House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nisga'a.

Topics

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

December 13th, 1999 / 11:05 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

moved that Bill C-244, an act to provide for the taking of samples of blood for the benefit of persons administering and enforcing the law and good Samaritans and to amend the criminal code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to Bill C-244, the blood samples act, also known, for reasons I will get into shortly, as the good Samaritan's act.

I will start by telling the ancient story of the good Samaritan. A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among robbers. They stripped him and beat him and went off leaving him half dead. And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. and likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him. When he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them, and he put him on his own donkey, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper and said “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you”.

That is the story of the good Samaritan. It is a story of helping the less fortunate, helping society and doing what is right even if you are the only person prepared to follow through on your own beliefs.

A constituent of mine acted as a good Samaritan but unfortunately paid a price for his actions. He now runs the risk of contracting HIV.

His father contacted me to tell of the heroic actions of his teenage son. The young man, whom I will call Tim, was working at a retail store when another man grabbed some items and sprinted away on foot. Rather than just shrugging his shoulders and letting him run away, Tim chased after the thief and tackled and held him until the police arrived.

Unfortunately for Tim, the shoplifter cut himself in the action and a good deal of blood was spilt on Tim as he made a citizen's arrest. It turned out that the thief was also an intravenous drug user, well known to the authorities and a high risk of carrying communicable diseases. Some of the virus may have got into Tim's young body.

I am sure Tim did not wait to see whether or not this person had a communicable disease before he did the right thing and stopped him from stealing. I think he is just wired up that way and that he was taught that way. He was brought up in a home where one does the right thing because it is the right thing to do, not because we weigh the risk to our own person.

It was a tragedy when the police had to break the news to Tim that the thief had refused to give him a blood sample. They told Tim that the law makes it impossible to take a sample unless the person is willing to give it up.

Consequently, Tim was forced into a lengthy, extensive and expensive program of preventive drug therapy just in case the virus was present. The therapy is not 100% effective, of course, but more importantly Tim had to go through this therapy because he did not know one way or the other whether a communicable disease was present.

If Tim could have known what diseases, if any, the shoplifter had, he could have made a more informed decision about his own health and the care that he should have sought. He could have decided whether to continue to take the medical treatment, because the drug therapy carries with it serious adverse effects. Most of all, Tim would have had greater peace of mind and more emotional strength to face the future if he had known what his chances were of contracting a communicable disease.

Unfortunately, Tim's example is not isolated. Let me read a story of Isobel Anderson, an Ottawa police constable who is in the gallery today. We can read her full story in an article by Anna Nicolle in the November 15, 1999 edition of the Ottawa Citizen . I will read a little of that article:

Isobel Anderson's nightmarish experience began when she arrested a man for armed robbery in October 1997. While searching for weapons, she reached into his pocket and felt a stab of pain. She pulled her hand out to find a bloody needle stuck in her palm. “My first thought, was God, I have AIDS,” recalls Constable Anderson, a mother of three.

She then went on to describe the emotional trauma she had as a young mother on her own. As she feared, doctors told her the needle may have infected her with HIV. She was advised that if she started treatment with the anti-HIV medication AZT within hours of being jabbed she might not contract the virus.

Then she learned that the robbery suspect refused to take the HIV test and could not be compelled by law to give a blood sample. Hours later the man agreed to be tested because he was hungry. He said “If you give me a hamburger, I will give you a blood sample”. In other words, Ms. Anderson's life, which was hanging in the balance, was only traded off for a blood sample and a hamburger. It should not have to be that way. The law should specifically state that Ms. Anderson had the right to know whether or not that person had a communicable disease.

Both HIV and hepatitis C can take a long time to develop or incubate. Ms. Anderson continued taking AZT for three days until her initial HIV test results came back negative. Then after consulting with her doctor, she decided not to continue using the drugs. She said that the side effects of her treatment were life changing. The chemotherapy side effects, which involved hives, hair loss and chronic pain, lasted for weeks, to the point where she could not get up out of her own chair.

Today, thankfully, Isobel Anderson is both HIV and hepatitis C negative. It is sad when, under our present legal system, those who help others become helpless, those who sacrifice become sacrificed and the heroes become victims.

