‘Not good enough’: Meili presses Moe for answers on Huawei

Earlier this week, the Saskatchewan NDP raised concerns regarding SaskTel's involvement with the controversial telecommunications company Huawei. The response from the Sask. Party failed to inspire confidence that they have the situation in hand.

"Saskatchewan people deserve a simple assurance that their information and public investments are secure,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “When the Premier is either unwilling or unable to provide that assurance, that’s a concern.

“With Huawei’s involvement in 5G technology banned in other countries and under review in our own, there are just too many unanswered questions here to expect people to trust that this issue has been adequately addressed."

Earlier this week, the NDP called on Premier Moe to take the following four key steps. Rather than the Premier himself speaking to these concerns, representatives of SaskTel offered a partial response. Today Meili emphasized that it should be Moe who answers for these policy decisions, which were taken in the wake of a 2010 trip to China by then-Premier Wall, rather than leaving SaskTel to defend his government’s decisions.

Meili reviewed the responses to the actions he called for Tuesday:

  1. Place an immediate moratorium on any further contracts between SaskTel and Huawei. Rather than committing to this sensible step, SaskTel appeared to signal continued and possibly expanded Huawei involvement in our 5G infrastructure, which is precisely the area of most concern for allies who have banned such involvement.
  2. Provide the public with a thorough account of all of Huawei’s involvement with SaskTel and of the safeguards in place to protect the Saskatchewan public. SaskTel chose to downplay the level of involvement, and did not acknowledge or describe measures in regards to 5G technology now employed at the University of Regina.
  3. Request an urgent analysis by Canadian Security Intelligence Services of any potential risk for espionage via Huawei’s existing involvement with SaskTel. No response.
  4. Provide an assessment of the cost of ending current contracts with Huawei and removing any technology that poses risk and outlining a process for ending this engagement should that be the wiser course of action. With Huawei involvement in 5G currently under review by the Canadian government, Saskatchewan people need to know how much we are already at risk of losing should Huawei involvement in 5G in Canada no longer be permitted. We are again requesting a tally of the estimated costs for removal of existing Huawei technology, in particular 5G technology, as well as a clear evaluation of liabilities associated with further integration with this company.

“The warnings regarding Huawei's activities raised in recent years, and the Chinese government’s response, are of increasing concern in Canada and around the world,” said NDP SaskTel Critic Warren McCall. “Saskatchewan’s response should be measured and rational, but a measured, rational response requires a clear understanding of exactly what we're dealing with.

“The response to our questions so far fails that test and leaves us with even greater uncertainty than before. Saskatchewan people deserve better.”