For the previous 5 and a half years, the Canada Border Companies Company (CBSA) has been utilizing communications tools and expertise from the controversial Chinese language agency Hytera Communications — an organization the US authorities has banned as a nationwide safety menace.

In response to CBC’s questions about CBSA’s use of Hytera tools and expertise, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino stated he is requested all departments throughout his portfolio to evaluation any procurement contracts linked to Hytera or its subsidiaries within the wake of an issue over an identical RCMP contract with one among Hytera’s subsidiaries.

“I’ve instructed my division to do a portfolio-wide scan and evaluation of every other potential comparable contracts which can have been awarded, in order that we will take no matter steps are essential to mitigate any towards any dangers that will exist,” Mendicino stated Monday.

“That can apply proper throughout all departments, together with the CBSA.”

CBC Information/Radio-Canada has realized that on the Fort Erie Peace Bridge in Niagara Area, CBSA officers are outfitted with radios made by Hytera, a telecommunications firm based mostly in Shenzhen, China. China’s authorities owns about 10 per cent of Hytera by an funding fund.

Hytera merchandise are banned on the market and import in the US. The US Federal Communications Fee (FCC) has blacklisted the corporate for posing “an unacceptable danger to the nationwide safety of the US or the safety and security of United States individuals.”

Hytera is the proprietor of Ontario-based Sinclair Applied sciences. The federal authorities confronted some pointed nationwide safety questions earlier this month when Radio-Canada reported on a contract between Sinclair and the RCMP to produce Mounties with radio frequency (RF) filtering tools.

The RCMP has since suspended the contract and the Mounties say they’re reviewing the RF tools they’ve put in.

In February 2017, Public Companies and Procurement Canada (PSPC) awarded a contract value just below $3 million to Canquest Communications of Chatham, Ont., to supply digital cellular radios and radio communication infrastructure for CBSA within the Niagara Area, which incorporates 4 factors of entry.

A spokesperson for Procurement and Public Companies Canada stated the contract with Canquest didn’t embody any safety necessities.

Canquest labored with Hytera Canada to construct the radio communications infrastructure and bought Hytera radio tools to CBSA.

“Hytera’s Tier III Professional design structure is properly fitted to huge space public security service,” says a 2017 Hytera information launch on the contract.

Canquest’s CEO John Smith instructed the Chatham Voice neighborhood newspaper in 2017 that Hytera’s expertise “gave [Canquest] the sting” in profitable the bid.

“Hytera is a progressive firm,” Smith stated within the article. “They supply the Chinese language police drive with radios. That is extremely versatile expertise.”

Three of the Niagara ports of entry are not utilizing Hytera tools, however the Peace Bridge port of entry nonetheless is and will not transition to new radio tools and a brand new community till March 2023.

The CBSA border crossing on the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie. Border brokers on the Peace Bridge will proceed to make use of Hytera tools till not less than March 2023 after CBSA prolonged a procurement contract. (Greg Bruce/CBC)

Responding to questions from CBC/Radio-Canada, CBSA spokesperson Rebecca Purdy stated the Peace Bridge border crossing hasn’t switched due to technical points that emerged throughout testing of the brand new radio community and tools.

She stated CBSA did its personal safety evaluation of the Hytera tools and expertise.

“On the time the contract was put in place in 2017, CBSA was conscious that Canquest, a Canadian firm, was a reseller of Hytera tools,” she stated in an e mail assertion.

“CBSA takes communications safety severely and has formal processes in place to evaluate communications safety and mitigate danger. Thus far, these formal processes haven’t recognized any dangers to be mitigated for the Peace Bridge facility.”

CBSA didn’t present solutions to CBC/Radio-Canada’s follow-up questions on the character of that safety evaluation by the point this story was revealed.

Smith referred CBC/Radio Canada to CBSA for remark. Hytera Canada has not responded to CBC/Radio-Canada’s request for remark.

Shortly after CBC/Radio-Canada despatched inquiries to CBSA, Alexander Cohen, Mendicino’s press secretary, despatched an e mail assertion.

“We are able to affirm that the Canada Border Companies Company’s contract with Canquest Communications will expire within the close to future, and that the Company will change its tools with expertise from one other vendor,” Cohen stated within the assertion.

A spokesperson for the Communications Safety Institution (CSE), Canada’s indicators intelligence company, stated CSE was by no means requested to do a safety evaluation of the tools or contract.

Hytera is going through 21 espionage-related fees in the US. The U.S. Division of Justice has accused the corporate of conspiring to steal expertise from the American telecommunications agency Motorola.

Public contracts with Chinese language firm underneath scrutiny

Controversy over Hytera’s position in Canada’s safety infrastructure comes at a time of heightened tensions between Canada and China. The federal authorities’s Indo-Pacific Technique, launched earlier this 12 months, requires a extra aggressive Canadian overseas coverage towards Beijing. China’s authorities has condemned the technique.

Overseas Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly stated earlier this month that the RCMP’s contract with Sinclair is inconsistent with the federal government’s method to China outlined within the Indo-Pacific Technique.

The Home of Commons standing committee on business and expertise lately known as Mendicino to seem earlier than the committee to reply questions concerning the RCMP contract with Sinclair.

The committee can be trying to query François-Philippe Champagne, the minister of innovation, science and business.

Some committee members expressed curiosity in asking Champagne about why Hytera was in a position to buy Norsat Worldwide — Sinclair’s father or mother firm — in 2017 with out a authorities nationwide safety evaluation of the transaction.

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Minister of Innovation, Science and Business François-Philippe Champagne and Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino maintain a press convention in Ottawa on Could 19, 2022. A Home of Commons committee is trying to query each ministers concerning the impact of Chinese language expertise and tools on Canada’s nationwide safety. (David Kawai/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has responded to criticism of the RCMP’s Sinclair contract by saying the civil service was chargeable for it and pledging modifications to public procurement.

“Completely, we will be discovering out to begin with what must be finished to make sure that our communications expertise is safe, but in addition ensure that we’re determining how this might proceed to occur and be sure that Canada shouldn’t be signing contracts with the bottom bidder that then flip round and depart us uncovered to safety flaws,” Trudeau stated earlier this month.

“We may have some actual questions for the unbiased public service that signed these contracts, and we’ll be sure that that is modified going ahead. It is excessive time that occurs.”

The federal authorities banned the Chinese language telecommunications firm Huawei from Canada’s 5G infrastructure earlier this 12 months. Huawei is among the many Chinese language firms the FCC has banned.

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