Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the amendment to clause 60 of Bill C-7. It says that the clause should be amended by replacing lines 13 to 15 on page 44 with the following:
"portion of an item, after the governor in council has consulted with those persons who will be directly affected by the amendment".
The parliamentary secretary responded to the amendment by asking why we need it. We already have the proper bells and whistles in place to deal with the public consultation process.
The parliamentary secretary to the health minister is correct. The amendment will put in place the requirement for public discussion and public consultation on changes to the bill.
In many pieces of legislation the Liberals have succeeded in taking more and more power from the people by putting in place the ability to make changes to legislation through the governor in council. This is one such move on the part of the government. The most important example in Bill C-68, the gun control legislation, gives incredible power to the governor in council. Bill C-61 deals with several agricultural acts and gives the minister and the bureaucrats the power to impose fines of up to $15,000 with the onus on the people fined to prove their innocence. That is one negative point about the legislation. Another is the control given through the governor in council without debate happening in the House. That is not democratic.
Unfortunately the anti-democratic move in the bill that gives more power and ability to make more decisions through governor in council is not unusual. The government has shown in many ways that it does not want to make things more democratic in the House. We have seen through what has happened to members who dared to vote against their party line or against the government on bills such as the gun control bill, Bill C-41. I could name others. These members have been punished harshly for voting differently than the party position. They have been thrown off committees and the Prime Minister publicly threatened to refuse to sign their nomination papers. What kind of a democracy is that?
The amendment will at least ensure a small amount of consultation. Liberal consultation is different from the Reform's version of consultation. Reform believes that when we go to the people to ask for consultations we really want to hear what they have to say and to act on it. The Liberals have shown that is not what they see as consultation. For example, in the gun control bill the justice minister's idea of consultation was to have meetings to which people went by invitation only. Other interested people were not welcome. That was complete and utter nonsense. The amendment will in a small way give a bit of the power back to the people by requiring consultation.
I will refer to a couple of other amendments but first I will show that this amendment has in a small way dealt with the concerns of some of my constituents. I have found that Bill C-7 and the changes to the legislation are very important to people in my constituency. Many people have come to me in public meetings asking questions about specific clauses of the legislation, and this is one of them. People have written letters to me that refer to specific clauses of the legislation.
I will read a letter from one of my constituents. It is a form letter but personal comments are included with it. It represents the concerns of a wide number of people, often people who want access to herbs, spices or other traditional medicines. They do not want the pharmaceutical companies or the government to be able
to limit access to these products in some way. It is very important to them.
The letter states:
I'm writing to request that Bill C-7 be withdrawn.
That is what should have happened with the legislation. It should have been withdrawn, or at least large parts of it should have been withdrawn. It is an omnibus bill that deals with many parts of the act. It is so broad or wide ranging that I wonder how the House of Commons can be asked to vote on the bill. It would be far more useful to have more specific legislation dealing with similar concerns.
Not all parts of the legislation should be thrown out. There are many good parts. However, because it is an omnibus bill and deals with a wide range of issues, parts of it should certainly be thrown out. The letter refers to the parts this constituent feels should be thrown out. A good summary of the legislation is given:
Bill C-7, the Controlled Substances Act, combines the Narcotic Control Act with the portions of the Food and Drugs Act. Combining criminal law with regulatory health is inappropriate and puts my right to buy natural health products in serious jeopardy.
Bill C-7 is a Criminal Code framework which would implicate many common herbal remedies and natural supplements because of their "stimulant" or "relaxant" properties. I believe that public safety can be ensured without Criminal Code restrictions on food supplements-