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Justin Trudeau should ban Huawei, show ‘leadership’ over China’s detention of Canadians: Erin O’Toole

WATCH: It's time for Trudeau to show leadership, phone the Chinese president and ban Huawei, says Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O'Toole

The escalating fight with China over its detentions of two Canadians requires Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to show clear “leadership.”

And he should start by banning Huawei.

READ MORE: Who has taken action against telecom giant Huawei and why Canada hasn’t

That was the argument made by Erin O’Toole, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, in an interview with the West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

Speaking hours after an in-camera briefing on the detentions to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee by John McCallum, Canadian ambassador to China, O’Toole said the meeting only confirmed his suspicions the government does not seem to have a plan to resolve the dispute.

READ MORE: Huawei executive arrested in Poland says spying allegations ‘groundless’

“We didn’t get clear answers at any stage and that should trouble Canadians,” he said.

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“We got a sense today from Ambassador McCallum there was no plan. He’s a former Liberal minister so he was trying to say what a good job Justin Trudeau and his team are doing. Justin Trudeau’s calling every other world leader but the one who holds the keys to the prisons that Canadians are in. He’s waiting for a photo-op instead of leading towards a resolution.”

WATCH BELOW: Goodale provides no timeline on Canada banning Huawei

Goodale provides no timeline on Canada banning Huawei
Goodale provides no timeline on Canada banning Huawei

China detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor last month on accusations of “endangering national security.”

Those detentions both came roughly a week and a half after Canadian authorities arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of the Americans, who allege her company has been using a subsidiary to skirt U.S. sanctions on doing business with Iran.

China has linked the detentions with the Meng arrest but Canadian officials have refused to do so.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, has repeatedly called the detentions “arbitrary” and the government has rallied statements expressing concern about those detentions from close to a dozen allies over recent weeks.

Two staff from Huawei in Poland have also been arrested on allegations of spying.

But while Canada’s Five Eyes allies and some of their largest companies have banned Huawei from being used in “critical” core components of their telecom networks, the Canadian government has not.

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O’Toole said that issue is at the core of the current situation and that Canada needs to step up to ban Huawei like its allies.

“This is at its heart, Huawei,” O’Toole said.

“We’ve been calling for some time for Canada to be clear like our other allies in the Five Eyes. Huawei should not be part of our 5G network.”

In 2012, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee published a report arguing Huawei posed an unacceptable risk to national security because of fears its technology could be used to spy for China.

Since then, Washington has been pushing for allies to ban Huawei from their core infrastructure and over the past year, put in place bans of its own.

When asked why the former Conservative government didn’t ban Huawei itself, O’Toole said the issues in those years focused more broadly on cybersecurity.

“It wasn’t at the point that the 5G network was being contemplated,” he said. “Certainly we expressed concerns with Chinese espionage, cybersecurity issues. This is always something we dealt with directly.”

The auction for spectrum on the 5G network is supposed to take place in either 2019 or 2020.

But a date has not been officially set and nor has one been laid out for the review currently being conducted into the security of Huawei 5G technology.

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