House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.


Veterans WeekOral Question Period

October 31st, 1996 / 3:05 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.


Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSecretary of State (Veterans)(Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in my place today as November 11 approaches to pay tribute to Canadians who gave their lives for their country in two world wars, the Korean war and in peacekeeping operations around the world. Their sacrifice protected the democracy Canadians cherish today.

On Monday, November 11 we will pause for a minute of silence to mourn the loss of these Canadians. At cenotaphs from one end of the country to the other and in cemeteries around the world where Canadians lie, we will remember them. But today as I remind this House of the coming ceremonies to mark the sacrifice of those who never returned from war, I would also like to remind our colleagues that in the coming week we are also going to pay tribute to the people who did come home.

The Prime Minister has declared the week of November 3 to 11 as veterans week. It is an occasion when people across the country can reflect upon the achievements and sacrifice of Canadians during wartime and in peacekeeping operations around the world.

Canadian veterans have served with distinction, winning respect and gratitude. I would remind this House that these Canadians were drawn from the entire country. They built the foundations of our national spirit.

Hon. members will recall that last year Canadians celebrated veterans week as part of the Canada Remembers program which marked the 50th anniversary of the end of the second world war. Veterans Affairs Canada was very pleased to help co-ordinate many of the events which paid tribute to our veterans. I know many

individual Canadian men and women enjoyed the opportunity to re-create emotions, both happy and sad, from their youth.

Perhaps most important of all, the Canada Remembers celebrations last year gave many of today's young Canadians their first history lesson about what our country accomplished during the war. It gave an opportunity for one generation to speak to another. Young Canadians have grown up without the spectre of war casting its chill over their future. They could be excused for taking our cherished freedom for granted.

I hope that during this year's veterans week we will once again create the bond between the generations that will invite an older generation to tell its stories to a younger generation. I hope too that teachers across the country will use this week to talk to students about Canada's proud history and the important role we played on the international stage during these years.

Finally, I hope that Canadians of all ages will take time to honour those who gave so much of themselves, both overseas and on the home front, to bring Canada through those trying times.

I invite all members of this House to help us honour Canada's veterans during veterans week and indeed all year long.

Veterans WeekOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.


Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in this House today, in my capacity as the Bloc Quebecois critic for veterans affairs, to acknowledge, as is tradition, Remembrance Day and Veterans' Week, which will run from November 3 to November 11.

The least we can do is to set some time aside every year to remember the men and women who served in the two world wars and in the Korean conflict.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank all those who served at the front, the sailors and airmen from all regions of Canada, the members of the merchant navy, the nurses, and all the men and women who risked or gave their lives to overcome tyranny.

Need we remind the House that over 100,000 young Canadians and Quebecers died in the two world wars, while hundreds of others were killed in Korea and the various peacekeeping missions?

Unfortunately, many bloody conflicts are still raging around the globe. I cannot help but think about the serious consequences of the conflict between the Tutsi rebels and the Zairian army. Over 1 million refugees are caught in the middle. Yet, the international community seems totally incapable of mobilizing and intervening between the warring factions. Worst of all, the humanitarian agencies had to leave the area immediately. The consequences are extremely serious. We may be powerless to prevent another disaster for humanity.

If I mention the tragedy unfolding in Zaire, it is because I am also thinking of all those who assume the responsibility for maintaining peace in the world, particularly the Canadian peacekeepers. As you know, more than 2,000 Canadian peacekeepers are currently deployed overseas in places like Bosnia and Haiti.

Today we remember the sacrifices made by those to whom we owe this legacy of freedom and democracy, and by all those who are now working for peace.

The extensive human losses and the horrible suffering endured by all the people caught in these endless wars defy understanding. What can we say to the widows and orphans, the brothers and sisters who lost loved ones forever?

All these brave people fought, all these lives were sacrificed so there would be no more wars. So that future generations would be spared all this pain and suffering.

Again, I join with all my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois in expressing our sincere gratitude to all those who gave their lives and, of course, to all the survivors of these tragedies. Let us not forget there are still many survivors who deserve all our admiration and support.

In this regard, I condemn this government's lack of consideration for the members of the merchant marine. Their concerns must be considered a priority. We must make every effort to ensure that this government pays due attention to the views of merchant marine veterans and holds proper consultations with the coalition representing them.

Having said that, I will conclude my speech by saying how much the Bloc Quebecois wants to honour the memory of our veterans and pay them a fitting tribute.

