The Canadian government has said that it will be invoking a "national security exemption" as it hires firms to build a secure network, hinting that Chinese telco Huawei could be excluded.
The exemption allows the government to kick out of the running any companies or nations considered a security risk, which coming in the wake of the US report earlier this week labelling Huawei and ZTE as security threats, strongly indicates they're out of the bidding.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's top media spokesman refused to say for sure whether the government had Huawei in mind when invoking the exemption.
"The government is going to be choosing carefully in the construction of this network and it has invoked the national security exception for the building of this network," he said, according to the Calgary Herald.
I’m not going to comment on any one company in particular,” he told a news conference. “I’ll leave it to you if you think Huawei should be a part of the Canadian government security system."
The US Intelligence Committee released a report on Monday that claimed that both Huawei and ZTE were security risks and American companies should look elsewhere for networking equipment. The committee alleges that either firm could allow their gear to be used by the Chinese government for cyber espionage.
Both ZTE and Huawei have vigorously denied the allegations, claiming that their government has never asked them to do anything untoward and if it did, they would refuse.
Huawei has a strong foothold in Canada after winning a contract in 2008 to build networks for domestic operators Telus and Bell Canada. ®