Human Pathogens and Toxins Act

An Act to promote safety and security with respect to human pathogens and toxins

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

Sponsor

Leona Aglukkaq  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment creates measures to promote safety and security with respect to human pathogens and toxins and all activities associated with them. It establishes a comprehensive legislative regime that extends beyond the present importation regime. It requires every person conducting activities involving human pathogens or toxins to take all reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of the public.

Elsewhere

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.

Votes

May 5, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
April 27, 2009 Passed That Bill C-11, An Act to promote safety and security with respect to human pathogens and toxins, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .

Human Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 24th, 2009 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know the answer to that. That question must be posed to the government and the government must be able to provide the House and our citizens with a response. We have to ensure that we have the ability to engage with the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta. We are looking for not only a North American integrated response for surveillance standards and containment but we are also looking beyond North America.

As I mentioned before, south China is generally the source of the avian flu. China is investing a lot of money right now into its primary health care structure after it suffered a collapse. As a result of the history that Norman Bethune, a great Canadian, had with respect to the Chinese, there is an opportunity for the government to engage the Chinese on the issue of public health.

Human Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 24th, 2009 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to Bill C-11, report stage Motion No. 1 ostensibly requires that the regulations being drafted and proposed, and appended to the legislation, go through the appropriate standing committee for review. I want to indicate that I support this very much. The reproductive technology act had a similar proposal. Over 200 draft regulations have yet to come on a piece of legislation that passed many years ago. This means that significant aspects of the reproductive technology act are not even in force yet because regulations have not been propagated.

I want to simply ask the member whether or not he supports Motion No. 1, that the draft regulations go before a committee so it can ensure that they properly reflect the enabling provisions of the legislation in question?

Human Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 24th, 2009 / 12:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. We fully support Motion No. 1. This is too important an issue to not do it right. It is an issue of public health and public safety. We will work co-operatively in a bipartisan way in the interests of our citizens and their health to ensure that it is done right. The government will see our team as a very willing participant. We will give the best of what we have to ensure that the bill will serve the needs of our citizens and the safety of our citizens now and into the future.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-11, in Clause 66.1, be amended by

(a) replacing lines 17 to 24 on page 31 with the following:

“regulation before each House of Parliament.

(2) A proposed regulation that is laid before Parliament shall be referred to the appropriate committee of each House, as determined by the rules of that House, and the committee may review the proposed regulation and report its findings to that House.

(2.1) The committee of the House of Commons referred to in subsection (2) shall be the Standing Committee on Health or, in the event that there is not a Standing Committee on Health, the appropriate committee of the House.”

(b) replacing lines 28 to 32 on page 31 with the following:

“tion is laid before Parliament,

(b) 160 calendar days after the proposed regulation is laid before Parliament, and

(c) the day after each appropriate committee”

(c) replacing lines 36 to 39 on page 31 with the following:

“report of the committee of either House. If a regulation does not incorporate a recommendation of the committee of either House, the Minister shall lay before that House a statement of the reasons for not”

(d) replacing, in the English version, line 2 on page 32 with the following:

“before Parliament need not again”.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-11, in Clause 66.2, be amended by

(a) replacing line 6 on page 32 with the following:

“being laid before either House of Parliament if”

(b) replacing lines 16 and 17 on page 32 with the following:

“before Parliament, the Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a statement of the”.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:25 p.m.
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Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today at report stage of Bill C-11, An Act to promote safety and security with respect to human pathogens and toxins, to speak to the government amendments to clauses 66.1 and 66.2, which are now before us.

We heard at second reading that there is strong support in this House for strengthening safety and security with regard to human pathogens and toxins right here in Canada. We are committed to moving forward with this legislation to address the serious safety and security gaps that we have identified in order to safeguard Canadians from the threats posed by human pathogens and toxins.

