House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, the member serves on the Canada-China committee, and one of the excuses we have heard from the government relates to the Privacy Act. However, we know, and it was argued at committee and agreed to by Liberal members at the time, that the Privacy Act cannot overrule the constitutional prerogatives of Parliament, and further, that the Privacy Act itself is explicit that information may be disclosed “for the purpose of complying with a subpoena or warrant issued or order made by a court, person or body with jurisdiction to compel the production of information or for any purpose where the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy”.

This clearly makes nonsense of the government's arguments about the Privacy Act.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Madam Speaker, that is absolutely right. I think that reasoning, twinned with Speaker Milliken's ruling in 2010, will make it virtually very difficult for the government to vote against this. Should it do so, it would raise further questions about what exactly it is hiding.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2021 / 3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, patriotism is a glue that unites the people of any nation. It is a basic requirement for all elected officials, regardless of the tier of government in which they serve. As members of Parliament, we are given various privileges of position and authority for the sake of furthering the well-being and prosperity of our people, our institutions and our land. Canadians look to leaders for protection and care, especially during COVID-19. Trust and expectations of leaders are intertwined with people's assurance of survival, safety and hope for their future. Patriotism was demonstrated by our fallen heroes and war veterans who fought and died to defend our nation's ability to thrive in peace and freedom, and with the capacity to pursue our dreams. We do not take their sacrifices lightly.

I raise the issue of patriotism and the duties of patriotism, because these are at the heart of our debate today. We are debating a Conservative motion for documents related to the transfer of the Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The motion reads: “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”.

It is unfortunate that we have had to put forward this motion, in that we are seeing a pattern with the Prime Minister of dereliction of his patriotic duty to protect the people of Canada, dodging accountability and transparency, and attempting to conceal a host of ethical breaches that have occurred one after another consistently over the duration of his office. I would like to give a summary of his breaches to lead up to the premise on which I am seeking to ask my colleagues to vote in favour of this motion.

In 2019, the Prime Minister tried to interfere with the justice system by inappropriately pressuring the then Minister of Justice and Attorney General to intervene in an ongoing criminal case against SNC-Lavalin. The Prime Minister and his Liberal Party undermined any attempt from the opposition to fact-find and seek an investigation. In the end, rather than confess and apologize for his ethical breaches, he made the excuse that he was trying to save jobs. The outcome of that fiasco was the departure of three powerful female MPs from his party.

In 2020, regarding the WE Charity affair, the Prime Minister dodged questions for months, deliberately ignored the committee's will and presented redacted documents to cover up the truth and protect himself. He went as far as proroguing Parliament in the middle of a national crisis, when Canadians needed us to discuss solutions to help them.

These are just a couple of ethics breaches that had the largest news coverage, but the pattern of dodging accountability and cover-ups is a continuum with the Prime Minister. When it comes to Canada-China issues, the issues of patriotism and serving the best interests of Canadians are highly questionable. We have the government's deal with CanSino. The CanSino vaccine was Canada's first vaccine procured. The Prime Minister was confident about the deal in his announcement, yet the communist regime of China held up the vaccine and Canadians did not really know what was happening until four months later, when the government had to procure vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

Our country was in the midst of a crisis, and instead of keeping the minority Parliament properly briefed on the challenges facing our nation so we could act in the best interests of Canadians, the Prime Minister hoarded the information and hindered Parliament from being able to do its job. My question still stands. Why did the Prime Minister gamble the safety and well-being of our nation with a communist regime that does not have our best interests at heart or take human rights seriously? Why did his pursuit of procuring our first vaccines from this regime, which is committing genocide against Uighur Muslims and detaining our two Michaels, take precedence over the lives of Canadians?

There is Huawei and the Prime Minister's refusal to ban its technology, despite Canada being the only Five Eyes nation not to do so. This is an issue of the privacy of Canadians and national security.

There is a recurring theme here. Canadians and the House have every reason to question the Prime Minister when he continues to make decisions that jeopardize our safety and national security. There has been a lack of accountability and transparency from the Prime Minister. We must pass this motion, because we need to get to the bottom of the truth on the transfer of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We need unredacted documents and to allow the committee to get to the truth to protect our nation's security. It is our patriotic duty.

