China’s meddling inside Canada must stop

The Chinese state is sending covert agents into Canada to intimidate Canadians. But the federal Liberal government is doing next to nothing to stop it.

Chinese tech giant Huawei is itching to get its fingers on Canada’s 5G wireless networks. But the federal government refuses to say it can’t — despite the undeniable risks such a partnership would carry for national security.

It is past time for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to stand up to the bullies in Beijing and the threats they pose to Canada. And if it takes a firm push from the opposition parties in the House of Commons to make them show some backbone, so be it.

Led by the Conservatives, the opposition parties passed a motion Wednesday calling on the Liberal government to do two things within the next 30 days to protect Canada and Canadians from this increasingly aggressive superpower.

First, the Liberals are supposed to announce how they’ll prevent China from sending its operatives to this country to harass and threaten Canadians. While this outrageous and frightening behaviour has been long known, it acquired new urgency last week when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spoke up to denounce it.

According to CSIS, undercover Chinese state security officials and others routinely attempt to silence China’s critics in Canada by using tactics that include threats of retribution against people’s families in China.

That assessment was consistent with an Amnesty International report earlier this year that said Hong Kong Canadians, Tibetan Canadians and Uighur Canadians are all being targeted by China. And it said Ottawa’s response to the rising number of complaints about China’s bullying of Canadians was ineffective.

The second part of the opposition parties’ motion is just as crucial to Canada’s future. It says the Liberals must finally announce whether equipment made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co. will be allowed in Canada’s 5G wireless network.

To be fair to the Liberals, China is a formidable opponent. It has illegally and immorally jailed Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor for the past 711 days in blatant retaliation for Canada’s entirely legal house arrest of a Huawei executive facing charges in the U.S. It blocked exports of Canadian canola, pork and beef, too, in an effort to bend Canada to its will. For Canada to take it on is like a featherweight jumping into the ring with a super-heavyweight.

But Canada does have friends to stand beside it and show it a way forward. The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States — our Five Eyes intelligence allies — have all blocked Huawei from being part of their 5G wireless networks. In addition, Australia recently took effective action to stop the Chinese state from harassing people in Australia.

Canada can do the same — and remain secure. Although the opposition motion passed in Ottawa this week is not binding on the government, the Liberals should take it seriously. The opposition parties speak for a majority of Canadians, many of whom are convinced Canada must face down the Chinese bully.

No country that calls itself sovereign should tolerate the way China is interfering within Canadian borders. No country that values the rights and well-being of its citizens should refuse to defend them.