Members of the Standing Committee on Health had an extensive opportunity to review all elements of Bill C-11. All told, the committee heard from five government witnesses, in some cases more than once, and from 13 other witnesses over a period of a month. In total there were seven separate sessions devoted almost entirely to review and discussion of Bill C-11. In these sessions, all voices were heard and all opinions were closely considered. The result of the committee's hard work is an amended bill that we think well reflects the underlying policy intent of the bill, as well as other key aspects of concern to some witnesses.

There were 12 amendments to the bill, of which eight were put forth by the government and four were put forth by the opposition. These amendments include a government amendment to clarify technical aspects of the bill, such as the fact that there will be no requirement to report to the minister of health when there is a simple spill in the laboratory, but only when there is a release of a human pathogen or toxin from the facility itself.

As well, two opposition amendments were put forward to require the establishment of scientific advisory committees to advise the minister of health regarding the schedules to the bill. These amendments, which the government supports, go a long way in ensuring there is an evidence base for decision-making on how to treat dangerous, and less dangerous, pathogens.

Two other government amendments responded to input that the committee received from the office of the Privacy Commissioner, which we believe resulted in better privacy protection in this bill.

The bill was also amended to clearly articulate that there will be no security screening of persons accessing risk group 2 human pathogens and to signal that the regulations should be drafted taking into account the varying degrees of risk between risk groups of human pathogens and between toxins. As well, the penalty clauses in Bill C-11 were amended to lower the penalties related to contraventions of the act and regulations related to risk group 2 human pathogens.

These amendments were made to respond to what we heard from numerous witnesses at committee who strongly emphasized that risk group 2 human pathogens, although clearly capable of causing serious disease and death, posed lesser risks. Therefore they warranted less stringent treatment both in the bill and in the regulations.

We heard what these witnesses had to say and the government was comfortable proposing these numerous amendments which were all agreed to at committee.

In addition to the successful amendments put forward at committee, two amendments are related to a requirement for the tabling of regulations made under Bill C-11 before both Houses of Parliament. These amendments were put forward by the opposition and became the new clauses 66.1 and 66.2. They were agreed to by the committee, including the government members, subject to one qualification.

The government responded to these proposed amendments by requesting that the words “and the Senate” be added where the words “House of Commons” appeared in the amendments, to ensure that the regulations would also be tabled there.

After some discussion, the committee agreed to the suggestion, which was considered a friendly amendment, with agreement that the changed amendments would be worded in a way similar to what is now found in the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.

Unfortunately, upon review of the bill as reported from the Standing Committee on Health, it became obvious that this last specific requirement relating to the tabling of regulations in both Houses of Parliament was not included in the amended bill, as was requested by the committee.

Many of the needed references to the Senate, and particularly the fact that the regulations must be referred to a committee of that House, were simply left out. The government has put forward amendments at report stage to address this omission.

More specifically, the government has proposed an amendment to clause 66.1 to require that the regulations be tabled before each House of Parliament and that a proposed regulation that is laid before Parliament shall be referred to the appropriate committee of each House, as determined by the rules.

The new clause 66.2 allows for some specific exemptions from the requirement to table regulations in both houses of Parliament. The proposed government amendment now before us specifies that should the Minister of Health make a regulation without first laying it before either house of Parliament, she must lay before each house a statement of reasons for doing so.

These proposed government amendments to clauses 66.1 and 66.2 are completely in line with the wordings of section 66 and 67 of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act as requested and agreed to by the Standing Committee on Health.

The bill, with these new amendments, reflects the hard work and co-operative approach that was taken at committee, reflecting the need to work together to safeguard the health and safety of Canadians. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the committee for a job well done.

I request that the House agree to these amendments, which simply reflect what the committee had previously agreed was the right way to proceed, in the same spirit of co-operation and concern for the health and safety of Canadians that was apparent in all of the discussions around Bill C-11 that occurred in committee.