The two scientists, Xiangguo Qiu and Keding Cheng, with deep connections to the communist regime of China's military, lost their security clearances and were dismissed from the high-security infectious diseases lab in Winnipeg after they transferred deadly viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The Globe and Mail reports that they were fired because of concerns over the intellectual property they were sharing with Chinese authorities. PHAC has said they were fired for reasons unrelated to the transfer of the two diseases and that the investigation goes back to 2018. However, since as far back as 2008, CSIS has been warning Canadians and the research community about the infiltration of the communist regime of China for its own economic and military advantage.

Unredacted versions of documents PHAC was ordered to produce by the Canada-China relations committee on March 31 and May 10, 2021, must be provided for further review. We need to know why these scientists were fired. What actually happened? What implications does this have on the safety of Canadians and the security of our nation? It is the duty of the government to provide members with the tools we need to get to the bottom of this. We need to know the truth. Canadians deserve our utmost care, especially now when they need our help the most at this very vulnerable juncture.

It is clear that Liberals have a track record of covering up scandals and covering for China. We as the opposition, and any member of the government who would dare make a stand for accountability, must support this motion. Furthermore, I am still waiting for an apology from the Prime Minister for conflating Conservatives asking questions of accountability on this issue with stoking intolerance.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister why is he pandering to the Communist regime of China's strategy to silence the opposition from seeking the truth. I would like to ask him if he is trying to save face. Is he being complicit with the Chinese Communist Party?

The apology I am seeking is not just my own, it is that of Canadians who want to have confidence that we are safe and that our Canadian government puts the best interests of Canadians first. We need to not lose heart that, in the middle of this pandemic, a crisis, we have to be scrambling to have these kinds of discussions.

I agree with the many comments made today that we should not be having this discussion, but it comes to a matter of safety. If we do not have safety and security, and we allow whatever is at the root of all this, and if we do not know the truth, and we cannot tackle this issue for what it is, then in the long term, we do not know what our country will be up against.

This is a matter of asking the Prime Minister to be accountable for the decisions he makes. Trust has been breached again and again. We need to review document by document, testimony by testimony, in a non-partisan way, as true patriots of our country, to find a means for Canada to restore security and know where our security has been compromised, for who knows how long.

Canadians do not know the extent that the Prime Minister has pulled the wool over our eyes or if he has pandered himself to a dictator. Thought there is a pattern there that raises concerns. At this stage we need to know what damage control needs to be done to put our nation back on a path to national security. If there have been serious breaches, we need to restore our peace, and protect our privacy and data, so our safety will not be compromised.

Today, I call upon all my colleagues to remember our national anthem, the words, and to consider why they are serving in Parliament. Is it for their party? For their own agenda? Or is it for the people of Canada and the long-term flourishing future of our country? I call upon all my colleagues to support this motion for the sake of our national security, our people and the future of our beautiful Canada. May God keep our land glorious and free.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

As my colleagues have said, the Bloc Québécois is mostly in favour of this motion. However, we have a bit of a problem with part (g) because information could be disclosed and could compromise national security if it is made public.

Does my colleague believe that, if members of the special committee release this information, it could set a dangerous precedent?

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, at all times I believe that it is dutiful and responsible in terms of any committee or member disclosing public testimony, but it should be only information that will help the cause. As we know with committee work, it is not a one-man show or a one-woman show. It is a collaborative process. These issues may be raised in that collaborative process.

I believe that the spirit of this motion really is about drawing the line. It is about coming to a place where we can draw the line to finally say that we are tired of the lack of transparency and accountability. Our security could be and is probably at stake to a certain degree, as I shared in my speech. It is a matter of our future and resetting a pathway to more transparency and accountability in our Parliament.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, as a fellow British Columbian, I join my colleague in calling for more transparency from the government.