That is why Bill C-244 is for people like Tim and Isobel. It is also for the literally thousands of other Canadians just like them: the paramedics, the police officers, the ambulance workers, the doctors, the nurses, the firefighters, the dentists, the dental hygienists, the security guards and volunteers, the different health workers and attendants, the ski patrol, which was at the news conference this morning, all of the emergency workers and thousands of people like Tim who do a good deed just to help people out. It is for those who give the most to help our society but receive little back in return when they are the ones needing help. That is what this bill is about.

How would this bill help Tim, Isobel and the thousands of people I mentioned in the future? In a nutshell, Bill C-244 enables a judge to order the taking of a blood sample from any person who is either accidentally or deliberately contaminated a good Samaritan, health care professional, emergency professional or security professional while in the course of duty. The person's blood would be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The blood test analysis would only be shared with the individual from whom the blood sample was taken, the contaminated person, a qualified medical practitioner conducting the test and the police officer responsible for executing the warrant. Only those four people would know the results of those three tests. The blood test analysis would be used for medical treatment only.

What would Bill C-244 mean for people like Tim and Isobel? Some people say that it would not mean that much because people might want to take the treatment anyway because relying on the test results of an alleged assailant could provide false assurances.

However, I would ask the following question of everyone in the House. What if it were one of the members who had a high risk exposure to someone else's blood or other bodily fluids? What if it were you, Mr. Speaker? Would you not want to know just what it was that you had been exposed to? Would you not want to know what your chances were of contracting a communicable disease? I would say yes, and I am almost certain that everyone else would say yes. Why is this? I think it is because there are three assurances by getting a blood sample from an alleged assailant's blood.

I will talk about the three true assurances that the blood test results would give. First, knowing whether the source person has HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C assures the victim of a better decision regarding his or her own health. The victim has to decide whether to take a very intrusive chemotherapy program to prevent the advance of the disease, and it would help the victim to make that decision wisely because it is a difficult and very traumatic decision to make.

In Isobel's case and in many other cases, once victims or patients discover that the assailant or injured person has tested negative to these diseases, they terminated the treatment. It gives them a better chance of making a good medical decision in their own lives.

From 1996 to 1998, the Toronto hospital assessed 30 possible sharps-related exposures to HIV. In other words, they were mostly pin pricks from needles where there was possible contamination. Here is one quotation from its study, after counselling of these 30 people, “5 persons chose not to take treatment; 8 persons started chemoprophylaxis but discontinued when the source patient's results were negative”. They changed their minds based on that test result. “Rapid HIV testing helped to reduce the duration of the treatment. The remaining 17 persons planned to take one month of medication; 9 of the 17 completed the medications”, and so on.

The study stated that the side effects experienced by all persons on these medications included nausea, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea and insomnia. It is a very traumatic chemotherapy prevention program.

The other serious side effects involve potential harm to reproductive capacity, hair loss, numbness, tingling in the hands or feet, a decrease in the number of white blood cells, anemia, malaise, coughing, abdominal pain, kidney stones and a higher risk of contracting diabetes. All these are side effects from a preventive chemotherapy program.

As we can see, taking these drugs to fight HIV is not like a doctor saying take two aspirins and see me in the morning. The side effects are serious. Taking these drugs is not entered into lightly. I think everyone would want to know whether or not the person who contaminated them had a serious communicable disease. Clearly it is far better for one's health to stop the treatment than to continue taking the medication if one knows about it. At least that is what many people have decided in these test cases.

The second true assurance of testing perpetrators' or people's blood is that they are also assured of treatment if carrying a disease unknowingly. Again that would be their decision. Imagine people who perhaps are intravenous drug users and have not bothered to get a blood test. If this situation came upon them, the blood test results would be shared with them. They might want to say that one should know if one has hepatitis B and have some treatment for it, or the side effects or consequences will be serious. It would help such a person as well.

The third true assurance of testing is that whether negative or positive it provides a greater peace of mind to the good Samaritan, emergency or health professional. Therefore I would argue there are good reasons to take this test and to proceed with it. Testing perpetrators or injured people for communicable diseases will not provide false assurances to the victims and patients. It will provide true assurances and true alternatives for them as they decide what medical treatment they should be taking.

Some people are focused on the negative parts of the bill. They are concerned about charter protection of rights, security of the person and so on. Those are valid concerns that I have tried to address in the bill by making it very difficult but not impossible to get a blood sample from someone who is at high risk of passing on a communicable disease. It is a fair and proper balance between the charter rights of the sick, injured and perpetrators of crime and the charter rights of those who are in service to help others.

