House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was technologies.


Board Of Internal EconomyRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I have the honour to inform the House that Bob Kilger, member for the electoral district of Stormont-Dundas, was appointed as a member of the Board of Internal Economy replacing Don Boudria, member for the electoral district of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell,

for the purposes and under the provisions of chapter 42, first supplement to the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, entitled: An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act.

Board Of Internal EconomyRoutine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Board Of Internal EconomyRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I wish to inform the House that, because of the ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended by 17 minutes.

Board Of Internal EconomyRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.


Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe when you called Order Paper questions I stood and was not recognized.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Saskatoon—Dundurn Saskatchewan


Morris Bodnar LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, Question No. 73 will be answered today.

Question No. 73-

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.


John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

With regard to ground fish on the west coast, ( a ) what species are below average in abundance'', ( <em>b</em> ) what species arevery low in abundance'' and ( c ) what is the scientific data to support the above?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Ted McWhinney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

(a) The following species are considered generally "low to average in abundance", slope rockfish (Pacific ocean perch, redstripe rockfish, yellowmouth rockfish, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish), inshore rockfish (red snapper and other inshore species).

A number of stocks of slope and shelf rockfish are fished, which individually may be from below average to average in abundance. More detail can be obtained in the annual report of the Pacific Stock Assessment Review Committee Groundfish Subcommittee.

Although slope rockfish have generally been considered "below average" for some time, there are indications (at least in areas north of Vancouver Island where the major fisheries occur) that abundance of these species could be "average" rather than "below average". Additional data and analysis will be required to define stock status more precisely.

There are indications that some flatfish stocks (English sole, rock sole, Dover sole) are declining in abundance due to poor stock replenishment during the past decade, particularly in areas to the north of Vancouver Island. Additional data and analysis will be required to more clearly define whether these are "below average".

(b) The following species/stocks are considered "very low in abundance": Pacific cod (all stocks), lingcod in the Strait of Georgia (offshore lingcod are considered at "average" abundance), Petrale sole.

(c) The information above comes from the latest assessment of Pacific groundfish stock status, conducted under the auspices of PSARC in July 1996.

Many kinds of scientific data are used in assessing the status of Pacific groundfish stocks: catch and fishing effort data (from sales slips, fishing logs, dockside monitoring, observer programs), data from surveys conducted on Department of Fisheries and Oceans vessels or in co-operation with industry (using trawls, traps, and acoustic methods), biological sampling data (length, weight, age, maturity), and data on ocean conditions (temperature, salinity, ocean climate trends, currents). The particular mix of data used depends on the specific species and stock. Details on the data and analyses used in assessing stock status are included in the annual reports of the PSARC groundfish subcommittee and in working papers on specific stocks.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.


Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Madam Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members


Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Saskatoon—Dundurn Saskatchewan


Morris Bodnar LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Motion for the Production of Papers No. 6, in the name of the hon. member for Malpeque.

Question No. P-6-

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

That a humble address be presented to His Excellency praying that he will cause to be laid before this House copies of the operating agreement between the Grain Transportation Agency Administrator, Canadian National Railways (CN) and Canadian Pacific Ltd. (CP) dated April 1, 1993, with respect to railway cars supplied for grain service by the Government of Canada.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the operating agreement between the Grain Transportation Agency Administrator, Canadian National Railways and Canadian Pacific Ltd. is not available for tabling at this time.

The government is currently in the midst of structuring the process by which it will dispose of its 13,000 hopper cars, which are governed by the above mentioned agreement. As part of this process, discussions with the railways about revising the operating agreement are currently ongoing.

Public release of this document at this time may well harm the government's ability to negotiate fabourable revisions to the operating agreement, ultimately resulting in a negative impact on the possible value it will get for its hopper cars.

As the document is a private agreement between the railway companies and the government, the companies' views were sought on this matter. They have expressed similar concerns about the tabling of the agreement at this time.

I therefore ask the Honourable Member to withdraw his motion.

(Motion agreed to.)

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

October 23rd, 1996 / 3:50 p.m.


Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Madam Speaker, I ask that the other Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is that agreed?

Motions For PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Some hon. members


Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Sudbury Ontario


Diane Marleau Liberalfor the Minister of Health

moved that Bill C-47, an act respecting human reproductive technologies and commercial transactions relating to human reproduction, be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-47-

-an act respecting human reproductive and genetic technologies.

This government is committed to a regime that protects the health of Canadian women and children, reflects Canadian social values and ethical standards and recognizes the needs of infertile Canadians.

It is our view that a caring society demonstrates its concern by using science and technology to aid those who would otherwise be denied the joy of parenthood, while protecting those who risk being harmed both now and in the future.

Probably the most difficult question most of our parents and indeed some of us in this Chamber faced was how to name their new baby. The choices confronting those who want to become parents today are often much more vast, more technologically complex and have greater repercussions for generations to come than we have ever as individuals and as a society had to deal with.

Couples having difficulty conceiving a child have to decide to seek outside intervention, or not to seek it, as the case may be. They have to make decisions about drugs and treatment regimes. They have to balance their desire to have a child against the potential risks involved. Sometimes these would be parents have to decide whether to involve a third individual, an anonymous donor, in their search for parenthood, whether they are willing to undergo invasive and difficult procedures such as in vitro fertilization and what to do with the embryos that may be created as a result of this procedure.

Women who are already pregnant, whether through natural or assisted means, have to decide together with their partners whether to undergo prenatal diagnosis and what to do with the information once they have it. It is our opinion that we have to develop a two pronged approach to deal with many of these issues.

First, through the legislation before us today, we are proposing to prohibit certain unacceptable technologies. Second, we are developing a regulatory regime to manage safe and effective technologies that are permissible.

The technologies and practices that would be prohibited under today's legislation are ethically and socially questionable. They pose significant threats to the health of those who use them and to the children who are born as a result of their implementation. They have significant adverse effects on the physical and emotional well-being of children and they pose significant threats to the health of the population.

This legislation I believe is valuable in its own right, an important first step in addressing public concerns. But this is yet not enough. That is why the government has also released a position paper outlining a proposed regulatory framework for those technologies that, while acceptable, still require regulation to ensure the safety and well-being of women who depend on them, the children who emanate from their use and families that are created from them in Canada.

What we are proposing is not, as one can imagine, an easy task. Its complexity has required us to consult the status of women, heritage, finance, treasury board, industry, human resources devel-

opment, citizenship and immigration, the solicitor general, agriculture and of course the justice department. All of these ministries have been brought into the consultation process for developing this legislation because they all have interests in the legislation and in the regulatory regime that we are planning.

This government's willingness to tackle an issue of this complexity is in accord with the pledge made in the red book to make the health of women and the well-being of children a priority. It is concrete evidence of our commitment to the health, safety and ethics in the field of new reproductive and genetic technology.