On this, though, we have seen the government and the Prime Minister, time and time again, instead of answering reasonable questions and working with the opposition to present more information so the public can know that the government understands that it must protect our national interests and ensure public safety, it has recriminated us. They have called us out for stoking tensions. It is the whole gamut.

If there is one thing the member would like more than anything from the government, in terms of its response, could she please name it?

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I wish for once that the government and the Prime Minister would be able to own up, turn their will toward personal accountability, do what is right, and stop covering up things that could potentially put our country in danger.

I would say, in that spirit, that whatever they did in the past that was wrong, a moment of correction and self-assessment could help turn the page even for them.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, could the member indicate to the House if she has confidence at all in the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians? This committee could, in fact, do virtually everything that is being requested here. Does her party not have confidence in that committee?

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I have a lot of confidence in my colleagues, the processes, parliamentarians and committees. However, I question what interferences happen to impact the effectiveness of the tools we have and how we use them.

My question is not about the competence of our fellow members. It is about the interferences, cover-ups and lack of accountability that prevent that effectiveness.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Surrey Centre.

I am grateful for the opportunity to rise in the House to speak to the motion before us today.

The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory is known around the world for its scientific excellence and contributions to global health. The Public Health Agency of Canada engages in important research collaborations to advance science in order to improve public health here at home and abroad.

As we have learned over the last 16 months, pathogens that have the ability to transmit broadly can quickly reshape society on a global scale. Working closely as an international community is an essential part of the global public health ecosystem trying to keep us all safe.

A simple example of multinational collaboration can be found at the outset of this current pandemic. Chinese researchers openly published the SARS-CoV-2 sequence on January 11, 2020. This allowed National Microbiology Laboratory scientists to generate a functional, first-generation assay, which is a type of analysis or test for things like potency, in just five days. This was well ahead of the first SARS-CoV-2 case arriving in Canada.

While this did not stop SARS-CoV-2 from having a devastating impact on our society both domestically and globally, it would have been impossible to identify the first Canadian cases without this assay. This means that initial transmission chains would have gone unnoticed, and the devastation of that first wave would have been magnified. This multilateral co-operation helped partners around the world to develop tests to identify the virus much earlier than if each country had to identify the sequence independently.

Collaborating with laboratories outside of Canada is critical to advancing public health research and science aimed at improving public health on a global scale, including research into infectious diseases. As an institution with global partnerships, the National Microbiology Laboratory looks to open science and collaboration as a central tenet of its work while recognizing the need to balance open collaboration with a need for agreements that dictate the terms of each collaboration when appropriate.

Collaborations can include working together on a common research agenda, such as the World Health Organization R&D Blueprint. It could be about sharing pathogens through the Global Health Security Action Group Laboratory Network and others, collaborating on developing medical countermeasures and sharing critical surveillance data.

The National Microbiology Laboratory shares samples with other public health laboratories in a safe, responsible and transparent fashion to advance public health research. Sharing samples and information is carried out routinely within the scientific community as part of fostering a robust, global health agenda and to enable scientific advancements regarding high-consequence pathogens with potentially significant societal consequences.

The maximum containment laboratory has a long-standing, international reputation for security in the sharing of materials for the purpose of advancing scientific knowledge. Given the National Microbiology Laboratory's standing as a World Health Organization collaborating partner for viral hemorrhagic fever viruses, as well as its knowledge on regulations and standards for these types of transfers, the laboratory in Winnipeg is often asked to share its material.

It is the laboratory's objective to foster global co-operation rather than enable a monopoly of research on any given disease. In addition, the National Microbiology Laboratory's policies ensure that samples are only sent to reputable labs that meet the appropriate federal laboratory requirements. All transfers follow strict protocols and have the proper security protocols in place.

Furthermore, for close to 20 years, the National Microbiology Laboratory has been offering mobile diagnostic laboratory support. Working alongside the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières, the laboratory has supported missions to contain high-consequence pathogen outbreaks. Timely diagnostic capabilities located close to the outbreak zone have proven to be the most efficient way to mitigate further outbreak spread.

