Business Canada China National Security Politics

Commons committee to question ministers on RCMP contract with China-linked company

A House of Commons committee will look for answers from two government ministers regarding an RCMP contract with a company linked to the Chinese government, and why the company’s purchase in 2017 was not subject to a national security review.

Radio-Canada reported last week on a contract between the Mounties and Sinclair Technologies for radio frequency filtering equipment. While Sinclair is based in Ontario, its parent company Norsat International was acquired by the Chinese telecommunications company Hytera in 2017.

The Chinese government owns around 10 per cent of Hytera through an investment fund. The United States government banned the sale and import of Hytera products earlier this year because of national security concerns.

The House of Commons standing committee on industry and technology voted Monday to summon Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, the minister responsible for the RCMP, to answer questions about the contract.

Rick Perkins, a Conservative member of Parliament on the committee, said the committee should find out why the contract was approved. 

“The committee needs to examine why the RCMP, our senior law enforcement agency in Canada, was not advised by the minister of industry, the minister of public safety and the minister of procurement to not utilize these Communist Party of China-controlled companies for their needs,” he said.

While Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne was not involved in the procurement contract, he is responsible for the Investment Canada Act. 

Committee members expressed interest in asking Champagne why the government did not review Hytera’s acquisition of Norsat under the act. The law authorizes the minister of industry to order a review of an investment by a non-Canadian company if the minister has reason to believe the investment threatens Canadian national security.

“Why did this government not do a full security review and reject the takeover of a Canadians telecommunications company by a state-owned enterprise of the government of China? This committee, and the public, needs to know that,” Perkins said.

Sébastien Lemire, a Bloc Québécois member of the committee, agreed that the committee should question the ministers.

“This is a rather complex situation that’s making many of us uncomfortable,” Lemire said of the RCMP contract.

“I think we all understand that we need to get to the bottom of this and understand what happened.”

Committee members voted overwhelmingly to request that Mendicino and Champagne appear as soon as possible.

Both ministers said last week that the contract should be reviewed.

American ambassador pleased with Canadian response

In an interview with CBC Radio’s The House last week, United States Ambassador to Canada David Cohen called the suspension of the contract “the right step.”

“You can’t ask for more definitive and more decisive action than what Canada took in reaction to that news,” Cohen told host Catherine Cullen.

Cohen also praised the federal government’s approach to Canada-China relations, outlined in its new Indo-Pacific Strategy. Cohen said the strategy, which includes a plan to address China’s growing global power, puts Canada’s policy on Beijing in alignment with that of the United States.

“I don’t think anyone can question the firmness with which Canada has reacted to to the current China threat,” Cohen said.

“Some people have called it a pivot, and I think that’s fair, because I think Canada is not behaving toward China in the way in which it has historically behaved toward China.”

Source : CBC