PHAC president rebuked, still doesn't produce documents on fired scientists

The Commons speaker has reprimanded the president of the Public Health Agency of Canada for defying a Commons order to produce information about two high-security lab scientists fired without explanation.

OTTAWA — Conservatives are proposing that the Public Health Agency of Canada's offices be searched after the head of the agency refused once again to hand over unredacted documents related to the firing of two scientists from Canada's highest security laboratory

The move comes after PHAC president Iain Stewart appeared before the bar of the House of Commons, where he was reprimanded by Speaker Anthony Rota for refusing to comply with a House order to produce the documents.

He still didn't provide the documents, despite being subjected to the public shaming — a procedure that, until now, hadn't been used against a private citizen for more than a century.

Stewart has repeatedly said he can't release the documents because he has a legal obligation as a veteran public servant to protect national security and privacy rights.

Conservative House leader Gerard Deltell says there must be consequences for Stewart's continued flagrant flouting of the House order; he's proposing that Rota direct the Commons' sergeant-at-arms to search PHAC offices to obtain the documents.

New Democrats have signalled their support for the proposal; the Bloc Québécois has reserved its decision.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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