Veterans WeekOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, six Books of Remembrance lie in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower, each page bearing the names of those who died carrying the torch of freedom.

Over 114,000 Canadians were killed during the course of World War I and World War II and the Korean war. Many more returned battered in body and spirit.

The peace, security and freedom you and I enjoy comes as a result of the blood they shed and the courage and determination they devoted to casting aside the tide of oppression. Their fate, our future; what a very great price to pay, what a very great debt to owe.

The Memorial Chapel bears the inscription: "They are too near to be great but our children shall understand when and how our fate was changed and by whose hand".

Last fall during the Far East pilgrimage, I stood with youth delegates before a marker on a grave in the Commonwealth Cemetery in Yokohama, bearing the name of a young man who at age 19 died as a prisoner of war. He had been captured at Hong

Kong three years prior at age 16. The impact this marker left on our minds and hearts will never be forgotten.

It also took me to my stepfather, Stanley Edward Akrigg, who died in January at age 96. He was a big boy and he joined the Canadian army in 1914 at the age of 15. At the age of 17 he won the military medal and fought in the battles of Vimy Ridge, the Somme and Passchendaele. Two days before his 19th birthday, in October 1918, he lost his brother, who served in the same regiment, to a German artillery shell.

It also brought to mind my cousin, Ronald Loughton Movold, who was a tail gunner in a Lancaster bomber. He lost his life in Europe in April 1944.

The torch of remembrance must pass to those too young to have known the Canadian warriors who were too young to die. The poppies we wear are a time honoured symbol of their sacrifice. They were inspired by the poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae after surviving 12 days of heavy bombardment in his Belgian bunker on May 3, 1915. Through the shelling he saw a cemetery across the road filled with red poppies. Tearing a page from his diary, he wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields". We are responsible to remember their gallant contributions so their sacrifice will not have been in vain and to ensure that we preserve the precious rights and freedoms for which they died.

We must also remember the tens of thousands of Canadians who have served in more than 30 individual missions over 36 years of Canadian peacekeeping. More than 100 Canadian forces personnel have lost their lives and hundreds more have been wounded during peacekeeping tours. They too must be remembered.

Our gulf war veterans were exposed to the intensity and volatility of modern day warfare during their fight to preserve the delicately balanced stability in the Middle East. During the war, many Canadians witnessed on their television screens a blaze of oil fires and exploding warheads. In service to our country and the global community, Canadian lives were scarred. Here too we find personal tragedies and sacrifice.

Veterans week, November 3 to 11, is a time to pause, remember and accept our heroes' challenge: "Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields".

Veterans WeekOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I join with my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus today in the House of Commons to pay tribute to Canadian veterans. We pay tribute particularly to those who made the supreme sacrifice: those men and women in the army, the navy, the air force and the merchant navy who gave their lives in World War I and World War II; those who died in the Korean war; those who have died in the course of peacekeeping operations.

Fortunately no one died in the Gulf war but as the member for Saanich-Gulf Islands indicated, there is evidence that people who served in the Gulf war have a variety of lasting effects which need to be acknowledged by the government.

That is why when we gather on Remembrance Day we pay tribute not just to those who died but also to those who came back, as the legion says in one of its creeds, after having given the best years of their lives.

A long time ago, just before my 20th birthday I was cycling with a friend through Holland. We came to a big monument. We had stopped at the Canadian war cemetery at Bergen op Zoom. We went for a walk through the beautiful place which has been kept wonderfully by the Dutch all these years. We realized what we had stumbled upon. We spent a couple of hours there because we were struck with the row upon row upon row of Canadians who were buried there. It struck me that at the time of their deaths they were about the same age as I was then, 19.

It was not until 10 years later that I had an occasion to visit the cemetery at Adagem in Belgium and another 10 years later I visited Vimy. The older I get, the more it is impressed upon me how young these people were, giving more meaning to the passage which is used at every Remembrance Day service: "They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn". If anyone has ever lost a relative not necessarily in war but to an accident at a young age, we all know what that means. Those people are forever youthful in our imaginations. They grow not old.

I was struck, as I always am, by images of those cemeteries, by the images of the Menin gate outside the village of Ypres where the names of 35,000 Commonwealth soldiers are inscribed who have no known grave. Every week the people of that town gather to do a last post ceremony at the Menin gate. They have been doing that since 1918 with the exception of the years when the town was captured during the second world war.

