The Fact News Service
Chandigarh, October 9
A senior Indo-Canadian scientist has been appointed as the next President of the Public Health Agency of Canada or PHAC replacing an incumbent who has had a controversial tenure which included being censured by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Dr Harpreet S Kochhar, currently a senior bureaucrat with Health Canada, the country’s health ministry, with the designation of associate deputy minister of health, will assume charge later this month, replacing Iain Stewart.
Making the announcement on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked Stewart for his service to the PHAC and “recognized his leadership in successfully implementing the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.”
Kochhar, who formed part of the senior management of Health Canada, will now take over at a time when Covid-19 cases in the country are declining but the country remains in the midst of a fourth wave.
Kochhar received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in veterinary science from Punjab Agricultural University before moving to Canada and completing his doctorate in animal biotechnology at the University of Guelph in the province of Ontario.
Before joining Health Canada in April 2020, just as the Covid-19 pandemic started causing a crisis in the country, Kochhar was with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada since 2017, and prior to that, between 2015 and 2017, he served as the chief veterinary officer for Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Canada’s Delegate to the World Organization for animal health.
However, he may have an onerous task before him. Stewart was reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota in June this year for refusing to hand over documents relating to the reasons behind the firing of two Chinese-origin scientists from the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in January last year.
Xiangguo Qiu, and her husband, Keding Cheng, were earlier escorted out of the laboratory in the spring of 2019, with reports swirling she supervised shipment of Ebola and Henipah viruses to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is now synonymous with the Covid-19 pandemic.