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Trudeau says decision on Huawei’s fate on Canadian 5G expected ‘within coming weeks’ – Global News

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With Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig freed following the release of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei could be the next hurdle in Canada-China relations.

Huawei, which is the world’s largest smartphone provider, has business dealings in Canada and has for years wanted to build a 5G wireless network in the country. Yet the Canadian government has yet to decide if the Chinese telecommunication will be granted permission to work with Canadian networks to create a 5G network.

On Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about why his government hasn’t banned Huawei, and if it plans to.

“We’ve actually seen that many Canadian telecommunications companies, if not all of them, have started to remove Huawei from their networks and are moving forward in ways that don’t involve them as a company,” Trudeau said.

“We continue to weigh and look at the different options, but we will no doubt be making announcements within the comings weeks.”

Huawei has deep connections to the ruling Chinese government, and for some, the decision to bar it should be an easy one.

“Canada should move as quickly as possible to ban Huawei,” said Margaret McCuaig-Johnson, a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Read more:
Canada effectively killing Huawei 5G access through delays, sources suggest

In 2018 Rogers, tapped Ericsson to be their 5G supplier, with Bell and Telus following suit and with Telus adding Nokia to the list. Despite the carriers finding other partners to work with, McCuaig-Johnson thinks it’s important for Canada to unequivocally shut the door on Huawei.

“Our telecommunications carriers need the clarity of policy,” she said.


Click to play video: 'Canada-China relations remain uncertain after Michaels, Meng Wanzhou released'



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Canada-China relations remain uncertain after Michaels, Meng Wanzhou released


Canada-China relations remain uncertain after Michaels, Meng Wanzhou released


Huawei security concerns

A spokesperson for the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry wrote in an emailed statement to Global News that its goal is to ensure “Canadian networks are kept safe and secure” and that the government “will not compromise on matters of national security.”

While it did not specifically name Huawei, the spokesperson noted it “will consider technical and security factors, including advice from our security agencies and consider decisions from our Allies and partners.”

“Our Government has been clear that it will pursue an approach that takes into account important domestic and international considerations, and will make the best decision for Canadians,” read the emailed statement.

Read more:
China continues to deny retaliatory arrests, freed 2 Michaels for health reasons

Canada is a member of the Five Eyes, an intelligence operation between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The other four member countries have all banned Huawei’s 5G infrastructure endeavours.

To David Welch, a professor of politics and global governance at the University of Waterloo, the timing of shutting out Huawei is not as urgent, but he noted that with the relationship being as rocky as it is already, it’s better to move on now than to wait.

“I would be shocked if it were anything other than the decision to walk away from Canada’s 5G rollout in line with our five partners,” Welch said.


Click to play video: '‘Hostage diplomacy’ as Canada and China trade jabs'



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‘Hostage diplomacy’ as Canada and China trade jabs


‘Hostage diplomacy’ as Canada and China trade jabs

With China holding the two Michaels hostage, it was clear to McCuaig-Johnson that the tenuous relationship between the two countries has led to this process being delayed.

“I worked in the government for 37 years. It does not take more than three years to make a decision on something like this,” she said.

The government has been delaying the decision since before the 2019 federal election. In November 2020, Trudeau voted against a Conservative motion calling on his government to announce a decision on the involvement of Chinese tech company Huawei’s role in Canada’s 5G network within 30 days. The motion passed with 179-146 votes.

Read more:
China, Russia exploiting high-tech in ‘hybrid warfare’ costs up to $100B per year in Canada: report

In 2020, following the decisions by the U.S. and the U.K. to ban Huawei, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Safety said the government was “carefully assessing the security challenges and potential threats involved in future 5G technology.”

Outside of the espionage concerns linked to Huawei, McCuaig-Johnson said allowing it to gain 5G infrastructure in Canada right now would ensure that it is lined up to win all the future technology contracts, too. She added that with 5G being so new, there are concerns over how China, operating through Huawei, could manipulate the technology in the future if there was ever another dispute with Canada.

