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5G Divide: As decision looms, there’s little Canadian consensus over Huawei’s role in network buildout

As its Five Eyes allies choose sides in the Huawei 5G debate, the Canadian government has yet to make a decision.

Now, the latest study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canadian public opinion offering little guidance in terms of which way to lean.

While a slight majority (56%) favour following the U.S., Australia and New Zealand in banning any participation from Chinese telecom giant Huawei in building the nation’s next generation wireless network, one-in-three (34%) would support a limited arrangement like the one recently approved by the United Kingdom. The rest, (10%) favour having Huawei build the entire 5G infrastructure.

Opinion is driven in part by political preference, with a majority of past Conservative voters inclined to block Huawei altogether, and those on the left side of the political spectrum – particularly in Quebec – more open to allowing the company in.

Of course, preventing a global leader in 5G technology may have an impact beyond the quality and cost of the network. Sino-Canadian relations have been strained by an ongoing diplomatic dispute involving senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested by Canadian officials in December 2018 and is currently at trial. In retaliation, two Canadians were arrested and have yet to be released.

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