Under the present system emergency and law enforcement professionals and good Samaritans have no right to the security of their person. If these individuals have a high risk exposure to a stranger's blood they have no means to determine the likelihood of whether or not they have contracted a disease.

They must anxiously await the incubation periods for HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B. In the meantime they can choose to undergo medical treatments with severe health side effects, treatments they probably would not take if they knew that the blood to which they had been exposed had tested negative for HIV.

This situation produces severe mental and physical duress and I believe violates a person's rights. People should have a right to know what virus may have entered their bodies. Bill C-244 would correct this rights imbalance. It does not swing the rights all the way over one way or the other. It tries to find that balance between the rights of a perpetrator of a crime to privacy and security of the person, but it also protects those who are trying to do good in society.

Bill C-244 protects people's privacy in four ways. A judge is the only individual who can order that a blood sample be taken. It is not a police officer and it is not a paramedic. The blood samples can only be analysed for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. Blood sample results are to be used only for medical treatment purposes and for no other reason. The only people who may have access to the results of the blood test are a peace officer, the medical practitioner, the applicant and the person from whom the sample of blood was taken.

In summary, the blood samples act is about fairness. Presently people do not have the right to know what may have infected their bodies from a third person, and Bill C-244 would correct this.

Second, the blood samples act is about balancing rights. Under the present system only the perpetrator of a crime or the injured or sick person has the right to the security of the person. Bill C-244 would correct this negative situation and make it a balance of rights between both parties.

Third, the blood samples act is about helping everyone involved in this very difficult situation. It is about health care, security professionals of all kinds and good Samaritans. It would also assist the crime suspect carrying a serious virus unknowingly. It is about positive change to our legal system that would provide fairness, a better balance between different rights and assistance for those who are in the service of others.

Tim, Isobel and thousands of other professionals need this bill, this kind of protection, as they go about their work. In the original story of the good Samaritan the only reward was that his name was enshrined in the Bible and he has gone on to become an example of a good Samaritan. Good Samaritan is still in our language today as an example of people who go out of their way to help others when they could have just passed by.

The bill recognizes that those who help the needy in society, health care professionals, and what we commonly call good Samaritans should have the assurance of knowing that when they go about their good work, when they do a good deed, when they help the needy, they will not be penalized and restricted by their knowledge. I ask for support from all sides of the House for the bill.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Erie—Lincoln
Ontario

Liberal

John Maloney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-244, an act to provide for the taking of samples of blood for the benefit of persons administering and enforcing the law and good Samaritans and to amend the criminal code, introduced by the hon. member for Fraser Valley.

The government and all of us in this place are fully aware that some persons in the execution of their duties, which include helping people and even saving human lives, are at risk of being contaminated by the exchange of infected bodily fluids. This is a very sensitive issue.

We appreciate the personal difficulties which these persons who devote their lives to help others may experience. We owe it to these fine Canadians to provide them with a means to regain peace of mind as soon as possible after they have been involved in circumstances that may raise the spectre of contamination. However well meaning, and it is very well meaning, Bill C-244 does not represent the solution to this problem.

The bill is offering to us the creation of legislation that establishes a mechanism for obtaining and executing a search warrant on the human body. Part I of the bill provides that a firefighter, a medical practitioner or a person whose profession is to care for sick people may ask a justice of the peace to issue a warrant authorizing a peace officer to require a qualified medical practitioner or a qualified technician to take samples of blood. These samples would be taken from a person who was assisted by the firefighter or the medical practitioner where there has been contact of body fluid and where the person is suspected of being infected with some disease.

The bill would also cover the situation of an arrest without a warrant by a person other than a peace officer or when a person lawfully assists a police officer. I note in passing that the bill is not clear as to whether health practitioners can be forced to take the sample and, for that matter, whether and how much force can be used to compel the person to submit to the taking of bodily fluids.

The examination of these substances would determine according to the proposed scheme whether the person carried the virus of hepatitis B or hepatitis C or a human autoimmune deficiency virus. In order to issue such a warrant the justice of the peace would have to be satisfied by the person requesting the warrant that four essential elements are present.

First, the justice has to be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant came into contact with a bodily substance from another person while engaged in the performance of his or her functions in relation to that person, or while assisting that person believing that his or her life was in danger or that the person had suffered or was about to suffer physical injury.

