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Rae calls for transparency in vaccine flap

Posted on February 3, 2010

by LarrAdd Newy Kusch – Winnipeg Free Press
February 3, 2010

Bob Rae performs his ‘prorogue song’ for U of M students.

THE lack of answers from Ottawa over why the federal government decided to shelve an $88-million HIV pilot vaccine manufacturing facility shows just how important it is for Parliament to be in session, Bob Rae says.

The Ontario Liberal MP and foreign affairs critic was in Winnipeg Tuesday to speak to University of Manitoba students about Canada’s role on the global stage.

Rae said if Harper had not prorogued Parliament until early March, his government would have been held accountable for its surprise decision to pull the project, which some insiders claim would have gone to Winnipeg.

Manitoba’s senior cabinet minister Vic Toews would also have had to answer questions about whether partisan politics were a factor in the decision to cancel the project, Rae said.

“I think that’s a very practical example of where having the House in session makes a difference,” the former national Liberal leadership candidate said. “It would make for greater accountability, which is the key to our democracy.”

Winnipeg South Liberal nominee Terry Duguid, who quit his job as CEO with the International Centre for Infectious Diseases after receiving the Liberal nomination in Winnipeg South, said the pilot vaccine manufacturing facility would have generated $500 million in economic activity in Winnipeg over a 20 year period.

“It’s just tragic that it seems that petty politics, whether it’s petty national politics or petty local politics, are getting in the way of this major development for our community.”

Rae and Duguid also spent time glad-handing with students in the University Centre, and Rae played and sang his Prorogue Song — a not-so-subtle dig at Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sung to the Beatles’ tune Let it Be.