Hard for Canada to follow U.K.'s Huawei approval: Former CSIS director
A former head of Canada’s intelligence agency said the country would be wise to not let products from Huawei Technologies Co. into its upcoming 5G network rollout, even partially, despite Britain having just done so.
“China is, at the end of the day, not a friend,” Ward Elcock, former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told BNN Bloomberg’s Amanda Lang on Tuesday.
“It’s a trading partner, but not a friend. And it is our major counterintelligence target. Why would you bring your major counterintelligence target inside the tent?” Elcock said.
He added that compared with the United Kingdom, Canada’s counterintelligence capabilities are not as robust, and its security is more closely tied to the U.S.
“The British, they’re a bigger player than we are in the intelligence business. Not that we’re negligible, but they’re a bigger player. They have more, if you will, bargaining clout in dealing with the Americans,” he said.
“They’re connected to the Americans and they will have the same worries about information flowing in their systems, but we’re interconnected with the Americans.”
He cautioned, however, that keeping Huawei out of future Canadian telecom networks would not mean intelligence threats against the country will cease.
“The struggle against other intelligence agencies targeting Canada will never end. The reality of the current world is that intelligence agencies set out to exist on networks. They set out to exist on the internet. If they do that, then their capacity to target us is even more effective,” Elcock said.
“If they’re on the outside of the tent, you at least still have a struggle ahead of you. Once they’re inside the tent, it’s pretty hard to stop them from doing whatever they want.”