New reproductive and genetic technologies have the potential to enhance the health and well-being of women, children and families. Technologies such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, the process of retrieving eggs from a woman's body, fertilizing them either with her partner's sperm or with that of a donor and implanting the resulting embryo back into the woman's body, have enabled children to be born to those who otherwise might never become parents.

Prenatal diagnosis has been used not only to identify birth disorders, for example, but to identify anomalies that can be corrected at birth thanks to the knowledge gained through diagnostic procedures. These technologies can confer significant benefits on those who use them. They also, unfortunately however, hold within them the potential to threaten human dignity and to treat women and their children as well as the whole reproductive process as mere commodities.

To give one example, to date at least seven advertisements have appeared in student newspapers seeking women willing to sell their ova. In return for cash, they ask otherwise completely healthy women to take powerful drugs with unknown long term effects to stimulate multiple egg production and to undergo invasive and often painful medical procedures to retrieve those eggs. This is an inappropriate use of medical treatment. Even worse, it reduces women and the eggs they carry inside them to sheer commodities.

It is understandable, I think members will agree, when we consider the applications of technology like this one why new ways of intervening in the reproductive process have created hope for many Canadians but have also become a source of unease. The profound social, ethical, legal and health questions they raise challenge our most fundamental values.

Canadians have asked the federal government to exercise national leadership to manage these technologies in a way that protects those most affected and reflects our collective values.

The Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies was created in recognition of the important role of the federal government in the area of new reproductive and genetic technologies.

Members in the House will recall the report entitled "Proceed with Care" as an impressive document, not only for the comprehensiveness of its 293 recommendations but for the means by which the commissioners arrived at those recommendations. Each of those recommendations was based on an ethical framework encompassing the principle of an ethic of care and eight guiding principles and on a thorough understanding of Canadian social values and attitudes.

This comprehensive and solid basis makes it difficult to disagree with the commission's conclusions that it is necessary to establish boundaries around the uses of new reproductive and genetic technologies prohibiting the most egregious and regulating those that are safe and ethical.

Since the release of the commission's report, the federal government has been working on the type of public policy called for by the commission. Because the responsibility for health is shared among the federal, provincial and territorial governments, discussions have been held between the two levels of government to identify possible areas of collaboration.

At the same time, Health Canada held bilateral consultations with some 50 key stakeholders on their reactions to the commission's recommendations. Those consultations expanded on the work of the royal commission. They confirmed that Canada needs a legislative and regulatory infrastructure to deal with the new reproductive and genetic technologies. Further, they demonstrated the necessity for the federal government to exercise national leadership in this area.

In exercising this leadership, we have been guided by a policy framework that includes a set of ethical guiding principles and a focus on the implications of the technologies for children. We have also focused on the prevention of infertility. It is sometimes identified as a priority both by the commission and by our own extensive consultations.

We feel that we must be guided by these basic principles. I will enumerate them for members. First, we must balance individual and collective interest in recognition both of the importance of reproductive autonomy and of the reality of the individual decisions in the area of reproduction that may affect the larger society.

Second, we must strive for equality between men and women. That does not mean that this issue affects men and women in the same way. The physical and social burdens and risks of reproduction are borne primarily by women and this reality should be acknowledged and be reflected as well in this reproductive policy.

Third, we must protect the welfare and dignity of vulnerable persons and groups and particularly the children who may be born through the new uses of these technologies, but also individuals or

couples seeking to use the technologies, as well as persons with disabilities.

Fourth, prevention must be a first priority to lessen the need for medical treatment of infertility. In cases where treatment is necessary there should be a progression from the simplest and least invasive treatment to the more complex. The principles of evidence based medicine must be applied to reproductive health care.

Fifth, non-commercialization of reproduction and of reproductive materials is essential. Commercialization modifies reproduction, offends human dignity and may lead to the exploitation of vulnerable persons or groups.

Sixth, accountability is paramount. Individuals have the responsibility to safeguard their reproductive and sexual health. Governments and medical practitioners have a responsibility to protect the reproductive and sexual health of their communities and of the individuals they serve.

I have given these ethical guidelines certain actions where clearly indicated for the government. It has begun to address the safety issues identified by the royal commission, among them the reported use of fresh semen for donor insemination with its attendant risk of HIV transmission and the potential risks associated with the use of fertility drugs.

Regulations concerning the process of testing and distribution of semen for donor insemination became legally enforceable on June 1 of this year and a surveillance program for drugs used to treat infertility is also being developed.

The voluntary moratorium on some new reproductive and genetic technologies was introduced one year ago. We recognized then that legislation in the area of new reproductive and genetic technologies would require a lengthy development process, therefore the moratorium was announced to cover nine problematic uses of reproductive and genetic technologies, together with the creation of an advisory committee on the moratorium.

This was a positive first step. It has helped the key medical specialties at work in this area in their process of policy formation. However, some unethical practices continue to be offered in Canada.

Many Canadians continue to feel that these issues are too serious for voluntary compliance. Government is responding to these concerns through this legislative action in order to transform the voluntary moratorium into one that is mandatory.

The Human Reproductive and Genetic Technologies Act is based on the common policy and ethical ground identified in extensive consultations with more than 50 stakeholder groups, and with the provinces and the territories. This legislation gives voice to the widespread agreement that some activities conflict so sharply with Canadian values and are so potentially harmful to the interests of the individual and of society that they must be prohibited.

The government has met three goals in this legislation: protecting the health and safety of Canadians; ensuring the appropriate treatment of human reproductive materials; and protecting the dignity and security of all persons, especially women and children.

The prohibitions listed in the legislation include the nine original prohibitions in the voluntary moratorium, together with five additional prohibitions not originally contained in the moratorium. In each case, the risks they pose to vulnerable Canadians and the offence they give to such basic values as equality between men and women and the non-commodification of reproduction justify a strong legislative response.

Let me outline them and explain in the process the ethical underpinnings for each prohibition. The first of these prohibitions is on sex selection. Attempting to select the sex of a child for non-medical purposes is abhorrent to most Canadians. I think most members here will agree. In fact, all of them agree. Despite the inclusion of sex selection in the interim moratorium, there are still at least two clinics in Canada offering this service.

Sex selection can take a number of different forms. It is prohibited under this legislation with only one exception. Sex selection is simply the most basic form of sex discrimination. To value a child primarily on the basis of his or sex is demeaning to the child and contrary to any principle of respect for human life and dignity. It also poses significant threats to the well-being of children.

The knowledge that a child was born primarily because he or she was the "right" sex can cause significant harm to a child's sense of self-worth, to say nothing of his or her siblings who must suffer with the knowledge that they are not the right sex.

