April 13th, 2024

Conservatives push for Commons committee hearings on microbiology lab security lapses

By The Canadian Press on March 4, 2024.

Conservative MP Michael Chong rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. The federal Conservatives want a House of Commons committee to delve into the activities of two scientists who were fired from a high-security lab over their dealings with China.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA – The federal Conservatives want a House of Commons committee to delve into the activities of two scientists who were fired from a high-security lab over their dealings with China.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong is asking the ethics committee to call various witnesses, including representatives of the Public Health Agency of Canada.

More than 600 pages of internal reports and correspondence about the security matter were made public last week following a special all-party review.

The documents show two scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory were fired in early 2021 after reviews found they failed to protect sensitive assets and information.

Records say the scientists, Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, played down their collaborations with Chinese government agencies.

They were stripped of their security clearances over questions about their loyalty and the potential for coercion or exploitation by China.

The records show the Canadian Security Intelligence Service concluded that Qiu repeatedly lied about the extent of her work with institutions of the Chinese government and refused to admit involvement in various Chinese programs, even when evidence was presented to her.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024.

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