House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

Assisted Human Reproduction Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am like so many in the House on this legislation. There is so much of it that I do support and I want to see it go forward. However there are other aspects of it that about which I am genuinely uneasy.

Part of the problem with legislation like this is it does go to the health committee. As other speakers have noted, there has been quite a full debate in the health committee and many difficult issues have been raised, particularly in the context of embryonic cell research. The problem is however good the debate in committee, the debate does not get into this House.

Every one of us are charged with many other tasks as MPs and it is difficult for us to find the time to look up the Hansards of the deliberations that were carried on in committee on legislation like this, and well we should. Every one of us has a duty to be thoroughly informed on the issues that surround legislation, that is, historic legislation, legislation that heralds the dawn of a new age and that heralds the dawn of a new age that may have many dark aspects.

I find myself inclined toward finding a way in which to use stem cells, non-embryonic stem cells would be preferable. However I also feel that if it is a matter of saving lives, then embryonic stem cells, which would be destroyed anyway, ought to be used in research, always on the assumption that these embryonic stem cells would not be deliberately produced for research, because I would find that absolutely reprehensible.

There is no doubt that there are diseases out there on which the clock is ticking. Parkinson's, for example, is a disease that there is some suggestion could be addressed by stem cell research. If embryonic stem cell research speeds up a solution for Parkinson's, then I would be one who would want to see it happen because it is very close to me. Both in my family and in my community people are suffering from Parkinson's and one's heart goes to them. One wants to help. There are many other diseases to which hope is offered if there is success in stem cell research.

I would make the distinction only that I would support embryonic stem cell research only if there were a reasonable possibility, not probability, a reasonable possibility that embryonic stem cell research could shorten the time to bring cures to the people who are suffering.

Having said that, I take the point of earlier speakers that the bill could have been divided because there are other aspects of the bill, which are not contentious at this point in time at any rate, that we ought to address and address rapidly, and I point to the provisions with respect to cloning.

I can remember when I was in my teenage years being fascinated by the science fiction literature at the time. This would be the 1960s. There was a lot of science fiction literature at that time. The prospect of something like cloning the human being came up in fiction from time to time. I well remember the idea they put forward in fiction, that this would be a way to create people who would never die; that is, create perpetual life.

What they basically would do is take an individual and by cloning they could create indefinite copies of an individual. All they would have to do, in the science fiction of the day, is take that, reproduce its physical body, implant in it the same memories and functions, possibly by a sophisticated computer, and they would get replication of, and I hate to say this, some of my political opponents indefinitely.

Imagine, Mr. Speaker, and I am sorry to take a serious subject and divert for a moment, I look at my friends across the aisle and the prospect of them carrying on for a hundred years or so in their seats, always in opposition, is a prospect that is truly daunting. However I digress.

To be more serious, the reality is the prospect of everlasting life through human cloning is actually a possibility in the age in which we are now. We have already started the process in the cloning of animals and the possibility of cloning human beings and having the computer technology which could actually collect and recreate that human being intellectually, perhaps that technology is to come only in the next 20 or 30 years, is before us now. We have to act now and assert what we feel about mortality.

I do not want to get into religious arguments or religious debates here, but I would argue that there is good reason why men and women were created mortal. It is not something with which I would want to see interfered. This is the type of issue on which the House should express itself.

I would have been in favour of dividing the bill and dealing expeditiously with this type of aspect of the bill. I think a the majority of Canadians who may not be associated with any religion, Canadians who may be very agnostic, would all agree that the prospect of cloning human beings is a frightening prospect and it is something certainly that we should try to prevent for as long as possible.

However let me come back to the embryonic research. I think that is terribly important. I would have hoped that this House could have set aside the time to analyze it fully, to set maybe several days aside where we could have had that debate because it is so vital to clarify and to decide whether we are prepared to set aside all embryonic stem cell research for moral reasons, if you will, and moral reasons are fine. Many Canadians react that way for moral reasons and we have to respect that. However there is this other side of it. No matter how strong one's morals, if lives can be saved, then we need to have that debate and we have to find that balance.

This is what Parliament is all about always in this House is that we have to deal with difficult issues and strike balances. We have had anti-terrorism legislation here just recently which is anathema to the vision that Canadians have of themselves. Yet we were forced, because of the world situation, to bring in measures that were unthinkable 10 years ago or only three years ago. I think this House tried very hard to strike a balance, and as a matter of fact I think we did it better than any other nation, a balance between new security provisions and retaining as best we could the liberties and the privacies that we hold so dear.