If sex selection were widely used, it could cause the male-female birth ratio to become skewed with unknown consequences for our nation.

However, the government recognizes that some very serious genetic disorders are sex related and that parents facing this situation will want to know the sex of the fetus. The legislation allows for this possibility. All other the uses of sex selection techniques are explicitly and firmly prohibited.

The second prohibition is on the manipulation of reproductive materials. A number of prohibitions contained in the act fall into the category of manipulating eggs, sperm, zygotes or embryos for

various purposes. Many of the practices included in this category are somewhat familiar to us, usually from the late, late show on television for those who are insomniacs. Without making light of the issue, that is where they should stay.

Members would be horrified to see what some of those prohibitions include. It suggests practices that are beginning to develop that must be nipped in the bud. One of those is cloning the genetic materials of living or dead human beings or of zygotes, embryos or fetuses. This could produce identical copies of single persons which would diminish the value of human individuality.

We do not know yet what the health implications of being a clone might be. We know even less about whether there are any long term implications for population health by having large numbers of people who are genetically identical.

Another example is that of creating animal-human hybrids whether by using animal gametes together with human gametes or by implanting a human embryo in an animal or an animal embryo in a human. These procedures could potentially produce creatures that would be half human, half animal. The presence of these hybrids is not unusual in folklore but it is eminently undesirable in real life. The formation of such hybrids violates the most basic norms of respect for human life and dignity and denies the embryo's connection with the human community.

A third example is that which involves the altering of the genetic structure of reproductive material so that the alteration can be passed to subsequent generations or to germ-line genetic alteration. This has the potential to permanently alter the human genetic heritage at unknown risk to future generations.

We lack even a preliminary understanding of how genes interact and of how altering one gene would affect others. We do not know how altered genes would act in subsequent generations. It would be inconceivable hubris on the part of any society to risk the health of future generations in this way and completely contrary to any concern for the vulnerability of the children of the future.

A further example is the potential to manipulate the materials of reproduction that coexist with the speculation about the possibility of ectogenesis, that is, maintaining an embryo in an artificial womb until it is born. Its pursuit dehumanizes motherhood and marginalizes women from their previously central role in reproduction.

We have no idea what the health effects for children born in this manner would be. The interactions between a woman and the fetus she is carrying are essentially still a mystery to us. One thing is clear, however, as we learn more about them. These interactions are of far greater significance for the health and well-being of the child than we might suspect. The royal commission describes ectogenesis as "morally reprehensible". We would all be challenged to find anyone who would disagree with that finding.

The third prohibition under this legislation affects reproductive material from fetuses or cadavers. It is an indication of the speed with which developments have been made in this field that when the royal commission released its report, the issue of retrieving sperm or eggs from dead persons had not yet emerged. As members of the House are aware, it has since become a very real possibility.

Thus it is no longer sufficient to prohibit the use of fetal eggs as was the case in the interim moratorium. Bill C-47 must also and does prohibit the use of eggs or sperm from cadavers. To create a child from the reproductive material of a dead person or from eggs retrieved from a fetus is a frightening proposition and could create unknown psychological harm to children born in this manner.

We know that miscarriages are often the source of fetal eggs and we know that fetuses often miscarry because they carry disorders. Without knowing more about what that disorder is and whether it is genetically based, it would be taken unjustified and unjustifiable risks with a child's health to permit the use of the fetus' eggs.

The use of gametes from the deceased in order to create a child is a violation of reproductive autonomy. Even if a person gives permission for his or her gametes to be collected for fertilization after death, the potential for psychological harm to a child born in this way is too great to ignore. This prohibition is not intended to apply to the use of eggs from the fetuses or sperm or eggs from cadavers in research. Rather it is designed to prevent research aimed at producing embryos from this process.

The fourth prohibition is with regard to surrogacy. The effects of the prohibitions I have discussed so far relate primarily to what happens in laboratories. Surrogacy occurs much closer to home. Agreeing to carry and give birth to a child and then surrendering that child to another person or couple in return for monetary gain poses tremendous ethical and health related difficulties.

Surrogacy commercializes reproduction and women's reproductive capacity and it commodifies children. It forces women to undergo the risks and burdens of assisted conception and then of pregnancy and birth. It poses risks to the emotional well-being of children. When the child becomes the subject of a custody dispute or when the child is not wanted by either the birth parents or the commissioning couple, these harms are magnified.

Criminalizing such arrangements carries with it potentially serious penalties for those convicted. For that reason the targets of criminal prohibition have been carefully chosen. Anyone paying or offering to pay a woman to carry a child only to surrender it at birth

will be subject to a criminal penalty, as will any third party acting or offering to act as an intermediary in the surrogacy arrangement for profit.

Women who agree to bear children for others are often vulnerable because of the disparities in power and resources between themselves and those paying for their services. Rather than further burden such women with the risk of prosecution, the new prohibition targets the persons paying for such services. The behaviour of the so-called surrogate is not and will not be criminalized. As well, the legislation permits volunteer surrogacy arrangements so long as no payment is involved.

The fifth prohibition is on the buying and selling of reproductive materials. The prohibition against buying or selling eggs, sperm and embryos is consonant with that against commercial surrogacy arrangements.

Eggs and sperm are the basic building blocks of life. They contain the unique genetic heritage of the human being who produces them. When combined, they form embryos that have the potential to become human beings. To reduce these materials to commodities that can be bought, sold or exchanged for other goods or services is a grave offence to the principle of respect for human life and human dignity.

The practice of permitting payment for sperm and eggs also carries significant health risks. Short term financial need can induce a donor to be less honest about his or her own health and his or her own genetic family history. Unfortunately donor screening is only effective when the potential donor is forthcoming with information regarding his or her health.

Paying sperm donors thus increases the risk to the women who will receive the sperm and the children who may be born as a result. The risks inherent in paying for donated sperm accrue primarily to the recipients and to the children born as a result. There are relatively very few risks to the donor. Selling eggs on the other hand holds the potential for significant physical and medical harm to the donor as well.

A woman who agrees to sell her eggs is generally perfectly healthy. She would have to be in order to pass the same types of screening procedures that are used for sperm donors. She is quite probably not infertile. Yet this perfectly healthy woman will be prescribed fertility drugs with their unknown long term health effects to stimulate multiple egg production. She will also undergo invasive and painful medical interventions to retrieve these eggs. In exchange for the risk and burdens she will bear, she will go home probably about $2,000 richer but she will have taken unknown risks with her own health and her own future fertility.

This government cannot permit the health of vulnerable women and children to be put at risk by allowing a payment based system of sperm and egg donation to continue.