The National Microbiology Laboratory has demonstrated that international collaborations can lead to fruitful discoveries. Through the knowledge learned in part during deployments in the support of outbreak control, the laboratory was able to advance the development of an Ebola vaccine, which played an instrumental role in stemming the recent Ebola outbreaks in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Through discoveries such as this vaccine, Canada takes a leadership role as a global citizen using our knowledge to support the world well beyond our borders.

The National Microbiology Laboratory is also involved in providing training to international laboratory professionals, and has previously trained scientists from many countries, including the United Kingdom, when it was developing its own level 4 program. The lab routinely engages the international community, through established scientific networks such as the global health security action group laboratory network, the alliance of North American public health laboratory networks, the Caribbean Public Health Laboratory Network and the Biosafety Level 4 Zoonotic Laboratory Network. Engaging with the international community through networks like these, the National Microbiology Laboratory is always seeking to find opportunities to enhance its connections to support its programs, all of which are ultimately in service of improving the health of Canadians.

With the current international focus on SARS-CoV-2, the National Microbiology Laboratory has been leveraging these fora to understand how other countries are meeting the laboratory and research challenges of this virus. As we have seen with the variants that have emerged around the world, the threat of COVID-19 to the health of Canadians continues to evolve. Working with the international community to increase our understanding of these emerging unknown variants has been critical to help Canada stay on top of the science related to SARS-CoV-2.

The National Microbiology Laboratory has also been collaborating with partners to securely share information and best practices on testing and sequencing and on how other countries have used available information to improve forecasting and modelling tools. These international resources and partnerships have been critical in the Public Health Agency of Canada's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I would like to finish by reaffirming that the pandemic has clearly demonstrated that no country can single-handedly fend off highly infectious diseases. Canada must continue to collaborate internationally as a means not just to protect ourselves from the disease, but also to help protect citizens around the world. That can be done while respecting security requirements, including national security, and the protection of classified and sensitive information. The ability to continue this work must be safeguarded, and we have the mechanisms in place to do just that.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Damien Kurek Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, it was very interesting to listen to the speech from the member opposite. I certainly hope that she does not conflate some of the very important issues here, including the need for the government to be held accountable for its actions by Parliament.

Specifically, she seems to talk about the need for intelligence and the significant issues surrounding the work done by the lab in Winnipeg. That is fair, but does she have comments as to why her government decided to silence the global pandemic early warning system that would have done significant work in ensuring that Canada was better prepared to respond to the COVID pandemic in its early days?

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I have heard that before. However, in January 2020, I was at a high-technology round table meeting and we were briefed then that GPHIN was up and operating and had identified a cluster of activity of concern in Wuhan, China. That was in January 2020. To my knowledge and based on what I was briefed, and this was not particularly a health issue but was about technology as a whole, at that time they were briefing that GPHIN had identified something in China in late 2019.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Madam Speaker, with respect to the Winnipeg lab and this request for the unredacted version, I would like my colleague to comment on the fine line between national security and our need and right to get more information.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague's question is a good one, and there is no easy answer. After spending 31 years in the military and having held secret and top secret security clearances, I know how important it is to safeguard national security and how to do the work that needs to be done and still protect national security and the classified information out there. That is the concern, along with trying to find a balance.

That is what we have tried to do with the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. It is about having a place to take that kind of classified information to people who have the security clearance to deal with it. That is the balance we need to find.

That is a very good question.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I will speak to research co-operation.

My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, and I am well aware of the horrific experimentation and violence in the name of science that happened in concentration camps. When we have a country that is running concentration camps, committing genocide and running forced organ harvesting on an industrial scale, I submit that we need to have some clear red lines when it comes to research co-operation. Liberal members are talking favourably about research co-operation, but they are saying nothing about the risks associated with co-operation when it involves countries that are going to use the information they gather for human rights violations and nefarious military purposes.

Does this member of the government believe that it is acceptable for Canadian labs to be collaborating with Chinese military institutions, such as the People's Liberation Army's Academy of Military Medical Sciences, under any circumstances, and is such co-operation happening at the moment?

