National security experts are warning that Canadian businesses struggling with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic — and what comes after — could be easy prey for hostile foreign takeovers.

And there are growing calls for the federal government to come up with a plan to protect companies vital to the Canadian national interest from being acquired by firms tied to authoritarian regimes, including those in the medical supply industry, energy and critical infrastructure.

“We can’t split the economy away from national security,” said Stephanie Carvin, a national security expert and assistant professor of international relations at the Norman Patterson School of Public Affairs at Carleton University.

“This is what we’re seeing with Huawei right now but Huawei isn’t the end — Huawei is the beginning. This is going to be possibly one of the biggest national security challenges that Canada faces for the next decade is trying to figure out how to manage these geo-economic threats.”

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Huawei, the Chinese tech giant, is currently fighting to be allowed to build parts of the Canadian 5G telecom network. While the federal government is reviewing potential security risks from that,