Assisted Human Reproduction Act

An Act respecting assisted human reproduction

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.


Anne McLellan  Liberal


Not active, as of Nov. 7, 2003
(This bill did not become law.)


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2003 / 12:55 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Canadian Alliance Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, during the last session I had the opportunity to address the House on what was then Bill C-56. Now I have the opportunity to continue to address this important piece of legislation which is now Bill C-13.

The number of the legislation has changed, but the concerns have not changed. Given that the legislation, when enacted, will govern human biological technology development for perhaps the next 50 years, the government's lack of care, caution and ethical integrity is both astounding and frightening. We know that the legislation goes right to the heart of the issue of what it means to be a human being and the relation of a human being to the state.

It is arguably the most important piece of legislation the House will ever deal with. Members of the official opposition have been mindful of this fact and I would like to acknowledge their hard work, especially on the health committee, in this regard.

The notion of what it means to be a human being sounds quite lofty and academic, but let us accept the fact that the bill is about children, about how people can be assisted in conceiving and having healthy children and about ensuring ethical technology around this important endeavour.

I last spoke about the issue of using adult stem cell research instead of the ethical minefield of embryonic stem cell research. The official opposition supports the bill's ban on cloning. We also support the ban on commercial surrogacy. However, this time I would like to keep my address to just two other important issues, first, the issue of the agency created by the bill and second, the identity of the rights of children born of such technologies. Indeed, the creation and responsibilities of the agency take up half the text of the bill itself and the identity rights of children created through these technologies is given precious little consideration.

The official opposition supports the creation of an agency to oversee any technology related to the assisting of people having healthy children. However there are problems with the relationship of the agency, parliamentarians and the public at large, just to name a few.

There are no provisions in the bill for regular reports by the agency to Parliament, but the agency itself will not be independent. Just like a government department, it will write its own performance evaluation. We know that many of the regular governmental department performance reports are rarely worth very much.

Another problem is that a minister of the crown can at any time give an order to affect any of the agency's powers. This is despite the fact that regulations must be laid before Parliament and can be referred to committee. This is not accountability; it is another expansion of ministerial power and the diminishment of accountability to Parliament.

Another problem is that the configuration of the agency falls under orders in council. That is a problem. We have all the usual concerns regarding this type of governance. Experience has taught us that the government does not have a stellar reputation in this regard.

What will be the ethical framework of the board of directors and the president of the agency? We know their mandate is to foster the application of ethical principles in relation to assisted human reproduction. I have no doubt that they will be scientifically and legally well informed individuals, but how much confidence will the public have if the appointments for such issues as life and death are made by orders in council? My guess is that ethicists will be add-ons to the list of what we call experts and stakeholders. The ethicists' role is crucial, but the government would be hard pressed to recognize an ethicist even if it fell over one. It is a telling sign of the times that we even have ethicists on call to help us with these complex issues.

It is lamentable that we cry “Canadian values”, and then fail miserably sorting out good and evil, necessary and unnecessary, and conflict of interest. What was once understood and recognized as being right and true has deteriorated into a collision of group rights versus individual autonomy. Ethics are based on longstanding tried and true principles, not on day to day polls on human values. It is no less true in the legislation.

We also demanded that any recommendations by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health should be considered seriously by the health minister. We know that the government likes to put most issues of process and accountability out of the reach of parliamentarians and the public through the creation of a myriad of bureaucratic regulations. However, the official opposition demanded that any regulations affecting the health of unborn children be referred to the health committee.

Regulations are only as good as they are achieved by consensus. That consensus includes the Canadian people through their elected representatives. Such consensus cannot be achieved in the dark by ministerial fiat.

These demands from the official opposition in no way undermine the research and science on this issue. The official opposition always supports the goal of health and well-being for Canadians.

As for the rights of the children conceived by the assistance of sex technologies, the goal is still healthy children, remembering that we have come a long way in the medical advancements for physical well-being of children. However, it has always been my contention that the bill does not deal with that other part of our lives that is so important to us. That is our identity.

Life is more than just physical well-being. It is important that the environment for children is both safe and loving and that the parents of children born through these technologies receive the best care in part because of the great effort taken to have them created. However, there is something more. It is our human connectedness to the past.

Many adoptive parents in Canada go a long way to ensure that their children know their heritage if it is different from the non-biological parents. Why do they do that? Because they realize the importance of culture and history as well as the biological roots.

We have whole sections of our society stratified according to their birth and heritage in order for certain rights and privileges. Whole government departments are dedicated to a section of our society because we recognize the importance of history.

Genetic and biological parental identity apparently is important to the government for particular groups of people, such as the aboriginal community, but for anyone with the assistance of this technology, the identity of the biological parents is not allowed to be considered as important. This bizarre and inconsistent policy, I believe, amounts to the commodification not of the child but instead the donors of sperm and ovum.

Sperm and ovum are called reproductive material in the bill. Yes, this material is the constituent entity of the continuation of human life, but we know and celebrate that human life is also the intricate web of relationships, cultures and histories.

We cannot nor do we want to escape the physical reality that there is a mother and a father to every human being who walks this earth. Children conceived by these technologies should have the opportunity to know who their mother and father are.

This is why we on this side of the House do not agree with the anonymity of human reproductive material. Anonymity degrades and commodifies such natural material. In fact, the United Nations recognizes the right for all children to know their biological identity and yes, that means the identity of the mother and the father, whether through birth or what they call “other status”. If the traditional adoptive processes of this nation are starting to recognize the importance of identity, why does this legislation not?

Donating sperm and ovum is not the same as handing over a child. The psychological impact of the two cannot be compared. Donations of human reproductive materials can result in hundreds of children with similar genetic heritage.

I am sure that members from all parties would agree with the United Nations on this particular issue of the right to identity for all human beings. Anonymity should not be an option. The fear is that the supply of donors will decrease dramatically.