The legislation does allow doctors, clinics and sperm banks to recover expenses involved in the collection, storage and distribution of sperm, eggs and embryos. In addition, because the current practice of paying sperm donors is a significant incentive in donation, there will be a phase-in period for this aspect of the regulation to ease the transition from a commercial to a non-profit and volunteer based system.

The legislation is an advance on the interim moratorium because it prohibits payment for the donation of the human reproductive material for research purposes. This decision was made on the grounds that there is no compelling argument to be made for treating donations for research purposes any differently from donations for other purposes.

The sixth prohibition relates to embryo research. A further set of prohibitions not included in the interim moratorium have been added as a result of our extensive consultations. They have to do with embryo research.

Under the terms of Bill C-47 it will be illegal to use any human sperm, ova or embryos for research purposes without the explicit permission of the donors. Every person has the right to control the use of the products of his or her own body. Failure to obtain consent violates the principles of individual autonomy and respect for the vulnerable.

It will also be illegal to fertilize eggs or to create embryos outside the human body solely for the purposes of research. Some couples choose to donate surplus embryos from in vitro fertilization for research purposes. We acknowledge their generosity in facilitating research that could help other infertile couples. But the field of embryo research is growing and some scientists have argued for a more abundant supply of research embryos than can be achieved through donation. This government does not accept this argument.

Regardless of the potential for embryo research to give us much more information about the human condition, the need for embryos for research is not compelling enough to justify their creation and use solely for this purpose. All human embryos have the potential to become human beings. To create them without this end in mind commodifies them and undermines human dignity.

Finally, it will be illegal to conduct research on human embryos any later than 14 days after conception. Since human embryos may eventually become fetuses which will become human beings, the question of how far into their development research should be permitted is far from merely academic. The issue has been widely debated and there is an international consensus that 14 days is an appropriate end point. Bill C-47 signals agreement with the federal

discussion group on embryo research which accepted this international standard.

In addition to the specific prohibitions that I have outlined here, the legislation makes it an offence to offer to provide or to offer to pay for any of the services prohibited in the act. This will also help to prevent the creation of a supply and a market for these services.

The legislation sets significant penalties for those who are found to be in violation of any of the provisions of the act. There is a maximum penalty of $500,000 or 10 years in prison. As a government we are committed to the principles of non-commercialization of reproduction and the protection of vulnerable women and children. This legislation and the penalties for disobeying it demonstrate that commitment.

Critics of this legislation will argue that prohibiting reproductive practices violates Canadians' rights to reproductive autonomy. I think they forget that no right is absolute when it causes harm to society as a whole or to other individuals. We are mindful of the need to respect reproductive autonomy, but we are also mindful that the practices and uses of technology prohibited in this legislation have the potential for tremendous harm to children, to women and to the value of human life in our society.

Indeed many of the practices that are being prohibited in this legislation themselves have significant implication for women's reproductive autonomy. Factors that affect women's relative social and economic status can render the whole concept of reproductive autonomy meaningless. Some women may be tempted for instance to sell their eggs or to enter into commercial preconception arrangements to support themselves. Without adequate protection such as those found in this act, women can be particularly susceptible to the adverse consequences of these technologies.

Unlike most medical treatments in which the individual alone bears the burden or benefit of the intervention chosen, those using new reproductive technologies pass on those benefits and those burdens to their children. New reproductive technologies have implications for children's health, including the unknown risks arising out of the use of fertility drugs.

Children born through the use of donor gametes face legal uncertainty concerning their familial relationships, and they face uncertain impacts on their emotional well-being. Families of children born through donated sperm or eggs told the commission of the great strain caused by trying to keep the child's origin secret and by the lack of information available to them when and if their child asks about his or her genetic parents.

This legislation does not offend reproductive autonomy. It balances the need to protect the interests of vulnerable women and children with the right of individuals to become parents and the needs of research that will help them attain that goal.

Some may claim that prohibition against buying or selling sperm, eggs and embryos may result in a shortage of sperm for donor insemination. As I said earlier, the prohibition on buying and selling sperm will be phased in over time. This will allow sperm banks and medical professionals to adjust their recruiting practices and will also allow for education and promotion to encourage voluntary donation.

Human reproduction is far too precious to make the use of donated gametes a matter for the marketplace. Our commitment is to the realization of an open gamete donation model with no commercialization and no anonymous donation. This is in line with the international trend away from commercialization and toward more open systems. We are not alone in addressing this issue in this fashion. There are strong international precedents for all aspects of this legislation.

For instance, since 1990 the United Kingdom has prohibited the creation, storage or the usage of an embryo unless subject to a licence. The conditions of the licence include prohibitions against retaining or using an embryo later than 14 days, placing an embryo in an animal, cloning, or mixing human and animal gametes. Separate legislation prohibits commercial surrogacy arrangements.

Germany too has had a wide range of prohibitions in place since 1990, including fertilizing ova for any reason except pregnancy, using technology for sex selection, artificial fertilization after the death of a gamete donor, artificial alteration of human germline cells, cloning, and the creation of animal-human hybrids.

Recently France has created a series of new offences, including the creation or use of human embryos for commercial purposes and the creation of embryos for research or experimental purposes.

Most Australian states prohibit a variety of new reproductive technologies including cloning, the production of animal-human hybrids, altering the genetic structure of an egg or embryo and the sale of gametes or embryos.

This legislation puts Canada squarely in the position of supporting an international trend to limit the uses of science and technology when they contravene deeply held societal values.

This legislation is also squarely within the Canadian tradition of using the criminal law to protect Canadians' health, safety and common values. Most health law is based on misuse of the criminal law and the courts have traditionally recognized these as valid exercises of Parliament's authority.

The decision to prohibit certain technologies and practices was made in light of a commitment to the health and well-being of women, children and families in Canada. It is based upon a strong ethical framework that incorporates the fundamental principles of the non-commercialization of reproduction and the protection of those at risk, particularly the women who use them and the children who are born as a result.

The timely passage of this legislation will provide the needed protection not only to women and children but to a society that has shown it is apprehensive about its impacts.

Its passage, however, still leaves an estimated 500,000 Canadians affected by infertility. The inability to have one's own biological child is a source of grave distress to many people. We take this issue seriously. We believe there is a need for national leadership in responding to the needs of the infertile. That is why the legislation before the House today is but one part of the government's approach to a comprehensive management regime for new reproductive and genetic technologies.

The royal commission recommended, which in this regard has been confirmed by the government's own consultations, that technologies that are ethically and socially acceptable to Canadians and that have been shown to be both safe and effective should be available to Canadians within a regulated framework.

Madam Speaker, I realize you are signalling that I am at the end of my time, but I feel that the seriousness of the topic would warrant a few more moments of reflection. I ask if the House will give its unanimous consent to extend my time another few minutes.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is there unanimous consent?

