Liberals urge Tories to reconsider document compromises on dismissed scientists

Ottawa — Government Building Leader Mark Holland is a compromise that will allow MPs to finally see unedited documents related to the dismissal of two scientists at Canada’s Supreme Security Institute. We are asking conservatives to reconsider their refusal.

In a letter to his conservative counterpart Gerald Deltel on Tuesday, the Netherlands said he would allow a special party-wide security committee to review all documents. Repeat the suggestion. Publicly released without jeopardizing national security.

He cites an article by several experts who recently upheld the government’s claim that Canada’s national security would be compromised by following the opposite request to hand over the document to a regular committee of parliamentarians.

Documents are scrutinized by parliamentary lawyers on potential national security issues under a House of Commons order passed by the opposition over opposition from the Liberal Minority Government last spring, but members of the committee say they Retain the right to publish selected materials.

In its letter, the Netherlands asks Deltel to read a recent article by The Globe and Mail, written by former Ambassador to the United States Michael Cargin and former Privy Council Office officials Greg Fife and Jim Mitchell. I’m urging you.

In it, the trio argued that prolonging the documentary debate “may harm Canadian intelligence and security agencies.”

They wrote that the disclosure of seemingly harmless information would actually “cover” foreign sources and could be a “gift to hostile intelligence agencies.” It can also discourage sharing information for fear of identifying potential sources.

In addition, if the government loses control over the disclosure of sensitive information, the trio argues that it violates Canada’s obligations to “Five Eyes” intelligence partners where sensitive information is shared under strict confidentiality conditions.

In particular, intelligence relations between Canada and the United States “will also be seriously undermined by a loss of confidence in the government’s ability to protect sensitive information,” they wrote.

Holland said in a letter that three experts upheld his compromise.

“It acknowledges your fair and correct request to be able to see all unedited documents and the power of the House of Representatives to order such documents. Our proposal is our national security. We do this without endangering our security, “says the Netherlands.

He cites another recent article by Leah West and Stephanie Calvin at Carleton University and Thomas Juneau at the University of Ottawa. ..

The Conservatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Dutch letter.

The Tories have flatly rejected the Dutch compromise, but Bloc Québécois and the NDP have not categorically ruled it out.

“I know they are considering it,” the Netherlands said in an interview Tuesday.

Opposition believes that the document reveals why scientist Xiangguo Qiu and her husband Keding Cheng were escorted from Winnipeg’s National Institute of Microbial Sciences in July 2019 and then fired in January last year.

They also want to see documents related to the transfer of the deadly Ebola and henipaviruses to the Wuhan Institute of Veterinary Medicine in China in March 2019.

Shortly before Christmas, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole announced that he would not appoint Tory members to the National Security and Intelligence Committee (NSICOP) of Parliament until the document wraps off.

In his letter, the Netherlands urged conservatives to reconsider their decision, claiming that NSICOP is “a model of cooperation” where “partisan interests do not take precedence over national security.”

NSICOP was created in 2017 specifically to allow MPs to review sensitive information. It submits a classified report to the Prime Minister, which will later be submitted to Parliament in an edited form. Its members must have the highest security clearance and are kept secret.

“Not participating in this essential monitoring mechanism weakens its essential function,” Holland wrote.

The document dispute has been going on for a year, and in June the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada was taken to a bar in the House of Representatives for being reprimanded for refusing to hand over the document.

The Government then applied to the Federal Court of Canada to ban the publication of the document because the disclosure was “harmful to international affairs or defense or national security.” The case was withdrawn after the election was called in August. This concludes House’s order to create the document, along with all other businesses before Commons.

Conservatives have vowed to continue pursuing this issue in the new parliamentary session.

The Netherlands finds a resolution that respects the right of parliamentarians to view documents without jeopardizing national security and has “wide public confidence” that there is a fair process to achieve that balance. It ’s very important. ”

“I don’t think it’s healthy to leave these problems alone,” he said in an interview.

“Conservatives are in power and may one day be in power again and must face these same problems, so the position they are in and how harmful it is to national security. I hope you see it through the precedent lens of establishing what is possible. “

Along Joan Briden

Canadian press