TORONTO - The Ontario Tories are calling on the McGuinty government to review a $6.5-million provincial grant to a Chinese-owned company deemed a national security threat by the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.
Tory MPP Monte McNaughton said his party is sending a letter to Ontario Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid asking that he investigate the company and the taxpayer-funded grant.
“This is extremely concerning for Ontario and for the country,” McNaughton said Tuesday.
The province’s New Democrats are also raising questions about the grant.
McGuinty said the province relies on the federal government and police in Canada to identify any international security concerns.
The grant to Huawei, based in Markham, has meant an employment boost for the province, Premier Dalton McGuinty said.
The company does business with major, reputable telecommunications firms, he said.
“A few years ago, I met with Huawei representatives in China,” said McGuinty, who’s planning another trade mission to China. “We secured an expansion of an existing investment in Ontario that’s created, I think, a few hundred jobs — those jobs are very important to us.
“If at some point in time, authorities within the federal government believe that they have real concerns, then I expect that they will raise those with us,” he said.
McGuinty noted Italian authorities recently raised red flags over possible mafia activities in Ontario, and now the Americans are weighing in on the Chinese company.
“And it’s nice that the world has advice to offer Canada with respect to domestic issues, but ultimately we’ve got to rely on Canadian authorities informed by Canadian values in order to make good Canadian issues,” he said.
Then Ontario economic development minister Sandra Pupatello announced in January 2011 that the province would partner with Huawei.
Pupatello said in a news release issued at the time that Huawei was investing a $67 million to expand the company’s Ottawa research-and-development centre, which would “help create 164 new, good jobs and support 56 existing jobs in the Ottawa region.”
A Huawei news release, issued when McGuinty visited the company last October, said the firm had received a Strategic Jobs Investment Fund grant the previous year.
“Since receiving the grant, Huawei Canada has already hired over 100 people, and spent almost $17 million in R&D. Huawei’s R&D facility in Kanata, Ont., has grown to 120 researchers and engineers, with plans to double in size over the next several years,” the release said.