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Some hon. members


Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank you and my colleagues on both sides of the House for your graciousness.

We cannot ignore the reality that these technologies are already in use in Canada. In 1994 an estimated 8,500 donor insemination cycles were performed in hospitals and clinics across Canada. This is in addition to an unknown number of cycles conducted in the offices of private practitioners. Currently about 5,000 cycles of in vitro fertilization are performed each year in Canada. These procedures result in the birth of as many as 2,000 children each year. So far, however, the regulation of these infertility treatments has fallen almost exclusively to the medical professionals involved. It is clear from both the royal commission's work and from the government's consultation that self-regulation is not sufficient given the wide ranging implications for women and children.

In the late spring of this year we released a position paper outlining the proposed regulatory regime when Bill C-47 was introduced. We have been discussing the proposals in this paper with the provinces and territories and with all the stakeholder groups. We are working to develop a consensus on the most effective regulatory framework for managing new reproductive and genetic technologies. This component of the management regime will be introduced in a second bill which will amend the bill before the House today. The result will be a single piece of legislation containing both prohibitions and regulatory controls that will provide a comprehensive management system.

The government is proposing a system which would regulate the collection, processing, distribution and use of reproductive material to provide infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization and donor insemination and in the conducting of medical research. The same system would also deal with the collection, processing, distribution and use of human fetal tissue for medical procedures and medical research.

Three principles will guide us in our regulatory proposals. First, the protection of the health and safety of Canadians in the provision of medical procedures and in the conduct of medical research. Second, the assurance of appropriate treatment of human reproductive materials and the fetal issue and the recognition of the potential to form life. Third, the protection of the dignity of all people, especially women and children, in relation to the use of human reproductive materials in fetal tissue.

Another function of the regulatory regime would be to establish registries of information regarding the use and long term effects of new reproductive and genetic technologies. These registries would include a donor offspring registry to collect data on the identity of all sperm, egg and embryo donors and any resulting children that might be born from their use; a fertility treatments registry to gather information about the provision outcome of infertility treatments; a drug surveillance program for fertility drugs to track any adverse effects of the drugs on the women and men who take them and any children born as a result of their use; and a health surveillance system to track any short or long term health effects for children born from assisted reproduction.

I have outlined how we will proceed with our legislative program for a comprehensive management regime for new reproduction and genetic technologies. It is a management regime that will protect the interests of vulnerable Canadians, particularly women and children, while addressing the needs of infertile individuals. However, the new reproductive technologies cannot be seen in isolation from concerns about overall reproductive and sexual health.

This government made a red book commitment to a multidisciplinary approach to women's health and one that recognizes the important role of social and economic factors. In this spirit we are developing a framework for sexual reproductive health to co-ordinate national efforts and to facilitate a coherent and integrated response to issues related to sexual and reproductive health.

This framework will provide the basis for a comprehensive strategy for the prevention of infertility with an emphasis on educating Canadians about healthy sexual practices.

The federal government has recently completed the first phase in the provincial-territorial consultations on the framework. Health Canada is also examining the implications of a more open system of information sharing in gamete and embryo donation.

There is a growing recognition that, like adopted children, children born through donated gametes or embryos may wish to know about their genetic parents and even their identities and that the inability to get such information may have negative consequences for them.

Moving toward a more open system with more readily available non-identifying information would be consistent with the goal of the protection of the vulnerable and consistent with the need to recognize the well-being of children as a priority.

Finally, this government is committed to working with the provinces, the territories, non-governmental organizations and the public to examine the place and future direction of prenatal diagnosis and genetics in society.

Even though I am not finished, I realize that I am wearing everyone's patience a little, but I think members can appreciate the seriousness of the content of this bill. I hope that all members will look at it with the same sort of grave approach with which we all have addressed the issue to date and give it not only their thorough and diligent consideration but their support as well.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-47, which is now at second reading. Bill C-47 is a bill respecting human reproductive technologies and commercial transactions relating to human reproduction.

New human reproductive technologies raise many concerns and questions, primarily with respect to the technologies per se. Their development, use and commercialization is growing at a rate that even the main players involved can hardly sustain.

But these concerns are even more troubling, from a social and ethic point of view, when we try to determine what the balance should be between the use of these reproductive technologies and human beings' control over their bodies, which technologies are morally acceptable and which are not, and to what extent they may be used by researchers and infertile couples.

Also, as this exponential growth in genetic medicine and new reproductive technologies, or NRTs, is taking place, a dwindling birth rate is causing some concern and prompting more and more people to turn to these technologies, which emphasizes the urgent need for a framework governing this developing sector.

What kind of framework is required? That is the question we must ask ourselves as we consider this bill.

Many organizations dealing with NRTs and the official opposition as well have pressed the federal government to do the responsible thing and table amendments to the Criminal Code. In response to these various questions, on June 6, the Minister of Health introduced Bill C-47 and a regulatory scheme dealing with NRTs.

Again, this government is proving unable to stick to what was recommended in terms of criminalizing certain procedures. True to itself, it is trying once again, with its proposed regulations, to encroach on exclusive provincial jurisdictions.

Bill C-47 answers but a fraction of the numerous questions raised by this growth sector. It prohibits a number of human reproductive technologies and genetic manipulations as well as commercial transactions relating to human reproduction.

Under these provisions, 13 human reproduction and genetic engineering techniques are now prohibited. Of these, eight were already subject to so-called voluntary moratorium, where those who keep pushing the limits of these technologies further and further were in charge of ensuring that such procedures no longer be used. Needless to say that this voluntary moratorium was a total failure.

The government has always been lax on the issue of new technologies; that is nothing new. As early as 1977, a Canadian coalition of feminist groups asked that a royal inquiry commission be set up immediately to study the impact and the regulations of new reproductive technologies. According to the coalition, it was essential and urgent to hold a debate on the progress made in the use of these technologies and to regulate them. This was in 1977, almost 20 years ago.

The inability of the federal system to adapt and to improve things was once again demonstrated, since we had to wait 12 years before the federal government would listen and finally pretend to act. Twelve years passed. Finally, on April 3, 1989, the government announced, in a speech from the Throne, that a commission of inquiry would review new reproductive technologies and their impact. Twelve years during which there was neither act nor guidelines to regulate a scientific sector that was evolving by leaps and bounds. Twelve years during which everything was allowed in

the name of humanity and science. This is scary, considering that the world's worst atrocities were often committed in the name of humanity and science.

The Baird commission, named after its chairperson, was supposed to complete its work in two years, but finally tabled its final report in November 1993. During these years, the commission heard over 40,000 witnesses and reviewed the works of more than 300 researchers from all over the world. This exercise ended up costing close to $30 million. Incidentally, not one province was consulted at the time of the Baird commission.

