Evidence of meeting #29 for Canada-China Relations in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was documents.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Guillaume Poliquin  Acting Vice-President, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada
Iain Stewart  President, Public Health Agency of Canada

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you, Mr. Genuis.

8:10 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

—involved in genocide? You haven't answered.

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Mr. Genuis, I'm sorry. Your time is up.

We're now going on to Mr. Fragiskatos, for six minutes.

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Chair, thank you very much.

Perhaps I could go back to Dr. Poliquin.

Dr. Poliquin, can you speak more about the collaboration aspect of the lab and the work that's done between researchers? Is it the case that collaborations form between researchers at the lab and one other country, or is it the case that collaborations happen with researchers from across the world?

8:10 p.m.

Acting Vice-President, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada

Dr. Guillaume Poliquin

Mr. Chair and honourable member, thank you for the question.

Research collaboration occurs on a number of different levels. It could be at the level of individual researchers collaborating on a particular project or a particular question, and there are broader overarching collaborations.

To be clear, the National Microbiology Laboratory has never had an institutional-level collaboration with the Chinese military. As has been highlighted, there are a number of publications where there has been overlap of research interests, but that is not equivalent.

The research endeavour of the laboratory is always to collaborate, to advance public health for Canadians, but also to advance public health on a global scale since we have seen that as infections arise in other places they can readily spread and reshape our societies. Therefore, we are all stronger through collaboration.

8:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Mr. Fragiskatos, please raise your mike a bit. Thank you.

June 14th, 2021 / 8:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Chair, it will soon be at eye level, but whatever is needed.... It's no problem. I'll hold it up here. I'm not sure what the issue is.

Dr. Poliquin, thank you for that.

This has been touched on, but I want to be direct about it. Forgive me; maybe a direct answer has been provided already.

It's about research itself. How is it being kept safe and secure? What can you share about the rigorous protocols around that and how seriously that is taken at the laboratory?

Again, I've been getting up and getting some water, coming back and forth, things like that, so if it has been put on the record already, my apologies. However, so far, I haven't heard a direct answer on that, so it would be helpful.

8:10 p.m.

Acting Vice-President, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada

Dr. Guillaume Poliquin

Some of the protocols that are in place are sensitive by their nature, and therefore, I'm not at liberty to necessarily disclose them in detail. What I can say is that we look at security through a number of lenses. That includes physical security, it includes human security, it includes biological security and it includes informatic security. All of those are overseen and reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that they are fit for purpose and that they are meeting the needs of the evolving environment.

That process has been assembled under what we term our science excellence initiative, which includes other aspects, but security is one of the core aspects of that initiative and it is work that is ongoing since the work is never done in this space.

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Thank you very much.

Again, on this issue of security, are you in a position to share with the committee anything on the extent to which the laboratory collaborates with other laboratories and other democracies in terms of security, best practices and keeping up to date? How does that dynamic play out?

8:15 p.m.

Acting Vice-President, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada

Dr. Guillaume Poliquin

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

There's a number of.... Collaboration, as we mentioned, is an essential part of it. That includes the sharing of best practice, and is essentially a communicative practice in many ways, particularly when we think about the high containment laboratories. We have regular dialogue with our counterparts, including through a number of enshrined initiatives, such as the global health security action group laboratory network which meets on a regular basis to discuss issues of pertinence, including security.

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Do I have time remaining here?

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

One minute.

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fragiskatos Liberal London North Centre, ON

Okay. I thought I had five, so thank you very much for that.

You split security into various categories. I wonder if you could repeat those. I know I haven't given you enough time to provide more information on what each amounts to, but I guess if I'm going to be fair to you, the importance of that classification of security not seen.... You talked about human security. You gave other examples too. Could you elaborate on that?

8:15 p.m.

Acting Vice-President, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada

Dr. Guillaume Poliquin

Security is a multifaceted aspect of our work and we take it seriously across the spectrum of questions. That starts with physical security, which is the securing of buildings and assets, including biological security, our ability to care for and be responsible with the pathogens with which we're entrusted, including computer security, IT security, a number of different aspects.

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Fragiskatos.

I will now give Mr. Brunelle-Duceppe the floor for six minutes.

8:15 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister, I paid close attention to your last exchange with Mr. Genuis and a question came to my mind. Given that this is the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations and you are a member of the executive of the government, I would like you to tell me whether, in your opinion, the fate of the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang amounts to genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

I think that's beyond the scope of this inquiry actually, but I will just say that I stand by my comment earlier, which is that all people have the right to live a life free of violence and have the right to live a life that is comprised of dignity. I stand against human rights violations no matter which country they're happening in, even if they're individual on that matter.

8:15 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

So you are not prepared to say that what is currently happening in Xinjiang is genocide.

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

I have a point of order, Mr. Chair.

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Patty Hajdu Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Again, I feel—

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Geoff Regan

Mr. Brunelle-Duceppe, there is a point of order.

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

Yes, Mr. Chair, I have a point of order. I think that Mr. Brunelle-Duceppe should stick to the subject.

8:15 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

No, but, wait...

8:15 p.m.

Liberal

Emmanuel Dubourg Liberal Bourassa, QC

We invited the Minister to discuss very specific questions and I think it would be a good idea to question her on those subjects, which are matters of concern to all of us. Thank you.

8:15 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

But it is important to know whether she considers—