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QUESTION PERIOD — Public Health Agency

National Microbiology Laboratory

June 28, 2021

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Government leader, a couple of weeks ago I asked you how much further the Trudeau government would go to hide what it knows about the national security breach at the Level 4 lab in Winnipeg. Now we know the answer, leader. The government of Trudeau has defied four orders of the other place to provide the uncensored documents, and unbelievably, now the Trudeau government has taken the unprecedented action of suing the Speaker of the House of Commons, taking him to court to keep the documents sealed.

Leader, first you told us the documents couldn’t be released due to privacy concerns. Then it was security concerns. Now your government is taking the unprecedented step of suing the Speaker of the House of Commons. How can you defend the Trudeau attack on our Parliament? What, leader, are you so desperate to hide?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Thank you for your question. As I said on a number of occasions, and I will repeat again, there were a number of considerations that led the government to resist the wholesale disclosure of those documents. They included privacy concerns — and I won’t repeat that — and national security concerns.

The government has nothing to hide. The government is committed, however, to protect Canadian national security by not irresponsibly revealing the ways in which our security forces operate, their sources and the like. That is why the government offered to share these documents with the committee of parliamentarians set up for that purpose. It also offered to share them with the law clerk in the presence of national security experts. It is taking this step to go before the Federal Court — a court that, in our legal system, has jurisdiction over national security matters and judges with security clearance to deal with that — to make sure that our national security is not put in jeopardy because of the request for unredacted documents.

It was not only a request, it was an order by the Speaker of the House of Commons. Are you suggesting that the Speaker is irresponsible?

The last time the Trudeau government didn’t want to provide documents requested by parliamentarians was over the WE scandal, and we all know what the government did: they prorogued Parliament. Leader, if the Federal Court refuses your government’s request — and I sincerely hope that they will — will the Trudeau government keep taking extraordinary steps to hide these documents from Canadians? Will your government finally hand them over as they should have done weeks ago, or will they call an election to hide this again, leader? Which is it?

Senator Gold [ + ]

It is none of the above. The fact is, the Government of Canada is not hiding documents. It is making sure that the documents it provides to Parliament are properly redacted and vetted to ensure our national security is not put into jeopardy.

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