Trudeau Keeps Freeland On, Says Huawei 5G Decision Due Soon
(Bloomberg) -- Justin Trudeau sketched out a post-election agenda after being denied a parliamentary majority, signaling Canada will soon make a decision on Huawei Technologies Co.’s access to next-generation wireless networks.
The Canadian leader, whose Liberals were returned to power with another minority in the Sept. 20 vote, said Tuesday that Chrystia Freeland will stay on as finance minister and deputy prime minister. A new cabinet will be sworn in next month and the legislature will reconvene by the end of autumn, he said.
Trudeau said implementing the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for civil servants and workers in federally-regulated industries, a policy announced before the election, is a priority for the government. He also mentioned getting more provinces to sign on to his plan for a national childcare program and further action on climate change ahead of a key United Nations conference in November.
But now that China has released two Canadians it snatched up after the 2018 arrest of a top Huawei executive on a U.S. extradition request, Trudeau said his government is nearing a long-delayed decision on the state-championed Chinese telecom firm’s access the 5G build-out in Canada.
“Many Canadian telecommunications companies -- if not all of them -- have started to remove Huawei from their networks and are moving forward in ways that doesn’t involve them,” the prime minister said. “We continue to weigh and look at the different options, but we will be no doubt making announcements in the coming weeks.”
Trudeau called the snap election hoping to parlay his handling of the coronavirus pandemic into full control of the House of Commons. But the Liberals gained just two seats from their 2019 result after opposition parties portrayed the prime minister’s move as an unnecessary power grab.
Three cabinet ministers were defeated in the vote, all women, which will factor into the feminist prime minister’s thinking in finalizing his new ministerial lineup.
“I will be seeking -- as I always do -- to ensure that there is a proper regional distribution,” Trudeau said. “But it is a base starting point that we have gender parity in any cabinet.”
His decision to leave Freeland in charge at finance suggests the Liberals will press ahead with their plans to keep spending through Canada’s recovery from the Covid crisis.
Trudeau’s last budget included C$140 billion ($110 billion) in additional measures over the next five years, and the country recorded a record-smashing deficit of more than C$300 billion in the fiscal year ended March 31 because of generous pandemic support programs. During the campaign, the Liberals made an additional C$78 billion in spending promises.
But the prime minister also signaled that he has little desire to trigger another election any time soon. “I am intending to govern as long as parliament gives us confidence to do so,” Trudeau said, adding he was hopeful he’d be able to make this mandate last a full four years.
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