The issue on embryonic stem cell research is exactly the same type of thing. The House has to make a decision and it is a very difficult decision. I would have liked to have had more time myself to read everything that was said before the health committee and then come to this House in a debate and hear other members who have done the same thing, not the members of the health committee, other members who have the concerns as were expressed by all members of the health committee and have a real debate here, then come to a conclusion by a vote in this House on this specific question of embryonic stem cell research. Right now, quite frankly, I think I would vote in support of it. However maybe after the debate I would vote against it. I do not know but a lot more debate would have been appropriate.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a very controversial subject across our land. It is probably third only to the recent bills that we have seen go through this place, one on the question of marriage and the other being Bill C-250. There are hundreds of people who have written who are concerned about Bill C-13. They are concerned about the view that this Parliament would reflect on humanity itself, the value of life and the dignity of life if we embark upon some of the measures provided for in this legislation.

Someone has said that this is not an issue of religion or conscience. I would suggest it really is an issue of conscience whether one is religious or not. I was reminded of that remark recently in the United States when we heard of someone who was fined something like $25,000 for destroying an eagle's egg. I am remembering the burrowing owls that we have in Canada and the endangered species legislation that we are looking at where people could be fined for even destroying the habitat or the nesting grounds of species in this country.

Would we punish them for destroying an egg of a bird or the burrow of an owl? Would we punish them for that and say it was sacrilegious to destroy them, or are we being religious for passing laws to protect endangered species? No one accuses us of being religious for doing that. Why would they want to accuse us of being overly religious for passing laws to protect the dignity and the safety of the human race?

Our party supports a number of aspects of the bill. We support the bans on reproductive and therapeutic cloning, the bans on animal and human hybrids, the bans on sex selection and the bans on buying and selling embryos. We recognize that these are the good aspects of the bill. As so often is the case, we get caught between a rock and a hard place when we deal with legislation. So often, there are parts of a bill that are good, as are these points that I have mentioned in this bill, and then there are parts that are weak or bad and cause us to have to violate our conscience to support that part of the legislation.

With regard to cloning, the Canadian Alliance opposes human cloning as we believe it is an affront to human dignity, individuality and rights. We have spoken often and for a long time against human cloning. We have been urging the federal government to take a stand and bring in legislation. It has been over 10 years since the report first came out that we should deal with these kinds of things. The Liberals have put it off and waited. It is my understanding that some companies in Canada announced recently that they were tired of waiting and that they were going to go ahead with some of this research. It is a shame that we have waited this long to deal with these kinds of issues.

The practices that are still allowed in this bill are not acceptable to some of us. The bill does say that the health and well-being of children born through assisted human reproduction must be given a priority. We believe in that and we believe in it very strongly. In fact, the health committee itself in its meetings came up with a ranking of the interests that should be made around this bill.

First of all, it said children born through assisted human reproduction should have priority in the decision making; second, adults participating in that procedure; and third, the researchers and physicians who conduct AHR research. They did not mention it, but I guess fourth would be the society in general that would benefit from anything that came out of this kind of research.

Even though children are mentioned as the ones who are to be considered first when we talk about these procedures, we have a way of saying something and then quickly forgetting what it really means. In the bill, children born through donor insemination or from donor eggs are not given the right to know the identity of their biological parents. How can we say that we are considering the needs of the children first when we refuse to even allow them to find out the identify of their biological parents?

In this day and age we know there are many cases where it is very valuable information medically to have a knowledge of who one's parents really are, where they came from, what were the diseases they had, what were their traits and characteristics. We do not allow for that in the bill.

The bill does not provide an acknowledgement of human dignity or respect for human life. The government makes some statements that are sort of related but it refuses to make a statement about the dignity or the sanctity of human life. The bill is intimately connected with the creation of human life, human life that will in its end be used strictly for research.

The minority report recommended that the final legislation would recognize the human embryo as human life and that the statutory declaration include the phrase “respect for human life”. I heard already this morning in this debate that the human embryo is not human life. Is it life at all? I think it can be proven scientifically that it is life. The cells are already beginning divide. It is growing and only living things grow. Certainly we must know that it is human. It is not another kind of animal. It is not a plant. It is not a vegetable. It is in fact a human life.

The bill also allows for experiments using human embryos under four conditions. Only in vitro embryos left over can be used. Written permission must be given by the donor. It does not say donors, it just says donor. We believe that every human embryo by scientific evidence would have to have two donors and not just one. There should be the recognition of both donors in this case and that both donors should give permission and not just one. The bill also allows for research on human embryos if the use is necessary. Necessary is undefined. In vitro fertilization requires the creation of human embryos and the bill says it is only as many as are necessary, but when the end comes, when the implantation is made I think we will find that many embryos have been destroyed that were not necessary and unused only to speed up the process. We are in such a hurry to see things happen. We cannot wait to see one or two eggs fertilized at a time so that a couple can bear children.

Sometimes we forget that Bill C-13 would allow the creation of embryos for reproductive research. Canadian law will now legitimize the view that human life can be created solely for the benefit of others and sacrificed in the name of research.

