Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday expressed dismay as he vowed to review a contract awarded to a Beijing-linked firm to supply and maintain federal police radio equipment.
The half-million dollar contract for a radio frequency filtering system to prevent eavesdropping went to Canada’s Sinclair Technologies, which is controlled by China’s Hytera Communications.
The Shenzen-based company is partly owned by the Chinese government and blacklisted by the United States — raising concerns about potential Chinese access to Royal Canadian Mounted Police communications.
“I find it disconcerting,” Trudeau told a news conference on the sidelines of a biodiversity conference in Montreal co-hosted by Canada and China.
He noted that while Canadian security agencies have warned about “foreign interference in our institutions and our structures,” here officials are “signing contracts that have questionable levels of security for our operations and our national security institutions like the RCMP.”
“We’re going to be following up on this,” he vowed, promising to ensure that communications technology used by the government and its agencies is secure.
The government must also “make sure that Canada is not signing contracts with the lowest bidder that then turn around and leave us exposed to security flaws,” he said.
The US Federal Communications Commission banned Hytera in 2021, saying it was among several Chinese firms that pose a national security risk. Huawei is on the same US list, and has been banned by Canada too.
Hytera also faces accusations — which it denies — of conspiring to steal trade secrets from US telecommunications company Motorola Solutions.
Federal procurement officials told public broadcaster Radio-Canada, which first raised the issue, that national security hadn’t factored in its decision to award the contract, while the RCMP said it was confident the system, which was already being installed, would remain secure.