Yes, we will no longer get university medical students or will we get donors of sperm compliments of the U.S. prison system. Instead we will get more mature adults who understand the plight of those wishing for a healthy child. The motivation is on completely different grounds. Sweden and New Zealand have both moved to a known donor system. We know that it can be done.

This biological material is not like a pint of blood or a kidney or a heart that means life to a patient. We are all somebody's child and so should those be who are conceived through this technology.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2003 / 12:45 p.m.
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Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to speak to third reading of Bill C-13, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. At the outset, I want to indicate that the Bloc Quebecois intends to vote against the bill. Our Liberal friends opposite are experts at confusing the public and twisting the policies put forward by other parties and the way their opponents vote.

First, for the record and for those who are watching us, I want to make one thing clear. The Bloc Quebecois does support a ban on cloning. However, we will oppose the bill in its present form, unless the government agrees to split it.

My hon. colleague from Hochelaga—Maisonneuve moved in committee to split the bill. The provisions concerning paid surrogacy and cloning would have been dealt in one bill. We would then have been able to support a ban on cloning and paid surrogacy and to forget about creating a new Canada-wide agency to control the operations of infertility clinics throughout Canada.

This is why we intend to oppose the bill if it is not amended. However, people should not try to interpret our opposition as meaning that we agree with human cloning. I wanted to put things in perspective from the outset.

As I was saying earlier, the bill would create a pan-Canadian agency to control fertility practices across the country. We consider that all this is strictly within the provincial governments' jurisdiction. This is another example of the type of federalism that is advocated and preached by the Liberal Party of Canada. This really is riding roughshod over provincial jurisdictions.

The members of the Bloc are sovereignists. There is no ambiguity there. We want to tell this government that the way it is acting only serves to confirm and reinforce the reasons for which Quebec should get out of the Canadian federation. Quite simply, the federal government is not content to stick to its own areas of jurisdictions, as they were set out in the Constitution Act, 1867, when Canada was born. The Bloc Quebecois members consider that this pact does not work any more. This is why we believe that the best way to get rid of this constitutional agreement is for Quebec to achieve sovereignty. We will then be able to take all of our responsibilities and to do as we see fit, as everything will then truly be under Quebec's jurisdiction.

This government is once again riding roughshod over provincial jurisdictions. This is why we cannot support this bill.

I believe that today's discussions on this bill are a clear illustration of what my colleague, the hon. member for Trois-Rivières, has presented in his motion, which will be voted on later this week, during private members' business.

That motion deplores this government's flagrant intrusion into areas that are under the jurisdiction of Quebec, which is the reason we say, and I repeat, that sovereignty is the way to put an end to this.

I believe the very eloquent speech of my colleague from Trois-Rivières, and those of the other colleagues who have spoken on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, clearly illustrate what is going on. Bill C-13 provides us with evidence of just how justified the motion introduced by my colleague for Trois-Rivières is.

As reinforcement of the Bloc Quebecois position, on Tuesday October 7, Quebec health minister Philippe Couillard confirmed his opposition to the controversial Bill C-13, because he felt—and still does—that it is clear interference into Quebec's jurisdiction.

I do not know if people will agree with me. Perhaps the Quebec health minister is re-examining his political career. This reputed neurosurgeon may be rethinking his federalist allegiance, since he is a member of the Liberal Party of Quebec, a federalist party, and the party that has formed the Government of Quebec legitimately elected by the majority of the population since April 13, 2003. So, we must acknowledge that the Liberal Party of Quebec constitutes the Government of Quebec. Yet, its Minister of Health has made clear his opposition to Bill C-13, because he considers it an encroachment on areas that fall under the jurisdiction of Quebec. As it happens, he objects to precisely the same provision that we in the Bloc Quebecois find problematic: the creation of this Canada-wide super-agency, which would administer, regulate and control practices in all fertility clinics across Canada.

For all these reasons, we in the Bloc Quebecois must pursue our efforts and representations. Perhaps the members of the Liberal majority will eventually see the light. Perhaps they could reconsider and just withdraw Bill C-13 or not go ahead with it.

Now that the member for LaSalle—Émard is firmly in the saddle, even though he has yet to be chosen at a convention, and that he is clearly in control of the legislative agenda, there are rumours of an adjournment on November 7. All one has to do is look at how long we are taking to debate in this place matters that could be resolved much faster.

The government is drawing things out. It does not have an agenda. It is keeping members busy at committee with various tasks that are not necessarily useful, while we would like to know what direction this government wants to take and what the position of the member for LaSalle—Émard, the phantom leader of the Liberal Party is. Witness the fact that he is never in the House, he is never here to answer questions. The member for Saint-Maurice, the current Prime Minister, is answering the questions while the other one is pulling the strings, with his informal cabinet meetings, and his informal pizza lunches. In reality, he is the one pulling all the strings.

We saw it last week, with respect to the high-speed train in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. The henchmen, the Pontius Pilates of the member for LaSalle—Émard, used that issue to literally trash and question this government's commitment to invest $700 million in a high-speed train project.

And this is happening constantly. I think the government should show its true colours and withdraw Bill C-13. At any rate, we will be voting against it.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2003 / 12:40 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-13, the government's ill-conceived blanket legislation regarding reproductive technologies and human embryo research, two very distinct and very important issues rolled into one piece of legislation.

With regard to reproductive technologies, there are some positive elements to the legislation, including the fact that it addresses bans on reproductive or therapeutic cloning, chimera animal-human hybrids, sex selections, germ line altercation and the buying and selling of embryos.

Cloning is of particular concern to constituents in my riding. I have received numerous letters, postcards and petitions from residents asking Parliament to pass legislation that would stave off the potential threat of cloning research in Canada. They feel it is an affront to human dignity, rights and morality.

