Innovation minister mum on whether Canada will mirror U.K. with partial Huawei 5G ban

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains isn’t saying whether Canada will look to follow the U.K.’s decision to allow Huawei into non-core parts of its 5G networks.

Officials in the U.K. announced on Tuesday morning that they will allow the Chinese telecom giant to build some parts of their new spectrum but would bar it from working on “sensitive parts” of the infrastructure network. That comes despite warnings from the U.S. that the Chinese firm poses a spying risk and that it might not share intelligence with countries that decide to use its equipment in their development of 5G networks.

Canada is now the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that has not made up its mind on whether to use Huawei in 5G development and Bains offered no insight when pressed by reporters on Tuesday as to when that decision — in the works for more than a year — could come.

“We have not made a determination at this moment,” said Bains, who was then asked why it was taking so long to make the decision.

“We’re just being very thoughtful and very deliberate. We want to do our appropriate due diligence to make a decision that is in the best interests of Canadians, and we want to make sure that we go about it in the appropriate manner.”

The federal government launched a review in fall 2018 into whether Huawei poses a security risk.

But it has repeatedly delayed its timeline for announcing the results of that review, initially saying in May of last year it would come before the fall election but then in July 2019 saying the decision would not be made until after the election.

Since October though, there has been no indication of where the government is at and when a decision will come.

Bains said on Tuesday that the government is continuing to talk with its allies to understand the positions they are taking but would not say whether the U.K.’s path was one the Liberal government is considering.

“They’re an ally, and we’re engaged with them. We’re speaking with them, so of course we’re looking at what decisions they’ve made and how they plan to implement those decisions,” he said.

“But we’re not going to make a decision based on one particular jurisdiction, we’re going to look at what’s in Canadians interests.”

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