Second, the justice may issue a warrant if by reason of the circumstances in which the applicant came into contact with the bodily substance he or she is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe the applicant may have been infected by a virus.

Third, the justice could issue a warrant if he or she believes that by reason of a lengthy incubation period for diseases caused by these viruses and the methods available for ascertaining their presence in the human body an analysis of the applicant's blood would not accurately determine in a timely manner whether the applicant had been infected by such a virus that might have been present in the bodily substances with which the applicant came into contact.

Finally a warrant could be issued if a qualified medical practitioner is of the opinion that the taking of samples of blood from the person mentioned in the warrant would not endanger the life and health of the person.

As we can see the scope of the bill which relates to persons involved in situations where there is an exchange of bodily fluids is remarkably wide. On its face the bill does not apply in cases where an offence is alleged to have been committed but rather in any case where there has been an exchange of bodily fluids.

The bill assumes that no offence has been committed for the power to seek a search warrant. Thus a warrant to obtain a body sample is sought without any offence being committed. Therefore there is no nexus with criminal law.

What criminal law purpose is served by these amendments? Why then are we seeking to amend the criminal code? The search warrants in our law are for the purposes of advancing an investigation of offences. This search warrant is, on the contrary, for the sole purpose of obtaining some information about someone who has not committed any offence. This is an invasion of the privacy of someone, an invasion that is remarkably intrusive, for no reason that would have anything to do with criminal law.

The bill raises important concerns relating to privacy, searches, seizures and human rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The taking of bodily substances always raises significant constitutional issues. The taking of bodily substances without any charges being laid or before conviction raises issues under section 7 on life, liberty and security of the person as well as under section 8 on reasonable search and seizure of our charter of rights and freedoms.

Beyond the legal impediments in pursuing the legislation there are also clear limitations as to what can be accomplished from a scientific standpoint even if a warrant could be obtained. Thus another reason for not supporting the bill is that even if it were possible to adopt this kind legislation its value as an instrument to comfort those who fear they have been affected is certainly less than adequate.

The issue of blood samples was studied in depth in relation to criminal law and in the context of sexual assault. The medical experts are of the opinion that the only way a sexual assault victim can be sure that he or she has not been contaminated is to undergo a test to detect the hepatitis B or C virus, or HIV, following the recommended procedures.

There is a variable period of time between the moment of infection and the capacity of routinely available antibody tests to detect the presence of the antibodies to the virus. Experts in the field refer to that as the window period. Accordingly, relying on the test results could provide false assurances to the victim. For example, a person who would be the object of a search warrant may be tested and the results negative. A peace officer or a firefighter who relies on this information might in fact later test positive if the person tested was in the window period when he or she tested negative.

The issue of blood testing clearly belongs to the domain of health. The Department of Justice is actively working with other departments, in particular Health Canada, to ensure that more is done to provide support and assistance to those who may be concerned about the risk of hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV infection. This is where our efforts should be concentrated. I encourage these departments to continue these efforts on an expedited basis.

I certainly appreciate that the sponsor of the bill means well. I acknowledge him for his initiative in this regard. The use of search warrants to invade privacy where nothing of a criminal natural is even suspected should be of grave concern to the House when, on top of that, the information that may be obtained with such a search warrant is at best of very limited value. One questions what can be usefully achieved by Bill C-244 notwithstanding its good intentions.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Peter Mancini Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, like the previous speakers I too am pleased to speak to this private member's bill. A private member's bill is an important avenue for those of us in the House to put forward issues we think are important. I commend the member for Fraser Valley for bringing forward this piece of legislation, Bill C-244.

He began his remarks by talking about and relating the story of the good Samaritan. I suppose it would have been helpful to us all if we had looked back at that time to see if the good Samaritan had taken the gentleman he found in the ditch to be tested for the plague. Then we would not have had to have this debate today. We might have had some guidance from the Divine.

It is a well intentioned piece of legislation and I commend him for bringing it forward. It raises some important questions about people who partake in the kind of activity envisioned.

When listening to his remarks I became a little concerned, and the government member raised some of my concerns. There is a difference between those who engage in criminal activity and the important examples which he has given of those people who in the execution of their professional duties as crime fighters or peacekeepers have suffered or had cause to be concerned about whether they had been infected with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV.

