Mr. Speaker, before I begin on the issues of this opposition day motion today, I just want to take the opportunity to thank the constituents of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner for their overwhelming support that returned me to the House. My thanks to the many volunteers who worked on my campaign. I hope I will do justice in Ottawa for them and the Conservative team. I want to thank my friends and family as well for their continued support.
Before I get into the issues I wanted to make you aware, Mr. Speaker, that I will be sharing my time today with my friend the member for Wellington—Halton Hills.
I rise today to address the motion put before the House, a motion that is timely and one that I wholeheartedly support. That is the matter of China.
This is an issue that has been mismanaged by the Prime Minister and the entire Liberal government to date. While all international issues are complex, and there are certainly deep connections in our industries to China as suppliers, manufacturers, consumers and more, there are principles and values that should always be respected.
All members of this House have taken an oath to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians. We cannot ensure that safety and security if we ignore our duties and defer difficult choices. It is for that reason, and for the fact that the Liberal government has completely failed to act or lay out any strategy, that the Conservatives have brought forward a motion for the House, not the Prime Minister but the House, to determine the truth and way forward on Huawei, on China and on ensuring that Canada can stand up for its values and its rights.
The evidence on why there is a security threat from China is public and available for all Canadians and parliamentarians to understand. The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security heard from experts on threats facing Canada. To quote Ray Boisvert, the former assistant director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, on whether there is a threat from China, he said:
There's also the issue that China is now in the age of self-admitted “sharp power”, and they exercise that power with very little reservation anymore. There's no longer even a question of hiding their intentions. They are taking a very aggressive approach around resources and intellectual property, and they also are very clear in dealing with dissidents and academics. They've arrested some of them, and they punish others, including academic institutions in North America, at their will, so I think there's a value challenge that Canadians have to consider along with the economic opportunities discussion.
The “sharp power” that Mr. Boisvert referred to has been reported in the news and highlighted in a number of articles. For example, Beijing has openly organized pro-Communist regime protesters in Canada. One such protest was led by a former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister, whom CSIS had raised concerns about given his close ties to China.
China has created pro-Communist regime lobby groups like the Canadian Chinese Political Affairs Committee, which publishes pro-China and pro-Huawei articles, suggesting that there was a wave of anti-China hate crimes and that Chinese Canadians were living in fear. These claims were made with the support and direction of the Chinese Consulate General in Toronto.
These are not the actions of friends or allies, but rather raise serious concerns about the intent and trust between our countries. Not only are they working to undermine the truth and publishing falsehoods in our newspapers, but we know that Communist China has state-sponsored actors actively working to undermine Canadian economic interests.
In 2013, the former Nortel campus was taken over by the Department of National Defence. There were numerous delays in moving to the new location, no doubt hampered by the discovery of listening devices throughout the building.
Nortel was studied by cybersecurity experts who directly linked the demise of Canada's largest technology company, Nortel, to state-sponsored attacks to steal intellectual property. This information was used by foreign competitors to undercut Nortel, and investigators into cyber-attacks on the firm pointed the finger directly back to Huawei, the same firm now wanting to profit from and build our mobile telecommunication networks.
China has also been linked to the theft of our research discoveries and to pressure tactics on Canadian university researchers.
Through researchers sent by China, as well as through funding agreements, China can exert pressure on Canadian academics, steal research and direct more opportunities back into its own institutions.
In 2019, Huawei funded $56 million in academic research here in Canada. This prompted a direct warning from CSIS that there was a serious security concern over this partnership and the theft of research and intellectual property. As far as I know, there are still no guidelines from the federal government on how those research agreements with Huawei and the Chinese Communist government organizations should be managed.
It does raise the question, though, that if our national security and intelligence service can be concerned about research agreements, surely the infrastructure that will carry sensitive commercial, economic and social information for the next 20 years is even more critical to protect.
Why has the Liberal government not been able to come to a decision in the last four years? Is the theft of research at academic institutions more sensitive than the daily banking information, phone calls, text messages, emails and more that travel through our work and personal telecommunications infrastructure on a daily basis?
Are we willing to trust that the Communist regime in China will not attempt to do what it has done for decades, to use technology and cyber-espionage to benefit its own companies and the state?
It was not China's repeated violations of Canada that disrupted our relationship with the Communist regime. Canada's relationship with China had been declining for many years, not just because of the threats they issue on our soil to Chinese-born Canadians with family back home or China's outright attacks on Canada through cyber-based espionage, but through its open threats toward Canada's economic interests, our social systems and the human rights and values our country cherishes.
Former Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye warned Canada to “stop the moves that undermine the interests of China.” He suggested that the arrest and detention of Huawei's CFO in Vancouver was backstabbing a friend, and warned of repercussions if the federal government banned Huawei.
I have to say China's Communist regime certainly does not act like a friend. It steals from us, abuses us, threatens Canadians and detains our citizens in that country. That is not how our friends act.
What kind of repercussions could China exact on us? How about what China has already done, namely blocking canola by two of our largest producers, Richardson International and Viterra, with false claims of pests, and blocking exports of soybeans, peas, pork and beef? The economic value of our agriculture exports to China is in excess of $5 billion. Clearly, China knows that it can hurt Canada.
Our response to date has been almost nothing. Farmers are losing their homes, some are selling their farms and some are taking their lives. The response from the government is nothing.
There is endless evidence of the threat that the Communist Chinese government poses to Canada by exerting its “sharp power” and overt attempts to hurt our economy, to push us to accept its way of doing things without question. We would be fools to accept the Chinese government's abuse in the hopes that it might one day turn into a good relationship.
The proposal to strike a new committee would allow all parties in this House to work together, something I know the Liberal Prime Minister wants because he said so in his Speech from the Throne. He said that Canadians were expecting this of us in the House.
Now it is time for the Liberals to put their words into action. Striking a special committee would let us look at all aspects of the issues. Economic, diplomatic, legal and security issues would otherwise span many committees. We cannot allow another year to go by without action and a plan for Canada to deal with these issues.
I urge all members of the House to support the creation of a special committee and to establish it quickly so that we can get to work and address the long-standing issues between our two countries.