Three years ago, China adopted a new national intelligence law. All Chinese companies are obligated to contribute to Chinese intelligence work, be it military or civilian intelligence. Nothing is left out.

For example, a company could be told to spy on behalf of another Chinese company to give China an advantage on the world stage. China has always denied that its companies are required to conduct espionage in other countries, but western intelligence services agree that Chinese law applies abroad.

For these obvious reasons, which only the Liberal government stubbornly refuses to acknowledge, experts worry about including Chinese components in essential infrastructure such as telecommunications networks. The British are phasing in a Huawei ban and will shut the company out completely by 2023.

Everyone agrees: intelligence services, the CIA and CSIS consider the threat too great and believe that the company should be banned.

The United States has banned Huawei from developing the 5G network in that country and is pushing for its NATO allies to follow suit, which Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain have done.

Australia, which became a victim of China's growing influence, adopted its foreign influence transparency scheme in 2018. All individuals and companies acting for the benefit of a foreign country in the political sphere must register and provide details about their activities in a public register. The law also prohibits overseas donations. The most important aspect of this Australian law is that it criminalizes all hidden foreign influence operations, in other words by an individual or organization that is not registered in a public registry. Any attempt to engage in covert propaganda for the benefit of a foreign state is illegal and could result in a five-year prison sentence.

All of Canada's allies have taken a clear stand against Huawei in the development of 5G technology, yet this Liberal government continues to create uncertainty. However, our response should be unequivocal and aligned with that of our closest allies. I sincerely wonder what the government is waiting for to act.

I will take this opportunity to say a few words about the issue of artificial intelligence. In an article that appeared in La Presse last January, we learned that Canada is a real hotbed for Chinese spies. Many have moved to Canada to gain better access to the United States and to steal all kinds of civilian and military industrial secrets, such as genetically modified corn seeds, technical documents on fighter planes, composite materials used in the construction of vehicles and anti-submarine equipment. The FBI estimates the theft of intellectual property in the United States to be between $300 billion U.S. and $600 billion U.S.

If they can do it in the United States, they can certainly do it in Canada. According to Wesley Wark, professor of international relations at the University of Ottawa, the time has come to make a radical shift, and major investments and to really step up our counter-espionage efforts. It is imperative that we protect Canadian and Quebec companies that continue to earn international renown for Canada.

Let us be very clear: China intends to become the greatest artificial intelligence power in the world. In 2017, China implemented its artificial intelligence development plan as part of a project of unprecedented scale: the brand new silk road, which now includes 70 countries in a connected infrastructure plan. Once again, let us be clear. With this project, China plans to become the largest economic power in the world, and the project will protect its economic, military and diplomatic interests.

Why must we talk about artificial intelligence and the silk road? I bring it up because the Chinese industry will be fully connected through artificial intelligence within five years. It will produce goods and control companies by balancing supply and demand. On top of controlling the entire Chinese industry, artificial intelligence will monitor and control the Chinese people very tightly.

Let us not fool ourselves. This technology will not be limited to China. China has already exported its technology to authoritarian governments around the world, which will allow them to control their own people. For example, Chinese telecommunications company ZTE is rolling out a system to control the people of Venezuela through the brand new fatherland card, an ID card that records information about citizens.

China is not just strictly monitoring and clamping down on its people's political freedoms and freedom of speech. It is exporting its model, and that is worrisome. We could continue talking about this for a long time, but I will close by saying that I will support my Conservative colleague's motion.

I do, however, want to express some reservations about this motion, as my colleagues did before me. It seems unrealistic and counterproductive to me to ask the government to adopt a plan to fight interference from China in Canada in 30 days. I realize that the legislative and parliamentary process is always too long, but we must not exaggerate either. We are asking the government to resolve a problem that is currently being examined by various committees, including the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations and the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, of which I am currently a member.

We would likely end up with an incomplete and ineffective plan that would be created hastily and would not help improve things very much, if at all. I think that a longer, more reasonable deadline would enable the committees to participate in developing that plan in a constructive manner.

Honestly, I have a hard time understanding why the Conservatives are not waiting for the findings of the committee that they themselves created before coming to their own conclusions. The Liberals seem open to this proposal and they wanted to amend the motion, but now the Conservatives do not seem to agree. We need to stop encouraging—

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I am sure the hon. member can finish her remarks during questions and comments.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the number of thoughts the member stated this afternoon.

I have followed the debate throughout the day, and I think parliamentarians on all sides of the House share many of the concerns expressed within the motion. The government did attempt, as the member referenced, to make an amendment to the motion so that we do not get fixated on the 30 days and we take a look at the bigger picture. The member made reference to other standing committees that are dealing with this, so let us not prejudge things. Let us try to continue to move forward on this very important file. It would be a whole lot better, I suspect, if we saw unanimous support for a motion dealing with the substance of this motion.

Why is there a fixation on the 30 days? Could the member indicate to the House whether she would fully support the motion if it were amended as suggested by the government?

Opposition Motion—Foreign Policy Toward ChinaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

November 17th, 2020 / 5 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I agree with him 100% on that.

I think we could be a bit more flexible and take more than 30 days. As my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean was saying a bit earlier, we are in full agreement with this excellent motion, which is a necessary one. I shared plenty of facts, and the Chinese situation is worrisome.

Yes, the legislative process always takes too long, but 30 days seems a bit tight to me. I think we can set aside the partisan sparring and get Liberals, Conservatives, the Bloc and the NDP to sit down together. I think that is the best way to agree on a reasonable deadline and a good solution.