“If a country is willing to take innocent citizens as hostages and keep them for more than two years, then putting a bug into a system or shutting down the electricity grid of part of Canada is certainly something they would consider,” she said.


Click to play video: 'UNGA 2021: Garneau thanks allies after 2 Michaels released from Chinese prison, returned to Canada'



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UNGA 2021: Garneau thanks allies after 2 Michaels released from Chinese prison, returned to Canada


UNGA 2021: Garneau thanks allies after 2 Michaels released from Chinese prison, returned to Canada

With respect to what happened with the Michaels, McCuaig-Johnson thinks now is the time for Canada to stand with their Five Eyes partners against a Chinese government that has tried to show its might.

“We’ve seen more malign intent towards Canada for two and a half years,” said McCuaig-Johnson, noting the trade sanctions implemented by China surrounding beef, pork and soybeans.

One of the red herrings that could show where Chinese investment in Canada is heading is the national security law implemented by the ruling Chinese Community Party in 2017. The law, in effect, allows the government to access information held by Chinese companies, if they are deemed to be in the national interest.

Read more:
2 Michaels are home — but Canada still wary of China, Garneau says

To Welch, the definition of what is in the national interest is not clearly defined, so it’s very possible that extending beyond Huawei, Canada could want less and less Chinese investment.

“I think there will be a higher level of scrutiny,” he said. “I think there will be less willingness to entertain Chinese to invest in Canadian corporations.”

Inquiries made by Global News to the Ministry Public Safety of Canada and Huawei were not answered.

-with files from David Akin 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Factbox-Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch

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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, spent a night in hospital but returned to Windsor Castle on Thursday.

Here are some facts about the 95-year-old queen:

PRINCESS:

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1, on April 21, 1926, and christened on May 29, 1926, in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace.

After her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 for the love of a divorced American woman, the queen’s father, George VI, inherited the throne.

Two years after World War Two, she married navy Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, a Greek prince, whom she had fallen for during a visit to a naval college when she was just 13.

QUEEN

She was just 25 when she became Queen Elizabeth II on Feb. 6, 1952, on the death of her father, while she was on tour in Kenya with Prince Philip.

She was crowned monarch on June 2, 1953, in a ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey that was televised live.

MOTHER AND WIFE

Philip was said to be shattered when his wife became queen so soon.

Her marriage to Philip, whom she wed when she was 21, stayed solid for 74 years until his death in April 2021.

Their children are Charles, born in 1948, Anne, born in 1950, Andrew in 1960 and Edward in 1964.

MONARCH

Winston Churchill was the first of her 14 British prime ministers.

As head of state, the queen remains neutral on political matters. The queen does not vote.

SOVEREIGN

Elizabeth, who acceded to the throne as Britain was shedding its imperial power, has symbolised stability. Her nearly 70-year reign is the longest of any British monarch.

A quiet and uncomplaining dedication to the duty of queenship, even in old age, has earned her widespread respect both in Britain and abroad, even from republicans who are eager for abolition of the monarchy.

OFFICIAL TITLE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

Her Majesty Elizabeth II, By the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

COMMONWEALTH

The Queen is head of state of 15 Commonwealth countries in addition to the United Kingdom. She is also head of the Commonwealth itself, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries.

DIFFICULT TIMES

The 40th anniversary of her accession, in 1992, was a year she famously described as an “annus horribilis” after three of her four children’s marriages failed and there was a fire at her Windsor Castle royal residence.

The death of Princess Diana, the divorced wife of Elizabeth’s son and heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, in 1997, damaged the family’s public prestige.

Charles’ younger son, Harry, and wife Meghan said in an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year that one unidentified royal had made a racist remark about their first-born child. The couple had stepped back from royal duties in early 2020 and moved to the United States.