I say this because in Europe, whether it is in Holland, or at the Menin gate or elsewhere, people appreciate what Canadians and other Commonwealth and allied soldiers gave at that time. I think we in Canada could do no less. I often feel that we do not appreciate to the extent that we should what our veterans gave.

I hope this Remembrance Day and in Remembrance Days to come that future generations will be lucky as my generation was. My grandfather served in the first world war, my father in the second world war, but my generation was not called to war. I hope

that will continue to be said about my son's generation and my grandson's generation. We all should devote ourselves to that goal.

Veterans WeekOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, I wish to pay tribute to the many Canadians who sacrificed so much for the peace and freedom we enjoy today.

The first world war ended at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 and the devastation was felt deeply. In just a few short years the lives of 70,000 Canadians were lost and twice as many were wounded in the name of peace. I know because my uncle served overseas and was wounded very badly at that time.

The second world war, a horrifying episode in history, claimed the lives of 45,000 Canadians and many thousands more were hurt. Many did come back home and we thank God for that.

Canadians also gave their lives during the Korean war and our armed forces answered when the United Nations called for action to put an end to Iraqi aggression against Kuwait.

Two of my brothers served in the second world war. They were in Belgium, Holland and France. It was not easy. It was not easy for my mother who made all of those fruitcakes to send over to them, who made all of their little pillows. She sent over their socks that she knitted. She cried as she waited for the mail to come, hoping and praying that they would come home safely. Luckily, both of them did.

Canadians have never backed down or run away in the face of aggression. Canadians know that to ensure world peace, the laws that govern relationships among nations must be respected and enforced. That is why we have almost 2,000 members of the Canadian military serving throughout the world on peace and humanitarian operations.

This year marks the 51st anniversary of the end of the second world war. On Remembrance Day, November 11, I would ask everyone to make a commitment to honour the sacrifices made by so many Canadians and to honour all of those who returned.

Last year in Holland during the VE Day celebrations, Canadian veterans were treated like the heroes they are for their role in the liberation of that country. Here at home we must never forget the risks these heroes took and the sacrifices they made so we can enjoy the country, the peace and the freedom we have today. A freedom we often take for granted for which a very high price was paid.

Out of thankfulness, respect and gratefulness, we must work harder than ever to preserve and protect the programs vital to the

well-being of so many veterans. I say that because many of our veterans come to see me because they are worried about the cuts in the last post fund. We must look after our merchant navy vets as well.

Today I say thank you to those who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy. I say thank you to those who continue to wear the uniform of Canada for their extraordinary service to us.

Let us never forget the high price that was paid so that we can live in peace, individually and collectively. We must be vigilant about maintaining that peace.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, there was a misunderstanding yesterday, at the end of the debate on Motion M-221. I believe I now have the unanimous consent of the House to consider that the recorded division on the motion has been called for and that, consequently, the vote will take place on November 5, as was agreed during the discussions. However, there was a misunderstanding yesterday on the part of the opposition, regarding the motion tabled by the government.

Therefore, I believe I have the unanimous consent to hold a vote on Tuesday, and I thank the chief government whip for behaving like a gentleman regarding this issue and for showing great openness and understanding.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Is there unanimous consent?

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


The House resumed from October 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, an act respecting human reproductive technologies and commercial transactions relating to human reproduction, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I am directing my remarks today to Bill C-47, an act respecting human reproductive technologies and commercial transactions relating to human reproduction.

This is an important subject touching on moral, ethical and scientific issues and economic issues as well, plus the role of the state in private lives. It is also a subject I have a personal interest in. I have dealt with infertile couples, helped by test tube procedures in my own medical practice, helping them to fulfil their fondest dreams to have a family. I cannot forget the joy, the excitement and the satisfaction of those individuals as they were successful in having their children.

This is not an academic or dispassionate subject but one that has a personal interest for me. Since it also touches upon life itself and my personal and strongest beliefs as a Christian individual, I put these practices into my personal belief structure that life is not just an accident, that there is a higher authority.

Let me start by saying that Reform's approach on a bill like this one is very specific. There is a moral component to this bill. I state my position as a Reform MP, provide the facts to my constituents, determine the position of my constituents, and vote their wishes if a clear consensus is evident. I want the Canadian public to know that I am in the process of doing that right now. My householder is going out with a questionnaire on human reproductive technology.