Research on embryonic human stem cells requires the destruction, the death, of the embryo. So far no disease has been cured or alleviated as a result of this research or the use of embryonic stem cells, despite early hopes that such therapies might be helpful for patients suffering neurological diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

In contrast, use of adult stem cells is a far more acceptable option to many people, and research suggests using adult stem cells may even be a favourable option.

Dr. Helen Hodges, a British researcher, has said that adult stem cells may be safer and more flexible than fetal cells. According to Hodges, some of the work she has done indicates adult stem cells travel to the area needing repair, whereas embryonic stem cells remain where they are injected.

Hodges also notes that because adult patients can donate their own stem cells for treatment, the cells are not treated as foreign objects by the body's immune system and rejected.

Other published research suggests adult stem cells are able to develop into a greater variety of different tissues than embryonic stem cells and are favourable because they are more readily available.

Earlier this year, writer Wesley J. Smith highlighted the story that appeared in the New York Times of a teenager whose heart had been pierced with a three-inch nail, causing him to have a serious heart attack. The teen was selected to take part in a clinical trial using adult stem cells to repair damaged hearts. A special protocol was developed and after extracting stem cells from the young man's blood they were injected into the coronary artery that supplies blood to the heart. A few days later the teen's doctor noted an incredible improvement in his heart function.

While not yet common, cases such as that one are far from isolated and are giving researchers hope for the potential of adult stem cell treatments.

As Smith noted in his article:

Money spent on embryonic-stem-cell research and human cloning is money that cannot be spent on [investigating] adult stem cells.

A new era appears to be dawning in which our own cells will be the sources of very potent medicine. Rather than having to choose between morality and the wonders of regenerative medicine, it increasingly looks like we can have both.

On behalf of my constituents, I have to voice the concerns my party and I have about the use of embryonic research, particularly when a viable alternative such as the use of adult stem cells looks so promising.

Bill C-13 would allow for the creation of embryos, especially for reproductive research. If put into law, this would legitimize the view that human life can be created solely for the benefit of others.

Embryonic stem cell research inevitably results in the death of an embryo, early human life. It is a scientific fact that an embryo is early life. The complete DNA of an adult human is present at the embryo stage. For many Canadians, this violates the ethical commitment to respect human dignity, integrity and life.

Embryonic research also constitutes an objectification of human life, where life becomes a tool that can be manipulated and destroyed for other, even ethical, ends.

Adult stem cells are a safe, proven alternative to embryonic stem cells. Sources of adult stem cells include the umbilical cord, blood, skin tissue and bone tissue. In fact just this weekend the headlines in our local paper, the StarPhoenix , indicated that the umbilical cord has saved the life of one of our young children.

Adult stem cells are easily accessible. They are not subject to immune rejection and they pose minimal ethical concerns.

Embryonic stem cell transplants are subject to immune rejection because they are foreign tissues, while adult stem cells used for transplants are typically taken from one's own body.

Adult stem cells are being used today in the treatment of Parkinson's, leukemia, MS and other conditions. Embryonic stem cells have not been used in the successful treatment of a single person. Research, resources and efforts should be focused on this more promising and proven alternative.

The bill specifies that the consent of the donor to a human embryo is required in order to use a human embryo for experiment. The bill leaves it to regulations to define donor, note the singularity of the term donor, but it is vital to remember that there are two donors to every human embryo: a woman and a man. Both donors, parents, should be required to give written consent for the use of a human embryo, not just one.

I have only just touched on some of the complex elements of the bill. The issues I have highlighted are the ones that are of the most concern to my constituents, and I am pleased to bring those concerns to the House.

Residents and organizations in my riding have expressed, categorically, opposition to the embryonic stem cell research. I have heard from my own constituents and from across the province, but specifically from towns, villages and the city of Saskatoon in my riding.

Residents and constituents from the towns of Allan, Bladworth, Bradwell, Burr, Colonsay, Elbow, Hanley, my own community of Kenaston, Lanigan, Loreburn, Outlook, Strongfield, Viscount and Watrous, including Young, all want to send a clear message. They do not want the killing of embryonic humans for the purposes of stem cell research. They believe this is immoral, unethical and unacceptable.

I ask that when it comes time to vote on this bill that my colleagues in the House will keep in mind the concerns of constituents from my riding and from across the country.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2003 / 12:30 p.m.
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Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today, at third reading stage of the bill on assisted human reproductive technologies, to draw the attention of the hon. members of this House to a common occurrence in this Parliament.

We saw it this morning, during private members' business, when we debated a motion about intrusion in Quebec's jurisdictions, which was put forward by the hon. member for Trois-Rivières. This is a case in point.

The assisted human reproduction bill was introduced a long time ago, and has been before this House for a very long time. It dates back to even before the April 14, 2003 election in Quebec. At the time, Quebec was opposed. Federalist members in this place may think that there was opposition because there was sovereignist government in Quebec City, but it is not so.

The new Government of Quebec, a federalist government led by Mr. Charest, and the health minister, Mr. Couillard, have spoken out against this bill. They did not address the substance, but wondered whether this was not a systematic encroachment on an area of provincial responsibility.

Therefore, the Bloc Quebecois cannot support such a motion. The current federalist Government of Quebec will not support such a bill either, and does not want it passed.

I remind the hon. members that Bill C-13 on assisted reproduction will make human cloning a criminal offence. That is not a problem, since the Criminal Code falls under federal jurisdiction. We therefore support this notion. The same is true of the ban on paid surrogacy.

The Bloc Quebecois, the Government of Quebec and all parties in the National Assembly of Quebec all agree, however, when it comes to the establishment of a Canadian agency to monitor the practices used by fertility clinics across the country. That is what the Quebec health minister, Mr. Couillard, is opposed to.

It is important for people to realize that the government is putting legislation through in an area over which it has, for a large part, no jurisdiction. In this respect, the Bloc Quebecois proposed that the bill be split, to ensure that federal jurisdiction was clearly defined, and that we would be voting on the matters of federal jurisdiction. As for the part that is more specifically a provincial jurisdiction, we should leave it to the provinces to look after it.