A great deal of his time was spent referring to the perpetrators of crime. He is right. When someone is committing an offence, should our police forces or security guards not have a right to find out if they have been infected with some kind of disease if in the execution of their duty, which is the protection of society, they encounter some activity that might cause them concern.

Bill C-244 is wider and goes further than that. It does not narrow those affected to those involved in fighting crime and to the perpetrators of crime. The legislation says that a person, not a crime fighter or a police officer, may apply to a justice for a warrant authorizing the taking of a sample of blood from another person who is not necessarily the perpetrator of a crime.

There are numerous examples. We can envisage how wide ranging the legislation would be. For example, it would apply to firefighters who, in the execution of their duties, perhaps saving an individual from a burning building, come into contact with bodily fluid, blood or whatever, and may have cause to wonder if they have been infected in the line of their duty with some disease. The same would apply to health care workers and paramedics. The bill is quite broad. It applies to persons who in their professional capacity may find themselves in that situation.

Like the government member, I wonder if the criminal code is the best way to meet the need that is obviously a real concern for the member and the people engaged in those activities.

I intend to support the legislation to at least get it to committee where it can be examined. However, I wonder if we might better look at labour legislation, because we are talking about the health and safety of individuals engaged in the performance of their professional duties, be they nurses, firefighters, policemen, security guards, prison guards, teachers or people in day care centres help children. We are talking about a wide range of professionals and working people who are faced in 1999 with health and safety concerns that we could not possibly have imagined 25 years ago.

I applaud the intent of the legislation. The purpose of the legislation is good. However, I wonder if working collectively through the committee, members of the Conservative Party, Reform, the Bloc, the NDP and the Liberals might find a better way to ensure that this legislation does what the member wants it to do without running into all kinds of hurdles. Working collectively we may be able to achieve that.

In addition to wondering whether the criminal code is the appropriate piece of legislation, there are certain civil liberties that have been raised by the government speaker.

We may be able to find a way to take the thrust of this legislation out of the criminal code and place it in labour legislation. The government talks about working in tandem with health. I lean toward labour legislation. If we find a way to do that then we may avoid some of the constitutional challenges that could follow as a result of criminal code legislation.

The hon. member in speaking to his bill referred to the perpetrators of crime. However, I remind him, and he obviously knows, that this legislation has a wider ranging.

I am a lawyer and a bit of a wordsmith, and we deal with words all the time. Subclause 3(b) states that a judge can issue a warrant, and it outlines the considerations. Subclause 3(b) goes on to state “by reason of the circumstances in which the applicant came into contact with the bodily substance”. I need to explore that to see exactly what it means. If it is a matter of a criminal code offence, then we know that if, in the execution of his or her duties—and the examples were given by the mover of the legislation—a police officer gets stabbed by a needle or gets bitten, those are compelling circumstances.

However, for a nurse who works in a hospital, in a unit where a number of people suffer from HIV or hepatitis B, are those circumstances sufficiently compelling? No one says, as in some of the criminal cases cited by the member, “I bit you. Now you have HIV” or “I have a score to settle with you and I am going to pierce you with a needle”. How compelling should the circumstances be for the invasion of someone's civil liberties to take a blood sample?

I need some clarification on that. By sending the bill to committee we might very well get some of the clarification that is required.

In summary, there is a serious point raised by the government, and that is the arresting of someone who has not committed a criminal offence. That is a serious matter for us to consider.

In this country one of the things we take pride in is our freedom; freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom from arrest without the reading of rights and without knowing what we have done wrong. That is where the criminal aspect of this is different than applying it to the civil aspect, to those engaged in health and safety occupations where no crime has been committed.

I applaud the intent of the legislation. I think it should have serious examination in committee. There are some real concerns that I see with it, but I think that working together we may be able to iron them out.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Lakeland and I would like to change positions on the order of precedence of our Private Members' Business. He is on for tomorrow and I am about 12 down. Members might recall that my bill is Bill C-206, which is a bill to amend the Access to Information Act. There are about 80 proposed amendments and the bill has all party support from every party in the House. All the backbenchers support it, Mr. Speaker.

But my problem, or our problem, the member for Lakeland and I, is that his position is tomorrow and the rule of Private Members' Business is that there should be 48 hours notice. I would ask the House if I could get unanimous consent to waive the 48 hour rule and replace it with 24 hours notice so that we can make the exchange tomorrow.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington has asked for the consent of the House to exchange his bill with another bill in the order of precedence for Private Members' Business. Is there unanimous consent?