As I noted, we believe that the amended Bill C-11, which was reported to the House from committee, is a stronger piece of legislation that well reflects the policy intent of the legislation and concerns expressed by some witnesses at committee. These government amendments to clauses 66.1 and 66.2 will essentially complete the good work of the committee by ensuring that the amended Bill C-11 reflects what was actually agreed to by committee in consideration of the input of many witnesses over a period a month.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I compliment the member for bringing this forward. I have a question about the exemption in the minister having to bring regulations before Parliament if she gives a written reason. If some time in the future we were to get a minister who might use that clause indiscriminately, Parliament might never see the changes in regulations. Is there any qualification on that clause?

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I think it is worth noting for the record and for all members that these amendments were put forward by the NDP.

I am not here to take credit. I am here to suggest that we worked very hard at trying to improve a bill around which many flaws were identified. Because we did not have the time or the wherewithal to actually amend the bill as we would have seen fit, my proposed amendment was in fact to ensure that all regulations would be brought back to the House. When that was discussed at committee, it was felt that it should also go back to the Senate for which I had no concerns. Unfortunately the minutes of our committee did not reflect that hard work.

The Liberal member who spoke before me suggested we ought to compliment the government. I will compliment the government, not for initiating this idea but for accepting something that was brought forward in good faith by the NDP opposition.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the NDP for her statement, but I would like to take this opportunity to compliment all members of the health committee.

This very important legislation is much overdue. There are over 4,000 laboratories in Canada that right now work with human pathogens. We need to ensure that we know where these pathogens and toxins are.

We had some excellent witnesses. We had great government witnesses and very good private witnesses. Each member of the health committee worked very hard to get proper input, not only the NDP but the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois and the Conservative Party.

I take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues on the health committee for being so helpful in getting this very important legislation put through.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to make comments on Bill C-11, having been part of the committee and the process of reviewing the bill, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of it and taking action, as my Liberal colleagues and other committee members did, in what was, in the end, a very co-operative process.

Everyone in the committee was in accord about the importance of ensuring that the handling of pathogens and toxins in laboratory work and transportation of these goods protect the individual safety and public safety.

We did ascertain that there were risks with some of those products, greater risks with some than with others, and that the public good was best served by laws addressing that. Therefore, there was a common view that this was the right thing and a good thing to do.

My experience as a legislator tells me that the public good is sometimes served by laws addressing a problem, but government always needs to be very aware that there are risks arising from possible unintended consequences of the legislation being proposed.

Pretty classic risks of unintended consequences include things as: stepping into the jurisdiction of another level of government; duplicating existing work and licensing and processes already in place to protect the public; placing a regulatory burden that would be onerous given the benefits; the impacts on the delivery of a public good that we are trying to promote may reduce the delivery of that public good; stepping into information privacy terrain and risking the disclosure of personal and private information that is inappropriate or against the law; or even using, in effect, a sledgehammer to crush a flea by having very onerous provisions and penalties in situations where they are simply not warranted.

Those are classic potential downsides or pitfalls to making laws. I think all legislators would agree that we need to be mindful that we are not over-regulating and we are not creating more problems than we are solving just for the pure joy of addressing problems and making laws.

When the bill was first presented to the committee, there were very severe concerns and, in fact, those concerns fit into that whole range of unintended negative consequences, which I outlined as theoretical ones. They were in fact present in Bill C-11.

Why was a bill, which had so many problems, being pushed through for fast approval at committee? What was clear was the consultation the government should have done with respect to writing the bill to address the risks around the handling of toxins and pathogens had been completely inadequate. Although the committee members were assured that there had been extensive and adequate consultation, when the list of those activities was reviewed, it was clear that there was minimal consultation with the decision-makers in the province of British Columbia. I know some of the other provincial health officers had the same concerns.

A letter from the minister of healthy living and sport in British Columbia, for example, had very strong language of concern about Bill C-11 as it was first presented to the committee, words such as, “The schedules are over-reaching”, “The administrative burden of regulation is felt to be onerous”, and “it is our strong preference that a new bill be considered which is collaboratively developed through consultations with the provinces and territories”.

This is a strong indication that adequate consultation did not occur. The absolute foundation of good legislation, legislation that previews and corrects unintended consequences, is to talk to the very organizations and individuals affected by it. This has been consistent problem with the Conservative government.