It was reported in Le Devoir that:

The position taken by the Charest government makes it even more unlikely that this very controversial bill will be passed in the House of Commons over the next few days.

Quebec understands what is going on here. When the Government of Quebec speaks out against the fact that the federal government is encroaching upon its jurisdiction, it is totally normal for Quebeckers to be united in seeking justice.

We often see this type of behaviour on the part of the federal government. We saw it with young offenders and with the millennium scholarships. Bills that interfere in Quebec's jurisdictions are being rammed through the House, which makes it obvious that this government does not believe in co-operative federalism.

Today, we know that the Government of Quebec, a federalist government headed by Jean Charest, is against this bill. It wants everything that comes under provincial jurisdiction to be removed from the bill. So why would the federal government not take the time to re-examine its bill and remove from it all aspects that are not under its jurisdiction, so as to respect the consensus that exists in Quebec?

We also know that members of the Alliance and a number of pro-life Liberal members are opposed to this bill. More specifically, they are opposed to the use of human embryos for stem cell research. This is not the thrust of the debate in which I am taking part this morning. Indeed, it is an area that needs to be regulated, but it must always be done with respect for provincial jurisdictions.

In fact, the Quebec health minister, Mr. Couillard, said that if the bill were defeated or died on the order paper, he firmly intended to deal with this issue. He said that this issue could not be left dangling, that a firmer regulatory framework was needed and that they would clarify the situation with their federal counterparts and then decide whether or not there was a need to legislate.

However, the federal government must first accept to take a step backwards and wait before passing this bill so there is no interference in provincial jurisdictions.

We know full well that Quebec has no jurisdiction in criminal matters, but it could have jurisdiction over the organization and management of fertility clinics. Mr. Couillard, the minister, said so himself, and I quote:

We will set up the appropriate legislative framework in our own jurisdiction, but I shall wait to see how the federal plan evolves before going any further.

Thus, we are in a system, the federal system, where each of the two governments claims jurisdiction over the same sector, from time to time. Here it is clear: the aspect relating to the Criminal Code is a federal responsibility, while the aspect relating to management of fertility clinics and all aspects related to health are under provincial jurisdiction.

Moreover, different approaches have become established in various provinces for some years. In Quebec, we hope to continue to be progressive in this field, to show leadership and adopt attitudes that reflect the will of Quebeckers. That is what is lacking today.

Often, there are situations that are difficult to assess; there must be legislation to manage the issues of cloning and surrogate motherhood. It is important to make laws in this domain, because if no one does, problems will be left unresolved and behaviours will become habits. Nevertheless, the federal responsibility is not to take a position in areas under provincial jurisdiction, but rather to pass a bill that deals with its own jurisdiction, as soon as possible.

If the federal government had taken this kind of attitude when the bill was first debated in the House—I think that was over a year ago—we would already have settled the issue. In fact, we could have split the bill and adopted it based on the elements that are federal government responsibilities. On that part of the bill, the Bloc Quebecois would probably have supported the federal government. As for the other part of the bill, which is not within federal jurisdiction, the Bloc cannot support the government.

The government led by Jean Charest, the Parti Quebecois, as official opposition, the Action démocratique du Québec, intervenors from the field, who are familiar with actual practice in Quebec, and the general public—although they may not all agree on the approach to be taken—all believe that the Government of Quebec has the responsibility, that it should shoulder that responsibility and that the federal government should stick to its own areas of jurisdiction.

We know that unacceptable practices such as creating human clones do exist now. There are also the fertility clinics' activities, for which Quebec is responsible. Bill C-13 contains a number of flaws that should be corrected. I still have hopes as far as opposition to this bill is concerned. The government has to correctly evaluate the situation. The government is responsible for passing legislation in areas under federal jurisdiction in order to deal with this problem.

If the government does not modify its current approach, the bill could very well be defeated by the House for a number of reasons. Many Alliance members are opposed in principle. The Bloc members, as well as all the federal Liberal members, should oppose this bill. The Quebec government, which represents all Quebeckers, has said through the health minister that it did not wand the federal government to adopt this kind of legislation and that it should take all the parts under provincial jurisdiction out of it.

We would like to think that the federal Liberals understand what the Quebec government is asking. It is no longer a sovereignist government asking. It is a federalist government, which has said that it was reaching out to the federal government in order to establish co-operative federalism. However, we see that the federal government across the way has not responded. It still wants to ram the bill through, despite the Quebec government's opposition.

I think that many federal Liberal members from Quebec who have already sat in Quebec's National Assembly should oppose the bill or make representations to their government to ensure that the part of the bill that concerns provincial jurisdiction is taken out of the bill in order to avoid confusion and to ensure that there is no intrusion into what is not under federal jurisdiction.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois intends to vote against the bill.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

October 27th, 2003 / 12:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Canadian Alliance Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have an opportunity to speak on a bill that matters, in a medical sense. Bill C-13 is a complex bill. It is about assisted human reproduction. The bill has actually been in the House in various iterations ever since I have been here.

I had an opportunity to deal with infertile couples in my life prior to coming to Parliament. I would like to briefly talk about what drives couples who want a natural child. This is a significant issue to these people and they will do virtually almost anything they can to have a child.

The causes of infertility are quite diverse. They range from the husband being infertile, possibly caused by a low sperm count from infection or injury to, more commonly, a wife's infertility. The wife's infertility may be caused by hormonal reasons and a reduction in the number of ova she might produce, infection, the ovary not working, tumours, and often times unknown factors in relation to infertility.

Science has mushroomed in this area. When I graduated, this was not a huge issue, even on the horizon, but we now have a host of mechanisms to help infertile couples. These range from drugs to enhance egg production, laparoscopic surgery which extracts eggs, to mechanisms which concentrate sperm.

We can now join the eggs and the sperm outside the body. These are commonly known as test tube babies. We can implant them in the mother's womb, or in fact implant them in another womb.

