April 23rd, 2024

Commons committee to hear witnesses on security concerns about microbiology lab

By The Canadian Press on March 26, 2024.

A House of Commons committee plans to look into concerns about a high-security laboratory after two scientists lost their jobs over dealings with China.The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg is shown in a Tuesday, May 19, 2009 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

OTTAWA – A House of Commons committee plans to look into concerns about a high-security laboratory after two scientists lost their jobs over dealings with China.

The special committee on Canada-China relations has decided to hear various federal witnesses on the matter that has percolated for several years.

The National Microbiology Laboratory researchers were fired in early 2021 after their security clearances were revoked over questions about their loyalty and the potential for coercion by China.

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

The RCMP recently said that a national security investigation into the matter, which began in May 2019, is ongoing.

The Mounties started the probe following a referral from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

After the records were released the Public Health Agency said it had taken steps to bolster lab security in response to the episode.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked his national security and intelligence adviser, Nathalie Drouin, to examine security measures at the lab “to ensure that they are sufficiently robust,” Privy Council Office spokesman St├ęphane Shank said.

Drouin will work with the Public Health Agency and national security community partners to ensure the measures “are strong and implemented appropriately to safeguard Canada’s national security,” Shank added.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2024.

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