The Conservatives are distancing themselves from former public safety and international trade minister Stockwell Day, who took to Twitter on July 23 to praise the father of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
“Met with Huawei founder/CEO Ren Zhengfei at their HQ in Shenzen,” Day wrote. “A story that should be heard: As a small start-up years ago took on large state owned China companies and survived. Now almost 200,000 employees in about 160 countries, including Canada. Already doing 5G in many.”
Leader Andrew Scheer’s associate director of communications Simon Jeffries told theBreaker.news that the party has no comment on Day’s Tweet and that his involvement in any local Conservative campaign is as a “personal volunteer.”
“Mr. Scheer has made his views as leader of the Conservative Party on Huawei clear,” Jeffries said by email.
Meng is living on strict bail conditions in a Vancouver mansion while fighting extradition to the U.S. where she is wanted on fraud charges. Since her December arrest at Vancouver International Airport, China retaliated by jailing Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and stopped buying Canola and meat. On Twitter, Day claimed that he asked Ren about Spavor and Kovrig. “Top of agenda,” he wrote.
Scheer vowed to ban Huawei from building Canada’s 5G network if the Conservatives form government after October’s election. U.S., Australia and New Zealand have already banned Huawei over national security fears. The Trudeau Liberals delayed a decision until after the election.
“We looked the other way as the allure of China’s market was too powerful to ignore,” Scheer said during a May 7 foreign policy speech in Montreal. “However, so long as China is willing to hold our exports hostage, all while committing human rights violations, we have no choice as Canadians but to consider other trade partners.”
Former Conservative MP Day is on the executive board of the Canada China Business Council and a member of the board of directors of Telus, a Huawei customer and partner in a research and development lab. He was scheduled to appear at an evening event in support of Vancouver South Conservative candidate Wai Young on July 23.
On July 22, Washington Post reported that Huawei secretly worked on North Korea’s 3G network. Radio Praha reported the same day that Huawei client information was discussed at the Chinese embassy in the Czech Republic.
At an Ottawa event to promote Huawei’s work on a 4G network in Northern Canada, vice-president Alykhan Velshi, a former aide to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, tried to downplay security concerns about the company’s Canadian offices: “This perception that it’s sort of Dr. Evil’s lair and we’re toiling away at the latest world-ending scheme is false.”
One-term MP Young is trying to regain the Vancouver South seat from Liberal defence minister Harjit Sajjan, who won in 2015. She took to the Chinese social media platform WeChat to promote the July 23 event with Day at the Fraserview Hall “to discuss how a change in Ottawa will restore business confidence and rebuild our international trade.”
Young finished fourth in the Vancouver 2018 mayoral election with her Coalition Vancouver party. Supporters included allies of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front foreign influence campaign, such as Chen Yongtao of the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations and the Wenzhou Friendship Society. Chen attended Chinese government meetings earlier this year as a guest delegate. The Wenzhou Friendship Society was accused of vote-buying for offering a $20 transportation subsidy to encourage WeChat members to vote for a slate of endorsed candidates in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby. No charges were laid.
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