We have sperm donors. We have egg donors. We have instances where there are more eggs being extracted than are necessary for the couple to use. We also have the opportunity to freeze these little embryos, keep them for a fairly long period of time and reuse them.

Most of these issues are not controversial. They are widely accepted by Canadians under the broad heading of assisted human reproduction. Of course, this is a vote that involves issues of ethics. I personally support Bill C-13 as it relates to these activities and therapies.

There are, however, some controversial items in Bill C-13 that do have more ethical and significant moral components to them.

One of them is cloning. Cloning is encapsulated by this bill. Cloning is a complex issue in itself. I would have liked to have seen the bill split to actually look at assisted human reproduction in one bill and the more controversial issues to be looked at and studied in another bill. We in fact put that forward as a proposition, but it was not accepted. That would have been my preference.

Cloning involves taking the nucleus from a cell, replacing that nucleus with another nucleus, and having an identical organism formed from the new cell.

There are two types of cloning. There is cloning for reproduction, which would be someone trying to clone me, heaven forbid, in order to make an exact copy. That copy would be identical in appearance and genetic makeup. The other type of cloning is therapeutic cloning. It is not so simple, but to make it simple, it would be to have spare parts or spare individuals in case of the death or demise of an individual.

This bill would ban both types of cloning: therapeutic and reproductive. I believe that these types of cloning should be banned. However, at the present time, there is a debate going on in the UN on this very issue. There, Canada's position is not the same as the position in this bill. That troubles me because the Canadian position, which is to ban all types of cloning, should carry right through to the international experience.

I have been told that the reason this is being done is that at the UN there is very little chance of passing a total ban on cloning, and I do not buy that. I do not believe for one second that this is a legitimate or valid reason.

The second and even more controversial issue underneath the big umbrella of the bill is stem cell research. Basic cells in the body are stem cells and are capable of becoming any cell. We call it differentiation. They can become any cell. The stem cell, then, could become a nerve cell. It could become a brain cell. It could become a hair cell. It could become skin or bone. These cells, the basic cells of the process of an organism, are the building blocks, so to speak, of our bodies.

Stem cells can be sought and used from two broad sources. They can be used from the adult source or from the embryonic source. The adult source of stem cells is bone marrow and umbilical cord blood, and research on these stem cells has tremendous benefit, in my view, for therapy of some complex illnesses.

The other source is from the embryo. Let us remember that I mentioned in my comments prior to this that extra embryos can be taken from infertile couples and used in the fertility process. Extra embryos can be frozen and then used for research if in fact they are not used by the infertile couple.

A stem cell from an embryo is quite different from the stem cell of an adult. The embryo does involve some significant ethical and moral issues. There are those who debate that the embryo, even when it is outside the uterus, is the fundamental of human life. There are those who say that it is not implanted in the uterus and it is not human life at all. Then there is a third category of people who say that for the embryo, until it is a fetus and born, that is the only time we then have human life.

From my perspective, and this is a perspective of looking at this from the moral, ethical and medical viewpoints, the complexity of fetal or embryonic stem cell research is such that if we had a preference, and we actually do have a preference, we are better to look at the adult stem cells. To that end, my party, the Canadian Alliance, has asked for a moratorium on stem cell research from the embryonic source for three years, which is the initial three years that this bill would then review. To my mind, that would remove the controversy that surrounds the stem cell research.

What promise does adult stem cell research show us? The promise is really quite significant. There are some advantages in that if I had diabetes and my stem cells could produce the cells from my body which produce insulin, there would be no immune reaction. It would be taking my stem cells from my bone marrow and using them for therapy for my system. Immune rejection is a significant problem with the research in these areas. There would also be no embryonic destruction involved, which would remove the ethical and moral decision and debate there.

Are there examples of success? Just this year in June at the University of Minnesota bone marrow cells from adults have been transformed into every single other cell type. This has enormous potential.

My preference, then, and I speak on this bill not just from the party perspective but from my own preference, with a medical background, is to split the bill in half, one the human reproduction half and one the cloning/stem cell half. My preference would be a moratorium on embryonic stem cells for three years, which is actually my party's position as well.

Another preference is that children born of assisted human reproduction would have a right to know their parents and have a right to know the place where the cells came from.

I would also like to see some limitation of the eggs extracted from couples going through assisted human reproduction.

I also will say that there is strong support from me for research on adult stem cells and the exciting therapies that are potentially there.

The bill has been full of controversy. As I have said, it and its predecessors have been around for virtually 10 years. That controversy and the way this is now being brought to the House, with a side deal to allow for an agency to have gender parity, seem to me to minimize the importance and ethical component of the bill.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this important bill.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

October 23rd, 2003 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, insofar as the last part of the question, in fact such a motion would not change a law in any case. Let me first of all start by saying that this afternoon we will continue with debate on the opposition day non-confidence motion.

Tomorrow we shall consider Bill C-50, respecting veterans benefits, followed by the Senate amendments to Bill C-6, concerning first nations. Then, if we have time, we will consider Bill S-13, an act to amend the Statistics Act.

On Monday, we will consider bills left over from this week, as well as Bill C-32, the Criminal Code amendments, Bill C-13, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, and Bill C-45, the corporate governance bill.

Tuesday shall be the last allotted day in this budget cycle.

On Wednesday and on subsequent days, we shall return to any unfinished business, adding to the list any bills that may be reported from committee. We will also start debate on Bill C-19, the First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act, and Bill C-43, an act to amend the Fisheries Act.

This is the part of the session when it would be normal for bills that have been in committee for some time to be reported back to the House. I am hopeful that committees, such as the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and the Standing Committee on Transport, will soon complete their legislative work, so that the House may dispose of them in an orderly fashion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

October 23rd, 2003 / 1 p.m.
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Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, we realize that there is no legislative agenda left. There are only a few bills under consideration.

