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Tarnishing an Unsound Argument

05.10.15 / John Chen

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.

John Chen

About John Chen

John Chen is Executive Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of BlackBerry. Appointed in November 2013, John led BlackBerry’s turnaround stabilizing the company’s financial position, ensuring its viability, and pivoting its operations from consumer hardware to enterprise software. Today the company takes advantage of the current growth opportunities in IoT and Cybersecurity and is pioneering the convergence of these two markets.

John is a distinguished business leader and proven turnaround executive with over 40 years of engineering and management experience. Prior to joining BlackBerry, John served as Chairman and CEO of Sybase Inc. where he re-invented the company and achieved 55 consecutive quarters of profitability during his 15-year tenure.

Recognized as a thought leader and as a respected voice in foreign policy, John has testified before Congress on U.S.–China trade relations and was appointed by U.S. President George W. Bush to serve on the President's Export Council. In 2006, he was appointed co-chair of the Secure Borders and Open Doors Advisory Committee. Additionally, John chaired the U.S.-China Policy Advisory Roundtable for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), served on the Board of the National Committee on U.S. China Relations since 2012, and has been a member of the Committee of 100 since 1997 and its Chairman from 2009-2011.

John graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). John has an honorary professorship from Shanghai University, and honorary doctorates from San Jose State University, City University of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. John has received awards from the U.S.-Asia Institute, the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, the California-Asia Business Council, and the U.S.-Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation.

John served on the Board of Directors for The Walt Disney Company (2004-2019) and Wells Fargo & Co. (2006-2018) and as a trustee of Caltech (2008-2022). John is an Advisory Board member of the US Chamber China Center. He is also active in the not-for-profit community, and is a board member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, member of CFR, national trustee of The First Tee and Governor of the San Francisco Symphony.