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The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg on May 19, 2009.JOHN WOODS/The Canadian Press

Opposition parties are calling for the immediate release of uncensored records on the firing of two scientists from Canada’s top infectious-disease laboratory – researchers who worked with China.

The Conservatives, New Democrats and Bloc Québécois Thursday urged that the documents be made available as soon as possible, echoing a special committee of MPs that evaluated the records and recommended the release of information currently redacted from public view.

The committee found that most of the information redacted from related Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) documents appears to have been withheld to shield the organization from embarrassment rather than to protect national security.

It is recommending that the majority of these records be made public at the “next sitting of the House of Commons,” according to a Feb. 19 letter, obtained by The Globe and Mail, that was sent to House leaders of the government and the three main opposition parties.

The House is not sitting this week but returns next week. It’s up to the government to release the documents.

The Prime Minister’s Office referred questions to Health Minister Mark Holland’s office. Christopher Aoun, press secretary to Mr. Holland, declined to say when the documents would be tabled in the Commons.

“We thank the committee for its work. We will be able to speak about the package once it is tabled in Parliament,” Mr. Aoun said.

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Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng, infectious disease scientists from Canada’s top-secret laboratory in Winnipeg who collaborated with researchers in China.Handout cleared

As The Globe also reported this week, a source with direct knowledge of the material said the information when uncovered would show that scientists Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, provided confidential scientific information to China. The Globe is not identifying the source, who could be prosecuted under the Security of Information Act.

The two infectious-disease scientists had their security clearances revoked and were escorted out of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in July, 2019. They were fired in January, 2021.

Their whereabouts are not known. Vanity Fair reported last November that Dr. Qiu is listed as a “mentor” at the University of Science and Technology in the city of Hefei in eastern China. The magazine also reported that the scientist is listed as a co-inventor on two patent applications submitted by the Wuhan Institute of Virology on June 20 for Nipah virus antibodies.

On Thursday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said on X that Mr. Trudeau “must release the documents related to what happened in Winnipeg.” He added: “No more hiding. No more excuses. End the coverup.”

NDP House Leader Peter Julian said: “The NDP urges the government to comply with the recommendation of the special committee in charge of evaluating the information on the firing of the two scientists and release the documents.”

Bloc spokesman Julien Coulombe-Bonnafous also called for the release “of the documents, as the committee recommended.” He added: “It should be done in the next few days, and we encourage the government to do it as quickly as possible.”

Ottawa previously said it could not release unredacted versions of the documents about the scientists’ dismissal for national-security reasons, which led opposition parties to declare the Liberals in contempt of Parliament.

The government later took then-House of Commons speaker Anthony Rota to court to prevent their release. It dropped that bid after the 2021 election was called.

Last year, the opposition and the Liberal government agreed to appoint the special committee of MPs to examine unredacted copies of all the related records and make recommendations on what more could be made public. Three former judges were brought in to assess the release of additional information against the risk to such things as national security.

The letter from the committee determined that “The information appears to be mostly about protecting the organization from embarrassment for failures in policy and implementation, not legitimate national security concerns, and its release is essential to hold the Government to account.”

The Globe has reported that Dr. Qiu, her husband and other scientists at the lab collaborated with Chinese military researchers to study and conduct experiments on deadly pathogens such as Ebola, Lassa fever and Rift Valley fever.

The Globe also reported that Mounties were probing whether the scientists passed on Canadian intellectual property. The investigation was focusing on the possibility that materials such as plasmid DNA molecules, which could be used to recreate vaccines or viruses, were transferred to Chinese authorities without PHAC approval.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service urged the removal of security clearances for the two scientists, The Globe reported, relating to their travel to China and collaboration with Chinese scientists.

One high-profile Chinese researcher, Feihu Yan of the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, worked for a period of time at the Winnipeg lab. Dr. Qiu also collaborated on Ebola research with Major-General Chen Wei, the Chinese military’s top epidemiologist and virologist.

Dr. Qiu’s name appears as a co-author on more than 120 scientific research papers published between 2000 and 2021. A significant number were collaborations with Chinese scientists.

Four months before the scientists were expelled from the lab, access to information documents show Dr. Qiu played a role in shipping two exceptionally virulent viruses – Ebola and Henipah – to the Wuhan facility.

PHAC has said all protocols were followed, but documents show the shipments lacked a standard material-transfer agreement that spelled out intellectual-property rights.

The agency maintains that the couple’s dismissal was unrelated to the transfer of the viruses.

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