I come back to the fact that the human embryo is life. Whether it is a senior adult, a young adult, a child, a baby, a fetus or an embryo, I must conclude that it is human life.

I will close by quoting Suzanne Scorsone, a former member of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, who said “The human embryo is a human individual with a complete personal genome, and should be a subject of research only for its own benefit”. She also said that many people hold to the idea that to destroy the embryo or utilize it as industrial raw material is damaging and dehumanizing not only to that embryo but to all of human society.

I maintain that that is the right position.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

York South—Weston
Ontario

Liberal

Alan Tonks Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the bill. Initially when the bill was considered, the concern was raised with respect to the ethics of destroying human embryos to harvest stem cells for research. The issues have broadened somewhat from that initial concern and I would like to outline a few that members of the House have mentioned before but which I think are very important to put on the record again.

Despite the fact that Health Canada has already corrected one error in the definition of human clone, the bill still does not ban all known forms and techniques of human cloning. This is probably the essence of many of the ethical concerns that members from all sides of the House have talked about. There were numerous discussions at committee. Non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups and people from the scientific and health communities all expressed concern with respect to this shortcoming in the bill.

The bill permits the implanting of human reproductive material into non-human life forms. The biomedical definition of chimera involves the implantation of reproductive material from a human into an animal, or from an animal into a human. However, the definition in the bill only refers to the latter.

These are two fundamental aspects that I think members of the House are concerned about. On behalf of those on all sides, I want to put on the record that the bill is short with respect to those. Hopefully, it could be expanded upon at some future time.

World Teachers' Day
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, to teach is to open doors to a better world; in French, enseigner ouvre les portes vers un monde meilleur. This is the theme chosen for this year's World Teachers' Day on October 5.

Without teachers, education would not be what it is meant to be. Teachers transmit information, but teachers do so much more. Teachers inspire. Teachers guide students in developing values that are essential to peace, tolerance, respect and understanding. Teachers assist in developing essential life and social skills, trust, confidence, critical thinking and self-esteem. Teachers can be catalysts for creative, productive, successful lives.

Let us remember with thanks on October 5 and throughout the year the magnificent contribution of teachers everywhere. Let us celebrate together la Journée mondiale des enseignants, World Teachers' Day.

Citizenship and Immigration
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is bungling yet another registry. It seriously underestimated the task. Many landed immigrants are unaware of new requirements that they must have a permanent resident card to re-enter Canada after December 31.

Meanwhile, I have constituents who applied this spring and who have not yet received their card. I say good luck in applying now.

People are booking winter holidays with departure in December and return in January. Others will need to travel for family emergencies. They will not be eligible to return and many do not know it. They will have to find an embassy to obtain an entry visa, which could be a tall order.

Those who have applied cannot determine the status of their application. MPs' offices are in the same boat, as e-mails go unanswered and the telephone is essentially non-functional. This needs to be fixed today.

Yom Kippur
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday around the world Jews will celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This day of contemplation and reflection is the most important day of the Jewish calendar.

Starting this Sunday night, until sundown on Monday night, Jews around the world will fast and reflect on this year's past actions and ask forgiveness for their failings.

Some also use this day to commemorate the devastating events of Kristallnacht, which occurred on the evening of November 9, 1938, the evening of Yom Kippur, when anti-Jewish riots swept through Germany and Austria, destroying many Jewish businesses and synagogues.

On this day of prayer, on behalf of my colleagues in the House, I wish all Canadians of Jewish faith an easy fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur.

Marathon Victory
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to rise in tribute to a remarkable 93 year old marathon runner named Fauja Singh.

A retired farmer originally from the province of Punjab in India, he became the first person in the world in his age class to break the six hour barrier at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on September 28. He had a time of five hours, forty minutes and four seconds.

When he was young, he ran cross-country in his native India. Then, at age 36, he retired from running. A lifetime later, with four children, thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, he returned to his first love: running marathons.

This man's latest achievement in Toronto stands as a source of inspiration for people across Canada and around the globe. I would therefore urge all my colleagues to join me in wishing him continued success.

National Capital Commission
Statements By Members

October 3rd, 2003 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with pleasure that I participated yesterday in making an important announcement concerning my riding of Hull-Aylmer, in conjunction with the National Capital Commission.

The NCC concluded an agreement with Weston Inc. to acquire property on the north shore of the Ottawa River, which is currently home to Scott Paper operations. The NCC considers this site as a part of its long-term strategy for the core area of Canada's capital region. I have reason to believe that jobs will be preserved for at least 25 years and hope that Scott Paper will be able to relocate within the Outaouais region.

Our society is evolving and, over the next 25 years, the use of the riverfront where the Scott Paper plant is located will be changing. These industrial lands will be transformed to give all Canadians unique access to this site with its rich history and remarkable beauty.

Thank you to Weston Inc., to the NCC and its chairman, and to the Government of Canada.