 

(Writing by Michael Holden and Kate Holton; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Peter Cooney)

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At United Nations, Afghan women appeal: don’t let Taliban in

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A group of  Afghan women urged the United Nations to block the Taliban from gaining a seat at the world body, calling for better representation for their country during a visit to the organisation’s New York headquarters on Thursday.

“It’s very simple,” former Afghan politician and peace negotiator Fawzia Koofi told reporters outside the UN Security Council in New York. “The UN needs to give that seat to somebody who respects the rights of everyone in Afghanistan.”

“We are talked a lot about, but we are not listened to,” she said of Afghan women. “Aid, money, recognition – they are all leverage that the world should use for inclusion, for respect to the rights of women, for respect to the rights of everybody.”

Koofi was joined by former politician, Naheed Fareed, former diplomat Asila Wardak and journalist Anisa Shaheed.

“When the Taliban took Afghanistan … they said that they will give permission to women to resume their jobs, to go back to the school, but they didn’t keep that promise,” said Fareed.

Since seizing power in mid-August, Taliban leaders have vowed to respect women’s rights in accordance with sharia, or Islamic law. But under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, women could not work and girls were banned from school. Women had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative when they left home.

The United Nations is considering rival claims on who should represent Afghanistan. The Taliban nominated their Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as UN ambassador, while Ghulam Isaczai – the UN envoy representing the government ousted by the Taliban – is seeking to remain in the country’s seat.

UN member states are expected to make a decision by the end of the year.

Wardak urged countries to pressure the Taliban “to put their words in action” when it comes to women’s rights, adding: “If you’re going to give them a seat, there should be conditions.”

The women spoke to reporters before addressing a UN event on support for Afghan women and girls, organized by Britain, Qatar, Canada, UN Women and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

The UN Security Council also met separately on Thursday to discuss women, peace and security.

“Women and girls in Afghanistan are pinning their hopes and dreams on this very council and world body to help them recover their rights to work, travel and go to school,” Isaczai told the 15-member council. “It would be morally reprehensible if we do nothing and let them down.”

 

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Karishma Singh)

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U.S. charges 5 people with money laundering in alleged Venezuela bribery scheme

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Five individuals, including a politician from  Venezuela‘s ruling party and an associate of a businessman close to President Nicolas Maduro, have been charged with money laundering in connection with an alleged Venezuela bribery scheme, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

A federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida charged three Colombian nationals and two Venezuelans, the DOJ said in a statement on Thursday.

The indictment alleges that the five laundered the proceeds of a bribery scheme to obtain and retain inflated contracts through a Venezuelan state-run food and medicine distribution program known as CLAP.

The five are: Alvaro Pulido Vargas, 57, of Colombia; Jose Vielma-Mora, 55, of Venezuela; Emmanuel Enrique Rubio Gonzalez, 32, of Colombia; Carlos Rolando Lizcano Manrique, 50, of Colombia; and Ana Guillermo Luis, 49, of Venezuela, the DOJ said.

Pulido Vargas is a long-time business associate of fellow Colombian businessman Alex Saab, who is close to the Venezuelan president and was extradited to the United States over the weekend to face money laundering charges. Pulido Vargas was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury in 2019, and indicted alongside Saab that same year over an alleged money-laundering scheme. Rubio Gonzalez is Pulido Vargas’ son.

The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Saab in 2019, accusing him of being a “profiteer” who enriched himself by skimming from contracts from the CLAP Venezuelan state-run food distribution program.

Vielma-Mora is a long-time Venezuelan ruling party politician who was formerly the governor of the Andean state of Tachira and is now a congressman.

Between 2015 and at least 2020, the five individuals conspired with others to launder the money from bank accounts in Antigua, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere through U.S. bank accounts, the DOJ said.

They received about $1.6 billion from the Republic of Venezuela and transferred about $180 million through or to the United States, the DOJ said.

Representatives of the individuals could not immediately be contacted for comment by Reuters.

If convicted, they each face a maximum total penalty of 100 years in prison, the department said.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Alexandra Ulmer in San Francisco; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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