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen McCrimmon Liberal Kanata—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not have the answer to your last question, but you're right that there are always risks. It would be easier if we could just do everything by ourselves and we did not have to work with anybody else, but that is not how the world works right now. We have to take the risks into account when we are designing collaboration.

However, you are right. It is not always easy and it needs to be done very carefully.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I want to remind the hon. member that she is to address her comments to the Chair, not to individual members.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Surrey Centre.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise in the House to speak to this motion before us today.

Science and research play a key role in supporting a dynamic society and a thriving economy. Science and research expand our understanding of the world, lead to new ideas and create a better tomorrow by providing solutions to many of the issues that are most important to Canadians.

Scientific discoveries and new technologies give us the means to protect and improve health and enhance public safety. That is why the Government of Canada is investing so heavily in science and in making sure that science is at the centre of federal decision-making.

As we know, science does not happen in isolation. To deliver leading-edge world-class science and to be at the forefront of discoveries that will improve our daily lives, researchers and scientists need to work in an environment that encourages collaboration and partnership. Communication among scientists and researchers and exchanging with a wide variety of partners in the global scientific community are essential to building knowledge, to contributing to the knowledge economy and to finding solutions to the problems and challenges of today and tomorrow.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us many examples of the ways that collaboration can lead to the advancement of knowledge in ways and at a speed that would otherwise be highly unlikely. From the beginning of the pandemic, scientists have shared samples to identify and sequence SARS-CoV-2, and today, through the lab networks of the global health security initiative, many countries, including Canada, have access to different COVID-19 strains for research and information-sharing purposes, so that scientists all over the world can monitor and assess emerging COVID-19 variants of concern.

Specialists in genome epidemiology, virology and public health genomics work together to track and help understand the genetic variations of the COVID-19 virus as it evolves. This tracking provides critical information for making important decisions about the way forward, including what public health measures to maintain or lift; how to adapt our testing and tracing strategies; and developing, acquiring and distributing vaccines.

Before the pandemic, we did not know if non-medical masks would be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, scientists from different disciplines worked together and shared the results to advance knowledge. Environmental scientists and engineers worked with infectious disease specialists to conduct simulations to find out how far COVID-19 aerosols and droplets could travel. Scientists experimented with different types of fabric to see how effective they would be at preventing the spread of the virus. Behavioural scientists studied what encouraged or stopped people from wearing masks, and mathematicians took all these results into account to build mathematical models to predict the impact of masks on the transmission of COVID-19.

All of these research results were openly shared so that scientists could build upon the knowledge developed by their peers and rapidly develop the expertise needed to manage the pandemic. It is why the Government of Canada encourages and facilitates research, collaborations and partnerships with the external scientific communities in universities and colleges; in provincial, territorial and indigenous governments; and internationally. These linkages provide opportunities to leverage global expertise, knowledge and infrastructure in developing research and scientific knowledge to address a wide scope of public health issues for the benefit of Canadians. These linkages are also critical in maintaining Canada's scientific credibility and reputation and enhancing the social and economic development of Canada.

This government has made a commitment to a new vision for science, aiming to build a stronger, more collaborative federal science and technology ecosystem. Budget 2018 included a financial commitment of $2.8 billion over five years to rebuild federal laboratories as a sustainable, multi-purpose, collaborative federal science and technology infrastructure portfolio. This federal science and technology infrastructure initiative, known as Laboratories Canada, has a long-term vision and a plan that will drive an integrated approach not only to build new federal laboratories, but to foster the cultural change necessary to amplify successful collaborative efforts.

These renewed federal laboratories will serve as collaborative hubs, will enable modern real property approaches and will appropriate connectivity. They will support science and science collaborations by bringing together scientists from inside and outside of government. A culture of openness, along with pooling and sharing of scientific knowledge and expertise across jurisdictions, will promote knowledge transfer and advance the pace of discovery. This open collaboration will benefit researchers at all stages of their career, advance Government of Canada science priorities, stimulate scientific advances and spark innovation. It will shape federal science for decades to come.

