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Former senior judges to have last word on disclosure of sensitive laboratory records

OTTAWA — Three former senior judges will have the final say on the public disclosure of documents related to the firing of two scientists from Canada’s highest-security laboratory.

The Liberal government says former Supreme Court justices Ian Binnie and Marshall Rothstein, along with Eleanor Dawson, who sat on the Federal Court of Appeal, will assist an ad hoc committee of MPs reviewing the records.

Opposition parties believe the documents will shed light on why scientists Xiangguo Qiu and her husband, Keding Cheng, were escorted out of Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory in July 2019 and subsequently fired in January 2021.

They also want to see documents related to the transfer, overseen by Qiu, of deadly Ebola and Henipah viruses to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology in March 2019.

The MPs on the committee are Liberal Iqra Khalid, Conservative John Williamson, René Villemure of the Bloc Québécois and the NDP’s Heather McPherson.

The government says that if members believe redacted information should be made public, the three former judges will determine how it could be disclosed more widely without compromising national security or any other public or private interests.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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