More bills may die on the Order Paper, like Bill C-38, decriminalizing marijuana, or Bill C-13, respecting assisted reproductive technologies. These bills may not be passed before the House adjourns.

It is clear that the hon. member for LaSalle-Émard is behind the scenes blocking various bills. This week, a caucus was held to discuss all these questions. Obviously, this does not allow the House to go about its business as usual. The whole parliamentary process is grinding to a halt.

With this, I would like my Conservative colleague to tell me whether he agrees that decisions are now being made outside the House, something which prevents the House from doing its work. I would also like him to tell me whether he thinks the motion moved by the Bloc is appropriate.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 23rd, 2003 / 10:55 a.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle Progressive Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of people in St. John's East who make the point that non-embryonic stem cell research has already shown encouraging potential to provide medical cure and therapies and that adult stem cells have shown significant research progress without the immune rejection or ethical problems associated with embryonic stem cell research. The petitioners further state that Bill C-13 continues to permit people to kill human embryos.

They call upon Parliament to ban embryonic stem cell research.

The Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

October 9th, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.
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Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Several officials, including those at the Table and perhaps yourself, have noted that when I gave my business statement and provided a copy, they were not the same. Just to correct the record, while I said Bill C-13 for tomorrow, that is not correct. It is Bill S-13 and the written copy I submitted said Bill S-13, respecting the census.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

October 9th, 2003 / 3 p.m.
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Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to answer that question. I think it is an excellent question.

This afternoon we will continue with the debate on Bill C-48, the resource taxation measures. We will then turn to a motion to refer Bill C-38, the cannabis legislation, to committee before second reading. If this is complete, then we would follow with: Bill C-32, the Criminal Code amendments; Bill C-19, the first nations fiscal institution bill; and Bill C-36, the archives bill, if we get to that. There is some discussion going on about Bill C-36.

Tomorrow we will begin with Bill C-19, if it has not already been completed, and then go to Bill C-13. If we have not completed the list for today, we could as well continue with that.

Next week is the Thanksgiving week of constituency work. When we return on October 20, it is my intention to call Bill C-49 to begin; that is the redistribution legislation, for the benefit of hon. members. When that is concluded, we would return to any of the business not completed this week or reported from committee.

Thursday, October 23, shall be an allotted day. That is the sixth day in the supply cycle.


October 9th, 2003 / 10 a.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I will now give the ruling on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Mississauga South on October 6. I thank the hon. member for raising the question, as well as the hon. member for Yellowhead for his comments.

The hon. member for Mississauga South argued that, in light of the complexity of the bill and of the number of amendments which the House had adopted at report stage, members required a reprint of the bill in order to be able to properly conduct debate at third reading. He pointed out that this need was all the more pressing given that the bill had not been debated since April 10 of this year.

The unanimous consent of the House was sought on March 31 and again on October 3 to permit a motion ordering a reprint of the bill to be put to a vote. The consent was denied.

I would like to remind the hon. member that it is not the practice of the House to have bills reprinted at third reading. In this regard I refer him to the ruling by the Deputy Speaker on the same point concerning Bill C-13 on March 31, at page 4922 of the Debates .

As the hon. member is fully aware, the House may, if it chooses, order a reprint of the bill. The unanimous consent necessary to allow such a motion to be put without notice has so far not been forthcoming.

CloningOral Question Period

October 8th, 2003 / 3 p.m.
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Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec health and social services minister Philippe Couillard has taken a stand against Bill C-13, the cloning bill, arguing that this bill clearly encroached on Quebec's jurisdictions.

Will the Minister of Health listen to her counterpart in Quebec and withdraw from an area that does not concern her by dividing her bill in two, to ensure that the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces are respected?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2003 / 5:25 p.m.
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Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member for Mississauga South.

I want to begin my response by suggesting that whenever it appears that the government of the day has interfered with the work of a committee and has not respected the wishes of a standing committee of this place then it is a matter of concern for all of us. It is a theme that has run throughout these last couple of years in Parliament and one that we have raised on numerous occasions.

The member for Mississauga South will know that on a legislative matter that we held near and dear, Bill C-13, dealing with reproductive technologies, there was great concern expressed on our part and by other members about how the government refused to accept amendments made in committee by all parties and in fact interfered with that democratic process by not including those amendments in the legislative proposal.

However, as in that case, today we must make a judgment about the merits of a bill versus some of the changes that we wanted to see that are not there.

It is important to recognize, in the context of Bill C-36 when dealing with clause 21, that there was in fact agreement in committee to have this clause removed. I am not so sure who bears all the brunt of the blame for the fact that it is not there.

I was not in the House when the bill was debated at report stage, but I understand the fact that action was not taken on clause 21 was largely a result of human error and a lack of vigilance on this question. The members of the government side in committee did not move the motion pursuant to clause 21 when it was the appropriate time to do so, so it did not happen there. When the bill came to the House for report stage, the Official Opposition, who felt strongly about this happening, did not move the elimination of clause 21 in the House.

As a result, by human error and not deliberate intention, this initiative was not taken. The fact of the matter is that we now have to decide if we are going to hassle about that. Are we going to haggle over those terms and that history, and lose a bill which would make an important contribution to our society? Are we going to go forward and at least see that the merger between the National Library of Canada and the National Archives of Canada is allowed to take place? We must have a public policy vehicle to ensure that the work of those who create, the writers in our society, those who write stories based on personal histories and who pursue letters and documents from our archives are able to do so knowing, and that their work is secure and the documents are safe in a physically sound building?

The bottom line comes down to how we sort through that. For our part, we have decided to support the bill, despite any shortcomings with the bill and despite lack of assurances that in fact adequate funding will be there when this merger takes place.

We must give it a chance. We have to listen to the voices of those experts who have been sounding the alarm bells for years about leaky roofs, yellowing paper, and the loss of valuable documents because we did not have the physical capabilities to keep them.

