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Liberals demand answers after HIV-vaccine plans scrapped

Liberals are calling for an investigation into the Harper government’s decision to cancel plans for an HIV-vaccine manufacturing facility in Canada.

In a statement released on Fri, Feb 19, the government said that no one in Canada was qualified to build the facility, and that there is no longer a need for the facility in Canada.

"This entire process has been highly suspicious,” says Liberal health critic Carolyn Bennett. “Here we have a government
cancelling, and then un-cancelling, and then re-cancelling an
$88-million project, with no valid explanation as to why. The
government’s behaviour cries out for an investigation by Canada’s
Auditor General or at Parliamentary committees.”

Bill Gates and Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative in 2007.

Liberal public health critic Kirsty Duncan wants to know what will happen to the money set aside for the HIV-vaccine facility. When the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative was announced in 2007, it diverted money from local AIDS organizations.

"With or without this facility, we still need funding for HIV/AIDS
research, prevention and treatment, while those living with HIV/AIDS
still need supports and services,” says Duncan. “We need the
government’s assurances that the dollars budgeted for the vaccine
facility will be applied to the fight against HIV/AIDS."

Liberal industry, science and tech critic Marc Garneau slammed the Tories for being “short-sighted” and “partisan.”

"The government’s claim that no one in Canada is qualified to build
this facility is beyond belief,” says Garneau. “Canada has some of
the most leading-edge researchers in the world, and our government
should be doing everything it can to keep them here. This facility had
the potential to bring us to the cutting edge of AIDS research, drawing
in research scientists from around the world, while at the same time
creating much-needed jobs. 

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