I was very involved when Bill C-51 on natural products was brought forward last year. It infuriated organizations because they had been completely left out of the consultation process. Had they been involved, they would have made very constructive representations as to how to improve the bill. The bill was killed when the House, when the Conservative government called an election last September. We will see whether the necessary improvements have been made.

With Bill C-11, several provincial governments felt it was completely inappropriate to step into their jurisdiction, clearly duplicating activities that were already taking place in many of the provincially regulated laboratories, which are already under a very constructive and thorough system of regulation and licensing.

On the regulatory burden, the committee heard from some of the university labs and others. They said that this regulatory burden would be very costly and that there were no provisions to assist with those costs. In fact, we heard that similar legislation in the United States had caused research to stop at some university research facilities. This is an unintended consequence that we do not want in Canada. We know how important primary basic research is. We know the important research these laboratories do on pathogens and toxins. Shutting down a source of research is definitely counterproductive to the goals of the bill.

Concerns were expressed by information and privacy commissioners. There were major concerns with the penalties and the criminalization of what could be an inadvertent misstep on the part of a laboratory staff person, resulting in an action that under that bill could have called for criminal penalties. There were serious concerns about the bill. Opposition members argued very vigorously that the government should take the bill back and redo it, make the necessary amendments and bring it back to the committee with the key concerns solved. At first we were being asked to accept a “trust us” message, that these things would be corrected in committee later in the process. We were not willing to do that, notwithstanding the importance of the issues and the risk that the bill was attempting to address.

After having given that context to the situation, I am pleased to say the committee members from all parties worked very constructively together. The government and the agency that was the author of the bill had the wisdom to make amendments to address some of the grave concerns raised, and those amendments were outlined in some detail by the previous speaker.

The bill that came back to the committee addressed some of those concerns, but not all of them. That is why further amendments were proposed to ensure the regulations would go to Parliament and that an advisory committee would be brought into the process of regulation making. Those were absolutely necessary amendments. I am pleased to say they are part of the bill as it goes forward. This was an occasion where the unintended consequences were serious, but they were addressed. The committee did its work. I want to congratulate all the committee members for the work on this occasion. I look forward to seeing the bill in its next iteration.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, we think the bill is well-intentioned, but there are some ways to improve it.

I want to talk about the plan to provide enhanced inspection powers to help ensure compliance. We know that when it comes to inspectors the Conservative government has a habit of cutting them when it is convenient and then it ends up having to apologize for those mistakes later on. In this case it is to ensure compliance with laboratory biosafety guidelines, which is a pretty important part of the bill.

I want to ask my colleague if she has any concerns in that regard, whether that has been completely taken care of and what has to be done going forward. We obviously want to support the bill. I would like her to address the enhanced inspection powers.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, this was a different situation from the ones that have been in the media where, unfortunately, the absence of proper inspection and the deregulation and the pulling back of inspection caused Canadian fatalities. The Conservative government needs to take responsibility for those errors. This was the other situation where there was a duplication and an over-abundance of regulation and inspection in facilities, many of which were being adequately regulated already not only by the institution, perhaps a university, but also by the province whose laws governed those institutions already.

We were attempting to make sure there was no duplication of the inspection and compliance as opposed to what was happening in the listeria situation where the government fell down on the job.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, it is such a joy to have a new member of caucus, a former minister of the environment, who can bring such depth to the analysis of a lot of bills. It is very helpful for our party.

I want to ask the member the same question that I asked the parliamentary secretary. In his good comprehensive speech, he outlined the fact that regulations would be brought before both houses of Parliament. That is a refreshing change. I compliment all members on the health committee for doing that, because sometimes we do not see regulations at all.

There is an exemption for the minister. I am wondering if there is any written reason to exempt bringing those to Parliament. When that part of the bill was being designed I am wondering if any caveat was included to stop a minister from using that every time.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I have concerns about exemptions for the minister.