Arts and Culture
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, last month in Los Angeles, Charles Porlier of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, in my riding, was presented with an Emmy award for outstanding makeup on the TNT made for television movie Door to Door .

Charles received a second Emmy nomination for his work in the Spielberg DreamWorks mini-series Taken , as well as two nominations for the Canadian Network of Makeup awards to be held in Toronto next month.

He earned his first Emmy in 1996 for the TNT production of Kissinger and Nixon . His box office credits include key makeup effects artist on X-Men 2 and The Santa Clause 2 .

With over 25 years of experience as a makeup artist, Charles is also head of makeup design at the Vancouver Film School. He said recently that the 1960s television series Planet of the Apes sparked his interest in pursuing makeup artistry.

On behalf of the citizens of Dewdney--Alouette and all members of the House, I would like to wish Charles Porlier good luck in Toronto next month and congratulate him on his outstanding achievement at the Emmys.

Canadian Women's Soccer Team
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, having played at lot of soccer in my youth, it was with great interest that I followed the amazing development of international women's soccer as well as its characteristic enthusiasm and fair play, which are truly an inspiration.

Last night, the Canadian women's soccer team won a historic victory against China. This is the first time our national team has made it to the semi-final of the World Cup.

It is truly an amazing feat for our young Canadian women to have reached a level of achievement so close to the summit of women's international soccer.

Canada will be playing Sweden in the semi-final on Sunday. I am sure all members of the House will join with me in wishing our Cinderella team Godspeed and the continuation of their inspiring international adventure. Go, Canada, go.

War on Drug Traffickers
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, five years ago, farm families were living daily with threats from cannabis growers who had taken over fields in the region. Along with other stakeholders, I decided to set up an Infocrime citizens committee in order to break the wall of silence that had grown up during this reign of terror.

Thanks to the determination of individuals like Raymonde Rivard, chair of the school board and co-chair of the Infocrime committee, Sylvain Michon, a farmer, and Claude Denis of the Sûreté du Québec, along with the municipalities and the media, such as Le Courrier in Saint-Hyacinthe and Boom FM, we are now seeing a definite improvement.

Unfortunately, the situation is not as good in all regions and that is why I have asked the Quebec minister of public safety to set up a commission of inquiry in order to get an overall picture of the situation and develop the tools we need to continue the fight.

I would like to point out, however, that the most powerful tool we have in standing up to organized crime is having citizens take responsibility for the future of their community. Do not give up the fight.

Government of Ontario
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Carmen Provenzano Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been 67 years since a Liberal was elected to represent my riding of Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario legislature. Yesterday history was made in Sault Ste. Marie when David Orazietti, the Liberal candidate, won a decisive victory over his NDP rival.

I wish to offer my congratulations to David Orazietti, the new MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, and Dalton McGuinty, our new premier, and to the Ontario Liberal Party for these landslide victories. The citizens of the Soo and across Ontario have chosen change. They have chosen a path to better health care and better education. In Sault Ste. Marie they have rejected the politics of negativism and fear.

I look forward with enthusiasm to working with David Orazietti, Dalton McGuinty and our new Liberal government for the betterment of our province and particularly for the betterment of our fine community of Sault Ste. Marie.

Immigration and Refugee Board
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we review a blockbuster Liberal movie. The hero: Yves Berthiaume, veteran Crown prosecutor. He has RCMP evidence that an IRB judge has been taking bribes from organized crime. It turns out the IRB judge is a Liberal cabinet appointee with political ties to the Treasury Board minister.

Enter Mario Bilodeau from the Quebec justice department. He is also a former defence lawyer for organized crime figures. To everyone's shock, he commands our hero to reduce the charge against the IRB judge. Our prosecutor hero resigns, in outrage and disbelief.

The plot thickens. If the IRB judge pleads guilty to the lesser charge, some very interesting wiretap conversations will never come out in court.

Who is the real villain in the movie? Who is behind this corrupt cover-up? Keep watching, folks. We are sure to see more episodes of scandal from these Liberals.

World Forestry Congress
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Gilbert Barrette Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, Natural Resources Canada is proud to have been the lead federal department hosting the UN-FAO 12th World Forestry Congress last week in Quebec City.

The Congress is much more than a forum for Canada to demonstrate its leadership in sustainable forest management.

For some 4,000 delegates from all parts of the globe, who travelled to Quebec City for the Congress, it was an opportunity to form new partnerships, share information, and learn about the advances being made here and elsewhere in forest practices and research. Some dynamic highlights of Canada's progress were on display at the visually striking and interactive Canada Pavilion.

Canadians can be proud of our leadership in sustainable forest management which has been readily apparent to World Forestry Congress delegates. I encourage all Canadians to learn more about Canada's leadership in sustainable—

World Forestry Congress
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for South Shore.