That an order of the House do issue for the unredacted version of all documents produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada in response to the March 31, 2021, and May 10, 2021, orders of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations, respecting the transfer of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in March 2019, and the subsequent revocation of security clearances for, and termination of the employment of, Dr. Xiangguo Qiu and Dr. Keding Cheng, provided that:
(a) these documents shall be deposited with the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, in both official languages, within 48 hours of the adoption of this order;
(b) the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel shall promptly thereafter notify the Speaker, who shall forthwith inform the House, whether he is satisfied the documents were produced as ordered;
(c) the Minister of Health shall be ordered to appear before the special committee, for at least three hours, at a televised meeting, to be held within two weeks of the adoption of this order, to discuss the documents and the matters referred to in them;
(d) the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel shall confidentially review the documents with a view to redacting information which, in his opinion, could reasonably be expected to compromise national security or reveal details of an ongoing criminal investigation, other than the existence of an investigation;
(e) the Speaker shall cause the documents, as redacted pursuant to paragraph (d), to be laid upon the table at the next earliest opportunity and, after being tabled, they shall stand referred to the special committee;
(f) the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel shall discuss with the special committee, at an in camera meeting, to be held within two weeks of the documents being tabled pursuant to paragraph (e), what information he redacted pursuant to paragraph (d); and
(g) the special committee may, after hearing from the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel pursuant to paragraph (f), decide to make public any of the information which was redacted, as well as, in lieu of making such information public, rely on such information for the purpose of making findings and recommendations in any subsequent report to the House, provided that, for the purpose of this paragraph, the documents deposited pursuant to paragraph (a) shall be deemed to have been referred to the special committee.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to split my time with the member for Louis‑Saint‑Laurent.
The government is responsible for national security. It is also responsible for ensuring the safety and security of Canadians. We in this House assume the government is protecting national security, and we assume the government is ensuring the safety and security of Canadians, until information comes to our attention that says otherwise.
When this happens, we have a responsibility to investigate, obtain information and find out exactly what happened in order to hold the government accountable and ensure these mistakes are not repeated in the future. This is why I have introduced this motion.
We have information that this country's national security has been compromised. We have information that the safety and security of Canadians has been compromised. What information is this? We know seven government scientists at the government's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg collaborated with Chinese scientists on some of the world's most dangerous viruses and pathogens.
These scientists co-authored at least six studies from 2016 to 2020. We know some of the research was paid for by China's government and that some of these scientists were part of China's military. We know one of the Canadian government scientists, Dr. Qiu, made at least five trips to China in a two-year period alone to collaborate on virus research, including working at the Wuhan Institute of Virology to train scientists and technicians there up to a level 4 standard, allowing them to handle the world's most deadly viruses and pathogens.
We know the same scientist shipped deadly Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology on March 31, 2019. We know Canada's national security agency, CSIS, raised alarm bells about all of this. We know the two government scientists at the lab, Dr. Qiu and Dr. Cheng, along with students we believe to be Chinese nationals, were escorted out of the lab by the RCMP on July 5, 2019. We also know that Dr. Qiu and Dr. Cheng were subsequently terminated in January of this year.
We know Dr. Matthew Gilmour, scientific director general of the lab, quit suddenly on Friday, May 15, just eight weeks into the global pandemic, and that Ms. Tina Namiesniowski, president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, suddenly resigned on Friday, September 18, while Parliament was prorogued.
We know President Biden said last week that there are two likely theories on the origin of the coronavirus. One theory is it emerged from human contact with an infected animal. The other theory is it emerged from an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the same lab the government's lab in Winnipeg collaborated with.
President Biden has ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to report back to him in 90 days, on August 24, as to which theory is most likely, and he ordered that elected members of the U.S. Congress be kept fully apprised of the investigation so the people's representatives would be aware of national security issues.
These are the things we know. It is clear from what little we do know that the government has failed to protect Canada's national security and has failed to ensure the safety and security of our fellow citizens.
What we do not know is exactly why Dr. Qiu and Dr. Cheng were fired. We do not know the totality of the collaboration between the Winnipeg lab and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We do not know if there were shipments of other viruses or other materials, such as reagents, from Winnipeg to Wuhan.
We do not know how a Chinese military scientist Feihu Yan of the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Medical Science was granted access to work in the government's Winnipeg lab, which appears to be contrary to government policy, or how the students escorted out of the lab by the RCMP, purportedly Chinese nationals, gained access to that same lab.
We do not know exactly why the two most senior executives of the Public Health Agency of Canada suddenly resigned during the pandemic, on May 15 and September 18 respectively.
It is because of the things known and unknown that we have asked the government for more information. We have been responsible in seeking this information. We began our request for these documents at committee, at the Canada-China committee, on two separate occasions: March 31 and May 10. The committee ordered the government to produce documents about the firing of these two government scientists and about the transfers of viruses from Winnipeg to Wuhan.
In both cases, we were careful to ensure that any documents received would be reviewed by the committee in camera with the law clerk to prevent anything injurious to national security or any details of an ongoing criminal investigation from being made public. The government has failed to comply with both committee orders.
That brings us to today. I have introduced this motion so the House of Commons, as a whole, can put its full weight behind an order to the government to produce these documents. The motion in front of us today ensures that nothing injurious to national security and no details of an ongoing criminal investigation would be made public.
Some might say that the RCMP should investigate this. However, an investigation by the RCMP would be narrowly limited to violations of statute law and would not look at broader concerns about national security and foreign policy.
Some might say this information is best given to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. That would be wrong because the government should not be investigating itself. While NSICOP is made up of parliamentarians, unlike the United Kingdom's intelligence and security committee, it is not a committee of Parliament. It is not a committee of this place.
Committee members are appointed and serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister, including the Chair. The government has the power to terminate the committee's reviews. It is also allowed to withhold information from the committee. The Prime Minister has the power to review and amend the committee's reports before they are made public.
In short, NSICOP is accountable to the government. Under our constitution, the government is accountable to this House. It is to this House that the government should deliver the documents.
It is unfortunate that we are using precious time in the House to debate this motion. This question should have been addressed at committee, but the government ignored two committee orders, so we had no other choice but to bring this matter to the attention of the House of Commons as a whole.
It is also unfortunate for the government that we are here today, for this was a government that came to office promising to do things differently, promising an open and accountable government, promising to respect Parliament and promising to ensure greater democratic oversight. This is a government headed by a Prime Minister who voted for the motion ordering the previous Conservative government to release the Afghan detainee documents and who now does the opposite of what he said in opposition.
This is a government that says it supports a transparent and independent investigation into the origin of the coronavirus in China, which is so important to the world if we are to prevent the next pandemic. The problem is that China has not been co-operating with the investigation and has not been forthcoming with information about the lab in Wuhan. It has been stalling and refusing to release the information needed for the investigation.
The irony is that the government, whose Winnipeg lab collaborated with the Wuhan lab, is also stalling and refusing to release the information needed for the investigation about the Winnipeg lab and its collaboration with the Wuhan lab.
We live in a world today where there is a great clash between two ideals. On the one hand, authoritarian governments such as China, with their new-found prosperity, wish to spread their model of authoritarianism to much of the world. On the other hand, democracies like ours are on the defensive. The time-tested principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law will triumph once again in the future, but only if we are courageous enough to take a stand for them in the present.
That is why this motion must pass. I ask all members of this House to support this motion to order the government to produce these documents.