A motion to launch a parliamentary investigation into a national security incident at Canada’s top infectious disease laboratory in Winnipeg was shut down by the Liberals on Monday, with the support of the NDP. 

A motion was introduced by conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong to investigate how two scientists were able to relay confidential information to Chinese authorities without security clearances

“The People’s Republic of China and its entities infiltrated Canada’s top microbiology lab, a national security breach representing a very serious and credible threat to Canada,” said Chong.

News of the security breach was first leaked to the media in 2021, after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service discovered that two scientists fired from Canada’s most secure microbiology lab in Winnipeg covertly worked with labs run by the Chinese government and also collaborated with “institutions whose goals have potentially lethal military applications.”

Citing national security concerns, the Trudeau government attempted to keep documents detailing the breach from being released, even going as far as to sue the Speaker of the House of Commons in court to stop him from releasing them. 

Eventually, the Liberals agreed to allow for an ad-hoc committee of opposition MPs to review the documents to resolve disputes over its redacted portions before a panel of judges. 

Newly unredacted documents released last week revealed that the two Chinese infectious-disease scientists gave confidential scientific data to China which presented “a realistic and credible threat to Canada’s economic security.”

The two scientists were removed from the lab in 2019 and both had their security clearances revoked. However, they would not be fired until almost two years later in January 2021.

It’s unknown whether or not the two are still residing in Canada. 

“The government defied four orders of the House of Commons and its committee for these documents,” Chong told the House of Commons Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. 

“After three long years we finally have gotten access to the documents and we need to continue this examination in order to hold the government accountable.”

However Liberal MP Iqra Khalid moved an immediate motion to adjourn the committee hearings with support from her party and the NDP, effectively ending the possibility of an investigation. 

Khalid said that the Conservatives were engaging in “political games,” claiming that the Trudeau government had already taken the necessary steps to fix security issues at the Winnipeg lab, according to the Globe and Mail.  

“It is not urgent and it is not within the mandate of this ethics committee,” said Khalid.

Chong’s motion would have called upon top officials from CSIS and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as Health Minister Mark Holland, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Natalie Drouin, National Security Adviser to Trudeau to answer questions before a committee.

“Today Liberal and NDP MPs voted together, at an emergency meeting of the Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee, to obstruct our attempt to examine why national security breaches at the government’s Winnipeg lab went undetected for so long, why it took 10 months to secure the lab on July 5, 2019, and why it took three years for the government to hand over documents Parliament ordered be delivered in 2021,” wrote Chong in a written statement. 

“The Trudeau government covered up these national security breaches. First, it defied four orders of Parliament. Then, it sued the Speaker of the House of Commons. Finally, it called a snap election, which had the effect of dissolving the four orders. Every effort was made to prevent the release of the documents. Now the documents have finally been released, the government is again trying to cover things up, this time with the support of the NDP.”

Conservative MP Andrew Scheer called the decision “shocking” in a social media post, saying that, “For the NDP, protecting Trudeau from political embarrassment is more important than protecting national security. Singh will do anything to keep Trudeau in as PM.

Conservative communications directorSarah Fischer also expressed her outrage over the NDP’s support of the Liberals in a post to X, writing, “With the support of the NDP, what was supposed to be a 3 hour meeting was shut down in less than an hour.”