One of the premises that was put to committee was that the bill itself is not very detailed. The lowest level of toxic products, pathogens that may be found in soil, in a laundry basket, or even normally found on the human body, would not be subject to some of the very onerous and necessary restrictions and governance procedures for the highly toxic. That is the kind of thing that was really not addressed properly in the bill. We were assured it would be addressed in the regulations.

As the bill goes forward, we will be looking closely at any exemptions because creating a bill with improper consultation and inadequate attention to some of the matters that I raised earlier means that we really need to have parliamentary scrutiny as it goes forward to the regulations.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 5:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Madam Speaker, I too, am pleased to have this opportunity to comment at the report stage of Bill C-11, An Act to promote safety and security with respect to human pathogens and toxins.

I would like to begin by commenting on something the member for Yukon said. After the government moved Motion No. 1, which we will be voting on later, my colleague from Yukon seemed very pleased that the bill now includes a requirement for the government to table the regulatory framework in both houses of Parliament.

I would just like to say that that is the very least we could have agreed to, and that is why I proposed just such an amendment in committee. Allow me to review the beginnings of this bill so that I can explain all of the work that we had to do to improve this bill—even slightly—although I still find it unsatisfactory.

At second reading, after briefings from public servants who told us that they had done an excellent job of consulting all of the stakeholders affected by the bill, that everything had been done according to standard practice and that consultations had been held, we called on a certain number of stakeholders. What we heard from them was an entirely different story, and it did not sound as though they had been consulted properly. Many of them had major misgivings about how Bill C-11 was to be applied to their labs.

I did talk about that during my speech at second reading here in the House. At the time, the parliamentary secretary thought it would be a good idea to hear from these groups in committee, but I think he took it for granted that the debate in committee would go relatively quickly and that the committee would fast-track Bill C-11.

However, that was not the case. We heard witnesses, people who work daily with micro-organisms that fall primarily in risk group 2, which is a category that does not pose a serious risk to public health. We know that a number of standards are being followed in these laboratories regarding handling procedures, because in many cases the provinces have set operating rules.

So, we heard from these groups at committee stage. I will even go so far as to say that, just before the clause by clause study, these stakeholders still had serious and legitimate doubts about the negative impact that Bill C-11 might have on their activities.

At no time did we sense, on the part of the department or of the government, a will to reassure these researchers, and the students who work with them, on the negative consequences that the bill could have on their work.

Therefore, it was necessary to see that this regulatory framework would at least include all the flexibility required to ensure that these people would not be adversely affected.

However, we would have liked to go further in our committee report and to remove from the bill the provisions on laboratories that use pathogens that fall into risk group 2. A number of people felt that the risks posed by these pathogens are already controlled. Therefore, they should not be subjected to very strict standards that could—as I mentioned in my speech at second reading—generate significant costs. Such costs could jeopardize a number of important studies on the development of state-of-the-art technologies. The result would be that studies done by our researchers and by the postgraduate students they supervise would not be conducted, due to a lack of adequate funding caused by the costs generated by the implementation of Bill C-11. At no time were officials or the government able to reassure these people as to who would foot the bill for the improvements that would have to be made to these laboratories.

Another important thing that I would have liked to see included in the bill is the exclusion of activities conducted in any facility that is regulated, operated or funded by a province. Indeed, in many cases, the provinces have already put control structures in place. Therefore, we do not need the federal government to create more paperwork and to add another level of monitoring, particularly for those facilities that come directly under a provincial government, namely hospitals and universities. This is evidence again that the government claims, on the one hand, to want to respect provincial jurisdictions, but, on the other hand—and through its actions—deprives Quebec and the provinces of their ability to fully exercise their authority. Yet, they have already put structures in place to monitor this research.

The second point is that at committee stage we heard experts who told us that, given the way this bill is drafted, it could be deemed unconstitutional. Why move forward with legislation that has not been thoroughly examined by the government before introducing it, and even less so in committee, where we felt that the government was turning a deaf ear, instead of listening to those who did not agree with its bill? Why is it that before introducing a bill and adopting it here, the government does not make sure that it respects every constitutional requirement? We did not get an adequate answer from the government on this.

