June 18, 2021
For the first time since 1891, a top federal bureaucrat has been censured by Parliament, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
By a vote of 176-150, MPs voted to censure Iain Stewart, president of the Public Health Agency, and summoned him to the bar of the House to be formally cited for contempt.
“Where do we go now? How do we get things done? We settle this by democracy,” said Conservative MP Dan Albas (Central Okanagan-Similkameen, B.C.).
Stewart was named for defying three orders for documents detailing an RCMP raid at the Health Agency’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. Top security clearance was given to a team of Chinese researchers who were subsequently fired, including a scientist with the People’s Liberation Army.
The Chinese researchers were fired last January 20. The Public Health Agency said an RCMP investigation is ongoing.
But Health Minister Patricia Hajdu on Thursday defended the PHA’s refusal to disclose records.
“The Liberal government will never play games with Canadians’ national security,” said Hajdu.
The Commons majority ordered the records be released to legal counsel by Monday.
“Handing over these documents is not a matter of political choice,” said Conservative MP Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.).
“It is actually a matter of law. The Liberals should not think of themselves as being above the law.”
“We know now that of the people working at the Winnipeg lab, one in particular was an official from the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences. We know there has been interchange and other forms of co-operation between Chinese military institutions and Canadian labs.”
“It seems to bring up a pattern of behaviour from the government,” said New Democrat MP Richard Cannings (South Okanagan-West Kootenay, B.C.).