In its final report, which required incredible dedication, the commission made 293 recommendations to the federal government. These range from restricting certain practices to completely prohibiting others, such as paying surrogate mothers and selling ova and sperm.

The conclusions and the main recommendations are somewhat similar to those of similar studies conducted abroad, including the Warlock report, released in Great Britain, in 1980. However, the Baird commission also made recommendations beyond the scope of its initial mandate, going as far as dealing with issues as varied as the effect of tobacco and drug use, health and safety in the workplace, family law and civil responsibilities.

But regardless how good a report is, nothing will change if there is no political will on the federal government's part to take the necessary action to correct a situation. This is precisely what is happening with the new reproductive technologies.

After ten years of public debate, after a royal inquiry commission spent four years, at a cost of close to $30 million, to produce a huge report of over 1275 pages and to make 293 recommendations to the federal government, and after experts from Health Canada and the Department of Justice spent over two years reviewing the report, the government was still not prepared to make a move in 1993.

However, in May of 1994, the Minister of Justice said a bill would be introduced in the fall of that year. The answer came over a year after the minister's statement and, far from being the promised bill, it was in the shape of a so-called voluntary moratorium imposed by the former health minister, in July 1995.

This moratorium, with its contradictory tag of "voluntary", asked the principal players in the field of new reproductive technologies to refrain from certain practices, which I will enumerate for you: preconception contracts, in which a woman is paid to be a surrogate mother; the sale or purchase of human ova, sperm or embryos; the selection of a child's sex without a medical reason; free in vitro fertilization for women unable to afford this service in exchange for ova; the alteration of human genetic material present in ova, sperm or embryos and its transmission to a subsequent generation; experimentation to maintain an embryo to term in an artificial uterus; the cloning of human embryos; the creation of hybrids of humans and animals; the use of ova from foetuses or cadavers to produce babies or for research purposes.

A voluntary moratorium on these practices was outrageous. Greeted with absolute indifference, this moratorium was a bald admission of the Liberal government's complete lack of vision in this area.

The former minister herself said that these new technologies were unacceptable, that they threatened human dignity and raised serious social, ethical and health questions, in addition to relegating procreation, women and children to the status of mere commodities. And the response was a voluntary moratorium.

It would allow the main stakeholders in the field of new reproductive technologies the freedom, however, to decide whether or not to continue with what they were doing. In this field, where science is evolving so quickly that even specialists are having trouble keeping up, the main stakeholders were going to be both judge and judged. And during all this time, when the sheep were being guarded by the wolves, the wolves were looking out for themselves and expanding their activities, without a worry in the world.

It is hard to believe, when we look at the pathetically insignificant action taken, that this voluntary moratorium was designed to do anything more than mislead the public into thinking that something was being done.

Less than six months after the moratorium was imposed, and faced with criticism and warnings about the predictable ineffectiveness of these measures, the government had a brilliant idea: create an advisory committee-another one; when they no longer know what to do, they create advisory committees, they create agencies charged with overseeing the advent of new reproductive and genetic technologies and advising the deputy minister of health on the extension of the moratorium to practices other than those initially targeted.

In other words, this committee had no authority to enforce the moratorium because the moratorium was voluntary, and reported infractions observed not to the government but to the deputy minister of health. As though anyone at the health department needed a committee to tell it what everyone knew already, which was that the voluntary moratorium was not putting a stop to anything, and that the situation, far from improving, was taking a turn for the worse.

A striking example of just how bad the situation was becoming was an advertisement placed in a University of Toronto student newspaper last January. This classified ad was for a white woman between the ages of 23 and 32 who would be willing to sell her ova. Although no specific amount was mentioned, we know that such

transactions can turn to about $2,000 or more. This ad caused a general uproar among the public, both in Quebec and Canada.

The uproar was not about to die down, because a similar ad published at Wilfrid Laurier University promised financial compensation, not for the sperm collected, since there is a moratorium on this, but to pay for the time and travel expenses of the generous donor. Needless to say, this ad was intended as a direct attack on the voluntary moratorium requested by the Minister of Health at the time.

Following these disturbing ads in student newspapers at universities, the former Minister of Health said she was upset and very concerned about the fact this was being done commercially and that women and children were more or less being treated as merchandise. She announced a bill that would contain vigourous measures-she said in a matter of weeks-to prevent trafficking in sperm and human ova. This was on January 16, 1996.

In any case, the government managed to table a bill on new reproductive technologies. There will be two stages. Bill C-47, which defines prohibited procedures, and later, regulations that will be added to the bill. Here, we say to improve Bill C-47.

After many years of waiting and statements by the federal government that it would do its duty with respect to NRT, we expected the bill to be far more thorough and comprehensive than is the case with Bill C-47, introduced by the Minister of Health.

This bill is an admission by the government that the voluntary moratorium requested in July 1995 was a failure. Bill C-47, in that it recycles provisions that were already part of the moratorium and adds a few new provisions, may be seen as a more forceful version of the existing moratorium.

We will take a closer look. In section 1-

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Honourable members, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Rosedale-Bosnian Elections; the hon. member for Burnaby-Kingsway-Canada Pension Plan; the hon. member for Lévis-the Joffre Shop.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

In clause 1, the French text lacks the precision of the English text. In fact, the term «manipulation génétique» used in the French version is more restrictive than the English term "genetic technologies". Furthermore, the difference between the short title and the long title is astonishing. The long title is about reproductive technologies and related commercial operations, while the short title adds the term "genetic technologies".

Furthermore, a distinction should have been made between assisted procreation and basic research. In the former, care and treatment are involved, while the latter is about genetic research. These are two specific areas that should be kept strictly separate.

In clause 2, which concerns definitions, we see that the definition of certain terms does not correspond to the medical definition and that a number of technical terms were left out. This will be fertile ground for legal debate when the first violations are dealt with.

In clauses 4(1)( a ) and ( b ), the cloning of human embryos and making animal-human hybrids were already covered by the moratorium. The same applies to the altering of genetic material in clause 4.1( e ), and the use of reproductive material from cadavers or foetuses in clauses 4.1( f ) and ( g ).

In clauses 4.1( h ) and ( i ) we see other controversial measures that were also part of the notorious moratorium, such as choosing the sex of a child on the basis of non-medical criteria.

The same goes for clauses 4(1)( j ) and ( k ) regarding ectogenesis, that is to say, maintaining an embryo in an artificial uterus.

As provided for in clauses 4(1)( c ) and ( d ), Bill C-47 also applies to the fusion of human and animal zygotes and the implantation of a human embryo in an animal.

Clause 5 formally prohibits paying a surrogate mother or using intermediaries for that purpose.