Clearly, we must ensure that the minimal amendments presented by the government are adopted, so that if Parliament has to deal with Bill C-11, it will see the regulatory framework before the legislation is passed. However, this Parliament could go much further in terms of the assurances that we could give to our researchers. They have told us that and we know it. For the past while, they have been very concerned about whether they can continue to conduct their activities adequately.

Motions in AmendmentHuman Pathogens and Toxins ActGovernment Orders

April 22nd, 2009 / 6 p.m.
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NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague in the Bloc Québécois for his excellent speech and his analysis of this bill. Moreover, I agree with a number of aspects in his analysis.

I want to indicate that we in the NDP also have grave concerns with this bill and with the government's whole approach to what were supposed to have been routine proceedings. In fact, we found out shortly after about the ruse created by the government that full dialogue had taken place with all players. That was not true. There was enormous concern all over this country, with provincial health officers, universities and researchers feeling that they had not been consulted and that this bill would create serious problems in terms of their research capacity by setting out all aspects dealing with level 2 toxins as coming under this rubric of criminal activity and being subsumed under this broad, heavy-handed approach.

I find it offensive that the government stands up today pretending that it brought forward amendments to improve the bill by making all regulations in the future come before Parliament. I want to put clearly on the record that in fact it was the New Democratic Party that proposed the amendments because of our deep concerns about this bill, amendments that were also initiated by the members of the Bloc and I thank them for their contribution.

I think we are dealing with a complete charade by the Conservatives on this front, because the amendment passed by the committee on March 31 said, with a friendly amendment, that the regulations should be put before both houses of Parliament. It was clearly established in our committee hearings that it was the agreed-upon amendment by all sides, yet we find the government coming forward today with an amendment that varies that wording slightly and pretends it is its own amendment.

The government does not acknowledge the fact that there were serious problems with this bill and that in the process it had to accept certain recommendations by the opposition. We remain concerned by the government's approach today. We are not satisfied that the government has treated all the concerns of the committee seriously. While we have said that we might be prepared to support the bill in final reading, I am certainly getting concerned day by day with the arrogance of the government and its attitude of pretending and creating a mythology that it has no lessons to learn, knows everything, and will not admit to any errors.

From beginning to end, the government blew this bill, to the point where the Minister of Health was almost faced with the embarrassment of having to pull the bill right off the agenda because it was so flawed. Given the almost unanimous concerns we heard from witnesses, it was clear to me that without work by all committee members in a cooperative fashion and without the government actually accepting some of the opposition amendments, that would have been the case. The minister would have been faced with pulling her very first bill, in terms of legislation, as Minister of Health for the Government of Canada.

Let it be clear that we are going to continue to monitor this process and ask questions about the government's intentions. We had proposed an amendment to delete all level 2 pathogens from this bill, because that was the expressed wish of researchers and scientists across this country. That would have been the appropriate way to go. There would be no reason to believe that research in this country could be curtailed because of the criminal sanctions being imposed on anyone handling pathogens and toxins in this area. The government refused to accept that amendment.

The Bloc makes a very good point about outstanding concerns. I certainly share those concerns, and I want the government members to know we will be further analyzing the bill and determining why the government is playing games with the amendment process. By that I mean denying the work of the committee, pretending there was a flaw in the wording and coming to the House with an amendment that has already been adopted by the House as a result of the work of the NDP and the Bloc.

We have much more to do to try to make the government realize that it is accountable to Parliament and Canadians. It cannot run as though it has no responsibility to Canadians for its actions or to members of Parliament. We believe that the government has shown disregard for the parliamentary process. It ought to learn from the mistakes of this bill. It ought to recognize that proper accountability, transparency and dialogue is needed at every step of the way. I hope the government has learned some lessons from this sorry chapter in the history of its short term in government.