While recognizing the importance of openness, transparency and collaboration in science and research, the government recognizes that there are various challenges presented by current threats to research security, nationally and internationally. To address this, the health portfolio is engaged with other relevant federal departments and international counterparts to raise awareness and enhance dialogue among the research community on these issues.

Recognizing that science and research are essential to address the increasingly complex challenges that we face as a society, the government has made clear its commitment to science, research and evidence-informed decision-making. Science-based departments and agencies, including Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada adopted scientific integrity policies in 2019-20. These policies recognize that the public trust in their credibility and reliability of government science and research is tied to the integrity of these activities, and to how scientific evidence and information is managed and communicated.

Scientific integrity involves fostering a culture that supports and promotes the application of concepts of transparency, openness, high-quality work, research ethics, high standards of impartiality, and avoidance of conflict of interest. These are applied at all stages of research, including design, conduct, management, review and communication of science and related activities.

Government scientists and researchers must therefore uphold and conform to the standards of responsible research, conduct and science excellence. These actions aim at increasing trust and demonstrating the government's commitment to having the best evidence base possible to inform our decision for the benefit of the health and well-being of all Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, just as I asked the previous Liberal speaker, we understand, or should understand, how science can be used as a tool for researching how to repress people, how to advance the military objectives of hostile powers, and how to undermine human rights, which means that in the process of scientific co-operation, we should never be sharing information with the militaries of countries that are involved in committing genocide.

Does the member agree that we should be focusing research co-operation on institutions that we can trust, and that we should never be supplying information to the Chinese military?

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I think the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is kind of infatuated with this one fixation, that we should not and cannot share with others.

We have several layers of protection that Canadians rely on. We have CSIS, we have the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, we have the RCMP and various other protocols to protect Canadian interests. We have to share research with countries around the world, some of which we do not always see eye to eye with or that we have a lot of a concern with.

With COVID-19, for example, we know the pandemic originated from China. If we did not collaborate or work with scientists who have the first samples of this, it would be very difficult, and late for us, to collaborate. The whole world has to take that approach, that, when it is a pandemic, when there are things that affect society as a whole, we all have to work with them, whether we approve of some of the methodologies and activities that they do or do not do.

For the sake of protecting our citizens and others, we have to partner with many different countries.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I think the motion had to be moved today, but on May 20, which is not that long ago, The Globe and Mail reported that seven scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg were part of and had collaborated with the Chinese military. Even a retired member of CSIS stated that it was madness to let members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army work at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, especially since Canadians must obtain high-level security clearances to work there.

Why the double standard?

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I absolutely think that there should be layers of screening and layers of protection ongoing.

This is something we will always have, where we have to be ahead of the game and we have to have layers of protection for our laboratories, our research centres, whether it is epidemiology or other scientific research. We must protect our interests. We shall continue to do so.

That is why we have agencies like the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, like CSIS, and why we have oversight committees, like the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. We have these committees and these agencies for that very reason. When they see loopholes or any holes, they must plug them. That is where we must have faith, rely on them and give them the resources they need to do what they know how to do best.

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I am extremely disappointed that we are spending a whole day debating this in one of the darkest moments of our history. We have a climate crisis, we have an opioid crisis, we have small businesses needing help. Does my colleague not agree that this could have all been avoided if there was greater transparency on public health issues?

What has the minister done to try to resolve the issue with the Public Health Agency of Canada to get these documents released to the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations?

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Randeep Sarai Liberal Surrey Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I agree in part with my colleague. There are many other very important things happening right now, not to mention what we just discovered at a residential school in British Columbia, in Kamloops, which is heartbreaking. We have a climate change challenge right now that we have to deal with. There are many other things we should be debating.

The all-party National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians has the ability to look at and flesh out these unredacted documents. That is what it is there for, so that we do not jeopardize our security, but, at the same time, it has oversight. It is parliamentarians in this House, as well as the Senate, who are privy to that. Let them do their job. Let us allow them—

Opposition Motion—Documents Related to the Transfer of Ebola and Henipah Viruses to the Wuhan Institute of VirologyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Unfortunately, the time has expired.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Lakeland.