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Canadian parliament to probe government's handling of COVID-19 pandemic

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-10-27 09:22
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Popular buffet restaurant, Tucker's Marketplace in the ByWard Market is seen closed as a result of measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Oct 19, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

OTTAWA - The Canadian House of Commons is to investigate the Liberal government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic after opposition MPs passed a motion for the investigation on Monday.

The motion by the Conservative Party is designed for a parliamentary probe of the government's handling of the pandemic, including some of its sensitive contracts with suppliers for coronavirus vaccine candidates and protective gear.

MPs from the Conservative Party, Bloc Quebecois, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party joined forces to pass the motion, while the governing Liberal Party MPs voted against it. The motion passed 176 to 152.

Under the motion, the government will disclose emails, documents, notes, and other records on the COVID-19 pandemic from the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council Office, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as from cabinet ministers' offices since mid-March.

The motion has caused huge concerns from and strong response from the government.

A variety of industry groups, companies and other experts spoke out against the Conservative motion before it passed.

They said releasing confidential documents detailing the federal government's business deals with suppliers of personal protective equipment and testing devices could hurt Canadian manufacturers and sully Canada's global business reputation.

Before today's parliamentary vote, Canadian Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said that if the motion passed, suppliers of things like coronavirus vaccines and protective gear could walk away.

"I do not want to be back here to explain to Canadians that because of the disclosure we were forced to make, we were not able to secure vaccines or PPE for Canadians because our suppliers chose to walk away," she said during a press conference. "I am seriously saying our contracts of vaccines, PPE, rapid test kits are in jeopardy."

"The sensitive information in those contracts cannot be underestimated. There are confidentiality clauses, there are propriety information clauses, there is information relating to the models of particular devices," the minister added

Opposition parties have insisted there is sufficient protection for industry while accusing the ruling Liberal government of stirring fears.

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