The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is shown on May 19, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is shown on May 19, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Canada’s Public Health Agency ordered to hand over documents on two fired scientists

PHAC president Iain Stewart has refused to explain to the committee why the pair were fired

A House of Commons committee is ordering the Public Health Agency of Canada to turn over all documents related to the firing of two scientists from Canada’s highest-security laboratory.

The Canada-China relations committee is also ordering PHAC to hand over documents related to a transfer of Ebola and Henipah viruses to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The committee is giving PHAC 20 days to turn over the documents in an unredacted form, after which committee members will meet behind closed doors with the parliamentary law clerk to determine what can be made public without compromising national security or revealing the details of an ongoing RCMP investigation.

PHAC president Iain Stewart has refused to explain to the committee why Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, were fired in January, 18 months after being escorted from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

Qiu was responsible for a shipment of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2019 but PHAC has said that had nothing to do with her subsequent escorted exit from the lab four months later.

Iain Stewart sent the committee a letter last week saying that the Privacy Act does not allow him to share “employment or labour-relations matters concerning public servants.”

The Canadian Press

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