This gives us an opportunity to do what is important in that regard and it also gives us a chance to redress a problem that was created with the last copyright legislation when we did not take into account the whole question of unpublished works and copyright protection.

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2003 / 4:15 p.m.
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Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member referred to the committee as the master of its own work. He was quite correct in identifying that with regard to a bill such as Bill C-13 where, after 200 witnesses and 400 submissions, the committee came up with only three amendments to the bill, and each one of those was reversed at report stage by the government because it was not in agreement with them.

The parliamentary secretary's position is always tentative, and members have argued from time to time that parliamentary secretaries should not even be on committees because they are almost serving two masters.

Could the member advise the House whether the issue about the deal has resolved itself to the extent that there is a consensus within committee?

Library and Archives of Canada ActGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2003 / 3:45 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to state at the outset that the parliamentary secretary is an hon. member of this House and any of my comments should not be inferred as to suggest otherwise. That having been said, I find a tremendous difficulty in that the entire House of Commons, whether it is in this chamber or in committee, works on negotiation between members. When that negotiation happens, there is an assumption on the part of both parties I am sure that once the persons negotiating arrive at an agreement, the agreement will be fulfilled. Clearly that has not happened in this instance.

What has happened is that the committee was overtaken by the member for Parkdale—High Park and others who are concerned about seeing that this particular omnibus provision was included in the bill. This was totally outside any agreement that had been made by us at that time.

We should be focusing as well on when the committee hearings actually took place. The Speaker might not be aware that the committee hearings actually took place after the House rose for the summer recess. When those committee hearings took place, the understanding on the part of the Bloc member, on the part of the Conservatives and certainly on the part of the official opposition was that the agreement that had been entered into by the parliamentary secretary on behalf of the heritage member and on behalf of the department officials was that those clauses would be removed.

There is goodwill that exists around the body of this bill and what this bill is actually about. There is goodwill that exists on wanting to get on with modernizing the library and bringing forward a proper archival situation in Canada. Because of that goodwill and because of the value of this bill, we did not see any reason to be worried about what would be happening at committee.

As I said directly to the parliamentary secretary, I understand that the events at committee ended up overtaking her and overtaking the commitment that she had made. To be very generous, I might even suspect that the member for Parkdale—High Park might not have been aware that this commitment had been made. Let us make that assumption, but that does not absolve the parliamentary secretary or the Minister of Canadian Heritage from the fact that a commitment had been made to members of her party, to members of the official opposition, indeed to all members of the House who were concerned about this bill.

This is scandalous behaviour. It ends up undermining the ability of us to do business. It means that all the suspicions and the worry about what the real meaning is of ministers and all the paranoia that there frequently is around the parliamentary process end up coming into reality.

The reality is that the heritage minister and her spokesperson, the parliamentary secretary, have not been prepared to follow through on a solemn commitment that was made in this chamber. Let me be very clear and totally transparent. This means that there will be a question in the minds of all parliamentarians when they receive a commitment from a parliamentary secretary on behalf of a heritage minister as to whether they actually have the intent to follow through.

We were dealing with Bill C-13 earlier today in the House. The health minister came to this House and overturned the work of the committee on Bill C-13. This is very common. It is an unfortunate happenstance because parliamentary committees should be independent. Parliamentary committees should be able to make changes to government legislation. But it is very common that ministers will come to this place after those changes have been made by committee and will overturn the changes. That is the reason I raised the example of Bill C-13.

We could go down a whole list of legislation where this has happened. Therefore, with the greatest respect, I say to the hon. parliamentary secretary that it is simply not genuine to say that the committee is master of its own destiny and therefore she and the heritage minister are incapable of making the change. I am sorry but that does not fly. That is simply not a valid argument.

I suggest what has happened is the heritage minister with her own leadership aspirations has taken her eye off her legislation, which is in front of the House now, and has basically left the parliamentary secretary hanging out to dry. Once again, on the issue of copyright law, the heritage minister has walked away from her responsibility and we have bad law. This was an omnibus bill that should never have been an omnibus bill.

Clause 21 should never have been included in the bill, as I said in my question to the parliamentary secretary. I have the Copyright Act in my hand right now. I understand the copyright law. It was very clear that there had to be changes in the Copyright Act for Bill C-36 to go forward. That is simple and very straightforward. What was not needed was Clause 21. Clause 21 in this bill is the opening up of copyright legislation.

She will know, as a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, that starting next week the standing committee will be briefed by parliamentary officials on a review of the Copyright Act. We will be briefed on Tuesday and again Thursday.

There is a whole situation around copyright law that desperately needs changes and I will address couple of them in half a second. The parliamentary secretary knows that. I do not know what went on behind the scenes. I do not know how in the world we ended up with clause 21 being surreptitiously put into the bill. It basically takes a current issue, a vital and important issue to certain copyright holders and advances it ahead of other people who are very concerned about clauses and provisions in the Copyright Act.

I draw to the House's attention subsection 30.8(8) and subsection 30.9(6) of the Copyright Act. This is the basis of me saying once again that the heritage minister has done a bad, totally inadequate, flawed job of copyright revision. By allowing these changes in Bill C-36, by surreptitiously putting them into Bill C-36, by falling back behind the rubric that committees are masters of their own destiny, once again she has done a totally inadequate job. When the new Prime Minister takes over, it will be very surprising to see if she manages to maintain her position as Minister of Canadian Heritage because she has absolutely dropped the ball on this issue as with many others.

In the case of sections 30.8 and 30.9 of the Copyright Act, the relevance here is that the actual provisions that had to be changed in Bill C-36 are in proposed section 30.5. We are talking about things that also need changing and we are very close: 30.5 versus 30.8 and 30.9.

What desperately needs changing is what was inserted into the bill back when we were in committee work in 1997. At that time we were looking at ephemeral recordings. That is when a radio station ends up making a recording for absolutely no reason other than a technical ability to more easily bring programming to air. There are exceptions all the way through in sections 30.8 and 30.9 that would permit the radio stations to do a job in a very efficient way.