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is rather strange. It is as if nothing had happened last Friday, as if nothing had gone on in this House, as if there had not been a major attack on a subject of great importance for Canada and for Quebec: democracy. They are carrying on as if nothing had happened.

This morning we are discussing Bill C-244, a bill that will never get to be voted on, whereas last Friday we learned that the government over there was preparing to use legislation to gag Quebec completely so that it could not decide its political future. I find that rather strange. It is as if nothing had happened; life goes on as before. That is not how things are in real life.

We are now dealing with Bill C-244 and then we will move on to real business. I will read the title of the bill, and hon. members may understand why I have some hesitations. It is entitled an act to provide for the taking of samples of blood for the benefit of persons administering and enforcing the law—and here is where it gets strange—and good Samaritans and to amend the Criminal Code.

The last time I personally read the words good Samaritan, it was in the Bible. It is rather odd that we are talking of good Samaritans here this morning, when the government opposite is certainly a good example of what a good Samaritan is not.

The title is ambiguous, so I thought the contents would be clearer. There are some definitions that I am familiar with because they are the same as those found in the Criminal Code. There is nothing wrong with that. However, let us look at clause 3:

Obtaining and executing a warrant

  1. A person—

Therefore, I could tell anybody that I want a blood sample taken from them because they came too close to me and I think they have AIDS.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

An hon. member

This is an invasion of privacy.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

It most certainly is an invasion of privacy. I will now resume reading the clause:

  1. A person may apply to a justice for a warrant authorizing the taking of a sample of blood from another person, in order to determine whether that person carries a designated virus, where the applicant believes on reasonable grounds that—

I believe that, yes, he came too close to me. Therefore, by reason the circumstances under which that person came into contact with a bodily substance of the other person, he or she may have been infected by a designated virus.

This bill goes a little bit too far. We are not used to that in a free and democratic society—or at least I think we are in a democratic society despite the government's attack on Quebec with its referendum legislation. This bill goes too far.

We are talking about arresting people without a warrant. We are talking about taking a blood sample from a person. What kind of force will be used to obtain that blood sample? Will we have to tie the person up? Will we use the cane the Reform Party wanted to use on young offenders? Exactly what kind of force will be used? It is an extremely complex process. I read the bill about ten times—and I do not think I am stupid—but it would be rather complicated to enforce. In any case, if I am stupid, there are many people on the other side who also are.

So the process is quite complex, and some of the bill's clauses are extremely difficult to interpret. And, for the first time I am aware of, a person could be required to provide a blood sample even though that person has not been accused of anything and has not committed any offence. This, merely because someone thinks that person may carry the virus and got a little too close to another person.

Just how far are Reformers prepared to go? Do they want to get into people's bedrooms? Whether it is gay or straight people, if someone slept with a person and is upset at that person the next day, will he or she require that spouse or that one night partner to undergo a blood test?

The Reform Party should clarify its views or intentions, because I sincerely think that this would be a violation of fundamental rights.

On the face of it, this bill utterly unacceptable to the Bloc Quebecois. It is not a votable item, so one can say and propose just about anything in the House—our system is rather archaic, in this regard—and, quite often, what is proposed here is meaningless. This proposed legislation is an example of that.

I began by saying that while we are debating this bill, some extremely important events are taking place, and I want to discuss them. It is unacceptable to be discussing such a measure, when last Friday this government inflicted a terrible blow to democracy in Canada and Quebec.

It is getting ready to do it again this week with its much-talked-about bill to prevent Quebecers from making a democratic decision about their political future, and this is unacceptable.

If there is one thing the Liberals have managed to do, it is to unite Quebecers against the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. The Minister of Justice is nodding in agreement. I think she understands what I am saying, because I think she is a democrat. She must not support the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

I am certain that, deep down, this wise woman is on the side of justice. I also think that the entire Liberal government opposite should do some thinking and take a look at what all of Quebec's commentators, journalists and politicians wrote on the weekend and today on this subject. They would see that they are alone on this in Quebec and that they are striking a hard blow to democracy.

In order to give them the time to do a bit of reading and thinking, pursuant to Standing Order 60, I move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland

All those in favour will please say yea.

Blood Samples Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.