Tarnishing an Unsound Argument


Shafiq Qaadri is wrong on so many levels.

The Member of Provincial Parliament had the floor at Ontario’s Legislative Assembly last week when he recited an diatribe against BlackBerry and used offensive words that have no place in modern discourse.

I join the many, many people across Canada calling on him to apologize and explain why he chose to use derogatory references to people with disabilities in a petition ostensibly about technology. We are dismayed‎ by Mr. Qaadri’s behavior that reflects poorly on all of Canada – and especially to Canadians with disabilities who are incredible contributors to the nation.

Sadly, however, Mr. Qaadri also failed on the merits of his argument, which was insulting to BlackBerry.

Let’s start with the technological reasons the Legislative Assembly chooses to spend public dollars to equip its elected officials and staff with BlackBerry mobility solutions.

Quite simply, BlackBerry is the most secure system for protecting individual security and privacy. That’s why all G7 governments and 16 of the G20 governments are BlackBerry customers. BlackBerry has more than 70 security approvals and certificates – more than any other mobile solution. BlackBerry customers also include 10 out of 10 of the largest global banks and global law firms, and the top five largest managed healthcare, investment services, and oil and gas companies.

So the provincial government of Ontario is in good company, knowing that the people tasked with doing the people’s business can do so effectively, securely and reliably. It’s also sending a strong message to its Ontario constituents – thousands of whom are employed by BlackBerry.

Many of the dollars spent with BlackBerry go right back into the local and national economy. BlackBerry spends more on research and development than any other Ontario company. The $1.3 billion we spend annually also makes us one of the largest R&D spenders in all of Canada. Some 90% of BlackBerry’s research engagements are with Canadian universities and we hire more than 1,000 co-op students from local institutions every year.

As an Ontario-headquartered company, BlackBerry pays corporate taxes in Ontario on revenue generated from sales worldwide, not just in Ontario. Among many other things, we help support the operations of the Legislative Assembly – and that includes Mr. Qaadri’s salary.

Like many other Canadians, we are disappointed that Mr. Qaadri made a terrible public policy argument with words that were even worse.

About John Chen

John is a distinguished and proven leader in the technology industry. Prior to becoming Executive Chairman and CEO of BlackBerry in 2013, John was Chairman and CEO of Sybase Inc., which he re-invented, led to 55 consecutive quarters of profitability, and eventually sold for $5.8 billion. John has also been an executive at Siemens Nixdorf, Pyramid Technology, and Unisys. He is currently a board member at Wells Fargo and Company, Walt Disney Company, and various academic institutions and philanthropic enterprises.

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