As a result of the inclusion in section 30.8 of subsection (8), tens if not hundreds of people are losing their jobs or have lost their jobs this year as a result of this clause. The reality is subsection (8) stops the radio stations from either doing things efficiently in a modern, technological way or by doing them efficiently in a modern, technological way and having an unfair compensation go to the creators.

What it is all about is very straightforward. Nowadays just about all music comes to the radio stations in a digital format. It can come to the radio stations in a digital format on a CD or it can come to the radio stations in a digital format on some form of broad band. When that digital format is actually at the radio station, then a decision has to be made.

For example, on a CD there might be 12, 15, 18, 20 cuts or songs. What the radio station would decide is whether it would play cut number two, number seven or number nine. It does not need the rest of the CD. When the station does its programming, it simply lifts selections two, seven and nine from the CD and puts them onto a hard drive. When a particular song is played on air, it is in a different format and, as a consequence, it is automatically on the air.

As I have explained many times to the House, my daughter is married to a musician. I understand copyright. He is a composer. I understand why copyright exists and my daughter and my four grandchildren are supported in no small part by virtue of the fact that copyright law exists. I am in favour of copyright law. When value is exchanged, when the music is played, then my son-in-law and all other composers and authors and artists should be properly compensated. That is fine.

What goes on with so-called ephemeral recordings is it simply changes the format technically behind the scenes, possibly at a totally different location, and when it changes the format as a result of clause (8), a copyright fee is payable. The artists, the composers, the authors are not entitled to be paid simply because of a technological change.

The heritage minister is prepared to change the copyright law in clause 21 for specific copyright owners and holders or people who could receive value because of copyright law. However she is not prepared to protect the hundreds of people in the radio and recording industries who have ended up losing their jobs in the last year to 18 months.

The parliamentary secretary knows that. I believe her predecessor was with us when we were on the tour to take a look at this, among many other issues. We were in a radio station in downtown Montreal. We went through and saw what actually transpired. Does anyone know what it was? It was the push of a button. With that push of button there was no sound, no music, no playing and no value exchanged. There was simply the transfer of digital information at light speed from one format to another format and, as a result of that, there was a copyright payable. There are other problems within the copyright law at which we desperately need to be look.

Why did we end up with subsection (8) and subsection (9)? In 1997 the then parliamentary secretary, Guy Arseneault was negotiating with the Bloc Quebecois and at that point there were no collectives that could actually collect any copyright fee. The Bloc Quebecois critic, in negotiating with Mr. Arseneault, the parliamentary secretary, had those clauses included.

I hollered in a loud voice at that time. The recording industry and broadcasters could see this train coming into the station and we tried to make as big a deal of it as we possibly could, and good on the Bloc Quebecois.

What happened was this. Gaston Leroux, who was the critic for the Bloc Quebecois, knew there was a collective coming in Quebec and because he knew that, he wanted to wipe out the ability of the ephemeral rights exclusion and he got his way. Why? Because the parliamentary secretary of the day, acting on behalf of the then heritage minister, the current heritage minister, was prepared to negotiate that into this law, and it is bad law. Why? Because the heritage minister had made up her mind that Bill C-32 would be through Parliament, out of committee by Christmas and there was a deadline. That was a roadblock by the Bloc Quebecois.

This is fine. That is part of parliamentary procedure but it does not mean that we have to live with bad law that was created by the heritage minister who was simply trying to get the bill through Parliament.

Once again, we have a situation where this heritage minister, in Bill C-36, has gone ahead and made changes yet once again to copyright law that really should not have been made. I am really not sure what her motivation is nor will I try to guess. The fact is the heritage committee is now seized with the responsibility under legislation, which came to us through Bill C-32, to come to the House with a report on the shortcomings and the strengths of the copyright law and from that point to come forward with laws on a new copyright bill. There is no excuse for the fact that we are in that process and for the fact that this, which I believe is an erroneous part of Bill C-32 to begin with, is now part of Bill C-36.

There are other parts of copyright law that also require changing. For example, the so-called blank tape levy, again one to which I absolutely was opposed, is proving to become even more of a problem than what I have just explained about ephemeral right. Under the guise of ensuring that the artists would end up being properly compensated, the heritage minister brought into Bill C-32 the so-called blank tape levy, which is to presume that everyone in Canada is guilty of recording illegally and therefore we will extract a levy on all blank tapes.

First, that goes against anything I understand about law in Canada. Every Canadian is innocent until proven guilty. Under the blank tape levy we are saying that everybody is guilty, whether they record a sermon in church, or a speech, or something in a classroom, and they must pay a levy on that.

The interpretation by the copyright board has been that it is on the amount of information recorded, not on the length of the tape. The original idea that was floated, and I did not believe it for a second, was it only would be 25¢ a tape and that was really no big deal. In fact it has been substantially more than 25¢ a tape. Now that we have new technology and new recordings like the MP3s and others that have a tremendous capacity to absorb music, the cost of that new technology has gone through the roof.

It will mean for Canadian retailers, for people with whom I am familiar, that some people will quickly go across from southwestern Ontario to Buffalo or to Niagara Falls, New York. I am familiar with people in British Columbia who will easily go across to Spokane.

What it basically means is that an MP3 or another recording device that is available in constant Canadian dollars down there for $200 will be retailing in Canada for $400 or $600 simply because of this so-called blank tape levy.

The problem with Bill C-36 is not its intent, but the fact that the heritage minister chose to make this an omnibus bill, thereby being caught in changing unnecessary parts of the Copyright Act and as a consequence acting in a totally unfair way with other copyright holders.

I say, shame on the minister for putting the parliamentary secretary into the position that she did, in asking the parliamentary secretary to give my colleague and I, and others a solemn undertaking that the clause would be removed. Shame on her for not removing it when it came back here at report stage.