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.