Clause 6, which prohibits the sale or purchase of ova, sperm or embryos, including their barter or exchange for goods, services or other considerations, was already in the moratorium.

Clause 7 bans the use of any sperm, ova or embryo without the informed consent of the donor.

Clause 8 makes Bill C-47 coercive by providing for fines of up to $500,000 and prison terms of up to 10 years. The government wants to send a clear message.

In this respect, if we take the analysis a little further, we can predict that any such fines would be appealed to the Supreme Court. In fact, under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

The 1988 Morgentaler ruling and the 1989 Légère decision established that section 7 of the charter may include certain choices made about one's own body. This section is tied to the notion of human dignity, which includes the right to make certain fundamental decisions free of any government intervention.

Clause 12 gives the minister the right to designate inspectors and analysts. The door is open to giving the minister the power to designate the staff of the agency he would create in phase 2 of the government policy. This clause is typical of the Liberal govern-

ment, which could not care less about the openness this kind of appointment requires.

Bill C-47 is an incomplete measure that is far from meeting the expectations raised by this government. He admits it himself on page 48 of the information paper on setting limits for health protection purposes, which states that the government is now set to start the third and most complex phase of its NRT management information scheme, which consists in developing regulations. The admission could not be clearer and goes to show that most of work lies ahead.

This second phase the federal government is hoping to complete consists in regulating new reproductive technologies by introducing another bill, which will amend Bill C-47. As I said earlier, we have been waiting for comprehensive and responsible legislation since 1977. When all is say and done, there should be a single piece of legislation covering both prohibited procedures and regulations respecting authorized procedures. These procedures would include: in-vitro fertilization; insemination by a donor; the use of foetal tissue; the preservation, manipulation and donation of ova, sperm and human embryos; research on embryos; pre-implantation diagnostic, and postmenopausal pregnancy.

But the proposed regulations contain an element that has become a trademark of the federal government, and this one in particular, namely a national agency to control and monitor new reproductive technologies.

This agency would be responsible for issuing licenses, inspecting clinics and enforcing regulations. It seems it would also be in charge of monitoring the development of NRTs and advising the federal health minister in this respect.

While officially operating at arm's length from Health Canada, this agency would be required to submit to the will of the minister. Page 35 of the aforementioned document states that, by law, the minister could establish general guidelines for the regulatory body. So much for independence.

It goes without saying that setting up a national agency will inevitably result in the establishment of national standards over which the provinces will, of course, have no authority at all.

Even more disturbing is the fact that, in addition to the measures to prohibit or regulate NRTs, this body could be given the responsibility of developing and implementing measures affecting areas other than NRTs.

The Bloc Quebecois repeatedly asked the federal government to criminalize certain practices relating to NRTs. While the provinces have jurisdiction over health, it is incumbent upon the federal government to make changes to the Criminal Code. While this bill appears to meet our wish that certain practices be criminalized, it is not at all an amendment to the Criminal Code which comes under the responsibility of the provincial governments, including Quebec. Rather, this is a parallel act unrelated to the Criminal Code and whose implementation will come under federal jurisdiction.

Indeed, the consent of the Attorney General of Canada is required to initiate proceedings. This implies that the compliance and enforcement activities relating to this act will not come under the responsibility of provincial authorities. This opens the door to the establishment, as already announced, of a national agency to control NRTs. It is this body which, given the federal government's will, would be responsible for managing and implementing applicable rules and, more importantly, which would deal with eventual proceedings under the future act. Such is the real purpose of the bill before us. It is a far cry from what the official opposition asked.

Federal involvement in the health sector, with all the duplication and the unilateral and successive cuts to the funds for the provinces, is a good example of the inconsistency and ineffectiveness of federal interference in an area of provincial jurisdiction.

I do not know how many times I have read the Constitution Act. According to sections 92(7) and (8) of the act of 1867, and based on the interpretation made by the courts, health and social services should come under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec. But this did not prevent the federal government from getting constantly involved, since as early as 1919, and even forcing Quebec to comply with so-called national standards and objectives.

This intrusion, made possible thanks to the federal government's spending authority, allows this government to get involved in areas that come under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces.

The federal government is thus able to redistribute monies in the form of subsidies, tied to conditions that the provinces must meet unless they want to be cut off altogether.

However, these transfers have been reduced in any case, whether Quebec and the provinces met the standards or not. For the past fifteen years, successive cuts have created a shortfall of $12.3 billion in the case of Quebec alone, including $7.9 billion for health care.

These repeated cuts in funding for health care do not show a government that is terribly concerned about the health care system. Of course, these successive reductions in funding were never accompanied by an increase in flexibility with respect to meeting national standards.

This kind of blackmail of using our own tax money, threatens the very future of the health care system as we know it today.

Although the Bloc Quebecois and the Quebec government have pleaded with the federal government to withdraw from health care, the latter has always turned a deaf ear. We see a good example today in Bill C-47 and, especially, the draft regulations which have been announced. However, the government can no longer afford its ambitious policies. We urge the government to give back these financial resources and withdraw altogether from an area that is the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces.

By the way, there has been a first step in Bill C-47, which provides that a province may withdraw from enforcing this regulatory component. However, once again, the first step will be the last.

First of all, it will be up to the federal government to decide whether an equivalent system exists or not. Quebec and the provinces would have no say in this decision. Similarly, should the federal government decide whether an equivalent system exists, it could withdraw from this provincial jurisdiction and then reverse its decision at any time, on the grounds that the province no longer meets the requirements, and it could do so unilaterally, without consulting the province.

Second, it would be not be possible for a province, even if there were an equivalent system, to escape the prohibitions described in Bill C-47, much less receive adequate financial compensation.

In concluding, it is clear that with Bill C-47, this government is looking at far more than criminalization. It is trying to interfere with health care and with the treatment of certain products connected with NRT, activities that clearly come under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.

This is a contradiction of what was requested by the official opposition and the Government of Quebec. It is a contradiction of the division of powers, and finally, because of increasing federal intrusion in health care, it goes against the principles of efficiency and common sense.

I will tell you why the Bloc Quebecois will not vote for Bill C-47. We are against the bill for the following reasons: there is no amendment to the Criminal Code; several clauses, definitions and terms are vague, which could lead to interpretation problems; the bill is incomplete; it announces the creation of a national agency which is unacceptable; and Bill C-47 perpetuates federal intrusion in an area over which Quebec and the provinces have jurisdiction.

We want to ask the Minister of Health and his officials to go back and do their homework.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the subject of human reproduction and the genetic technologies act. This bill is very timely. Research is advancing at an unprecedented rate. We do not yet know the limits of our own research and perhaps we do not know even if there are any limits at all.

