OTTAWA—Erin O’Toole says Conservatives will no longer participate in a special national security committee because it’s being used to cover up an incident that caused two scientists at Canada’s highest level security laboratory to be fired.
The Conservative leader says his party’s members are withdrawing “effectively immediately” from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
He says the committee is being used as “a tool” by the prime minister to prevent opposition parties from finding out why the Public Health Agency of Canada terminated the employment of scientists Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, in January.
The pair had been escorted out of Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory in July 2019 over what PHAC has described as “relating to possible breaches in security protocols.”
Citing national security concerns, the minority Liberal government has defied an order passed by the House of Commons to turn over all unredacted documents related to the firings to the Canada-China relations committee.
Instead, PHAC has given the documents to the all-party national security committee of parliamentarians, whose members have top security clearance and are bound to secrecy.