The ethical questions raised by our accelerating knowledge are enormous. Just because we are now able to do something, does that mean we should do it? Clearly there are ethical limits to our activities and our answers to these ethical questions will define our society since they deal with the very definition and determination of life.

The commission itself has noted that this issue has moral implications for Canadian society. It is important therefore that all of us put aside our partisanship, study these issues with the sincerity that is deserved and bring our most deeply held beliefs and those of our constituents to bear.

In my own case, as a Christian, I believe that life is a gift of God. While animal and vegetable life are wonderful, beautiful, valuable and necessary life forms, human life is something more. It is distinct, it is different. That is why all people are special and human life must be treated with special dignity. To be human is to be noble. It is a thing of high honour. We are not worthy of that dignity because of utility, because of what we can do or how well we can communicate, or how strong, or how smart or how useful to society we are; humanity is in and of itself a priceless identity.

It is no wonder that the commission wrestled so strenuously with these reproductive issues, since the technology and practices covered in this bill, for example, have spiritual, moral, as well as economic, scientific and social consequences. Perhaps that is why it entitled its report "Proceed with Care".

Since this is the second reading debate I would like to identify the principle of the bill and take a position on it. I would also like to identify two major objections to the bill in its present form in the hope that these will be remedied in committee or by subsequent legislation.

On the content of the bill, clause 4 expressly prohibits 11 listed procedures referred to by some authorities as NRGTs or new reproductive and genetic technologies. These include the cloning of human embryos, the transfer of embryos between humans and other species, the creation of animal-human hybrids, genetic manipulation and the taking and either implanting or fertilizing sperm or eggs from cadavers or fetuses. Clauses 5, 6 and 7 of the bill expressly prohibit two other activities impacting on human reproduction, namely the commercialization of surrogacy arrangements and the buying and selling of eggs, sperm, zygotes, embryos or fetuses.

My first objection is that not all 13 activities proscribed by the bill are of the same order or deserve to be subject to the same prohibitions. For example, there will be legitimate debate in scientific quarters as to whether all of the 11 procedures listed in clause 4 should be subject to a blanket prohibition or whether some of the proscribed activities should be allowed to proceed under strict scientific controls for the sake of increasing our understanding of human life and enhancing its proper development.

It is also apparent that those activities listed in clauses 5 and 6 relating to surrogate mothers and providing the prerequisites for in vitro fertilization are qualitatively different from the activities covered by clause 4. They should, therefore, be subject to a different form of regulation so as not to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of childless couples and their doctors seeking to improve the couples' chances of having children. In other words, I am saying that the bill should be split, that the subject matters of clauses 5, 6 and 7 should be dealt with in a different manner from the activities proscribed in clause 4.

The broad principle of the bill before us is to bring all the described activities under regulation by law. This principle of regulation by law is one which I support and I would urge my colleagues to support it as well.

As I said earlier, we are dealing here with the very building blocks of human life. We are not dealing with property. We are not dealing with inanimate matter. We are dealing with human life.

While I and my party are great believers in the marketplace, I do not believe that marketplace mechanisms are appropriate mechanisms for governing technologies and procedures for the reproduction of human life. None of us believes that human beings should be bought and sold, although there was a time when European and American law tolerated such practices and such transactions were governed by market mechanisms.

The most basic principles of Canadian law and Canadian society condemn and prohibit any trafficking in human life. I would not like to see those principles violated by now permitting unregulated market forces, the impersonal play of supply and demand, to regulate reproductive or genetic altering practices.

At the same time, most of us in the House have great respect for science and the managerial and peer group assessment processes which govern scientific activity. We are also well aware that self-regulation of the development and application of new technologies by science is not without danger and in the past has been insufficient to prevent gross misuse of technologies such as nuclear and germ warfare technologies, destructive to human life.

As history has shown, science can be counted on to ask of technology can we. It cannot always be counted on to ask should we. If the scientist out of moral conviction does answer the question should we, and the answer is no, science does not have the capacity to ensure that no means no.

For these reasons science itself cannot stand as the sole regulatory gatekeeper of new reproductive and genetic technologies. I therefore suggest that regulation of the reproductive technologies and genetic altering practices identified in the bill cannot be left to unregulated market forces or to the good intentions of the science community but must be made subject to regulation by law. This is the basic principle of the bill for which I would urge qualified support.

The second objection to this bill is more substantive. While agreeing with the principle that the reproductive technologies and genetic altering practices referred to in this bill should be subject to regulation by law, I do not believe that this should be regarded as synonymous with direct regulation by the government.

The preamble of the bill states that the Parliament of Canada acknowledges the health and ethical dangers inherent in the commercialization of human reproduction. The Parliament of Canada should also acknowledge that there are health and ethical dangers in direct state regulation of reproductive and genetic technologies. Historically, the greatest abuses of reproductive technologies and genetic research have not been perpetrated by private enterprise for commercial reasons; they have been perpetrated by governments for ideological and political purposes.

The most frightening example of such atrocities is of course the Nazi regime which conducted genetic experiments in the name of racial purity, in the hope of creating a super race. Experiments in the former Communist bloc and even by well-intentioned governments throughout the western world testify to the dangers when the state is allowed to play the role of God.

Unfortunately the enforcement and regulatory section of this bill is very rudimentary and incomplete. It is the weakest part of the entire bill. It calls for offences under the act to be determined by inspectors designated by the minister and calls upon the courts to impose fines or terms of imprisonment in respect to offences under the act. The governor in council is empowered to make regulations for carrying out the purposes and provisions of this act.

We have no confidence that this rudimentary regulatory regime is adequate for the purposes of the act and are convinced that it is not adequate to prevent abuses of reproductive technologies and genetic altering practices by the state itself. It is our understanding that this bill is to be followed soon by another statute specifically outlining a better form of regulation. Our recommendation would

be that regulation of these technologies by law be assigned to a quasi-judicial regulatory tribunal acting at arm's length from the government itself.

In summary, I would therefore urge hon. members to support the bill in principle, the principle being that the practices described in this bill should be subject to regulation by law.

Second, I urge members to support the splitting of the bill so that technologies and practices immediately applicable to assisting childless couples to have children are dealt with separately from the other practices prohibited by this bill.

Third, I urge members to recognize that total state control over the technologies described in this bill could be as dangerous to Canadians as unfettered commercialization and that regulation of such activities should be entrusted to a quasi-judicial regulatory body at arm's length from the government.

I must add that my support in principle does not imply support for any subsequent bill setting out this regulatory framework. Unless such a bill spells out adequate safeguards against abuse of power by the state as well as by the marketplace or by scientific researchers, we will be obliged to oppose it at that time.

I trust that these observations will be helpful to other hon. members. I look forward to their contributions in the debate, as the secretary of state mentioned earlier, on this very grave and serious matter.