The objects of the bill are threefold: (a) to protect the health and safety of Canadians in the use of human reproductive materials or assisted reproduction, other medical procedures and medical research; (b) to ensure the appropriate treatment of human reproductive materials outside the body in recognition of their potential to form human life; and (c) to protect the dignity of all persons, in particular, children and women, in relation to uses of human reproductive materials. Those are noble goals, but how shall we reach those goals?

The bill has prohibited a number of things. The prohibitions are strenuous. The first prohibitions are almost science fiction procedures that are possible but not plausible for most Canadians, such as the fusion of human and animal egg and sperm, the implanting of a human embryo into an animal. These activities are abhorrent to most Canadians. Strong controls are reasonable in these areas.

The second area of prohibitions are the attempts to control assisted reproduction by making commercialization of these practices illegal. These activities today are controlled by self-regulating professional bodies with standards for licensing, training, technology and ethics. The actual things being controlled in this area are much more available to Canadians. For instance, sperm donation is currently available. Donors are paid for their donation. That would not be allowed under the bill. Under the bill a sister could not bear a family member an infant, be a surrogate mother, and receive compensation for time lost at work. In the bill as well an altruistic woman could not donate extra eggs to receive services she could not otherwise afford.

Controls are probably necessary in this area. How stringent should they be? Some of these decisions are personal and private.

Many consider such decisions to be too private for governmentto intervene.

Since the science fiction procedures and the assisted reproduction procedures are not of the same magnitude, the bill should reflect that significant difference. A division of the bill would be useful.

On enforcement in the bill, criminalization, penalties for breaking the prohibitions are very severe: $500,000 fine and 10 years of imprisonment for breaking some of the prohibitions. On the regulatory apparatus that will likely follow the bill, we have had a discussion paper laying that out. The bill is quite vague. Clause 12 says the minister can designate anyone he wants to be an inspector or an analyst. Clause 13 says the governor general can make regulations unspecified. These are big powers and big issues. It sounds like: "Just trust me and all will be well".

First, I accept the principle that these technologies require regulation by law. In principle I accept the bill at this stage of the debate.

Second, I urge the government to divide the bill along the lines of science fiction procedures on one hand and the commercial aspects of childless couples on the other.

Third, I do not accept the premise without more discussion that harsh penalties and criminalization are necessary or advisable in this area.

Fourth, I remain sceptical that government monopolistic regulation is the only or the ideal way to control such activities.

Fifth, I have gone over the reproductive consultation process which was very thorough. In Bill C-47 and the proposals that will follow I find many definitions and phrases that are vague, such as human dignity and protecting the dignity of all persons. To leave that undefined for me is very difficult. By whose definition do we look at dignity?

I present these thoughts for other members' consideration and review. My colleagues and I will carefully review the bill at committee hearings.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.


Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to debate Bill C-47, the new reproductive and genetic technologies act.

Many people in Canada today live with the knowledge that they are at risk of passing on a serious sex related disorder to their children. They have witnessed at close range the devastation that these disorders, for example hemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy, can wreak on those who suffer from them and on their families and friends. For many the only alternative to the risk of

passing on the disorder that is acceptable to them is not to have children at all. That is a very high price to pay.

The development and availability of prenatal diagnosis and other technologies which permit couples to find out the sex of an embryo or fetus have meant that they can for the first time make informed decisions about whether and under what circumstances to have children.

There are some people, however, who have strong preferences for children of one sex, not for health reasons but solely for personal or cultural reasons. The same technology that provides such profound assistance to couples who risk passing on genetic diseases, the families who are facing potential tragedies, can also be used to satisfy the desires of people who for varying reasons strongly want a boy or a girl.

Using technology to try to predetermine the sex of an embryo or, even worse, using prenatal diagnosis simply to choose the sex of a child is a practice which I believe is abhorrent to the majority of Canadians.

The government examined the issue carefully and concluded that there are serious grounds upon which to prohibit sex selection for non-medical reasons. The practice puts vulnerable people at risk, particularly children and women. It contravenes our country's commitment to equality between the sexes. It is an inappropriate use of medical resources.

For these reasons Bill C-47 makes it illegal to use technology to try to influence the sex of an embryo or to determine the sex of a fetus.

When we talk about sex selection we are talking about three different uses of technology, each with the same goal. The first method of sex selection takes place before conception. An egg, fertilized with X bearing sperm, leads to the birth of a girl. One fertilized with Y bearing sperm leads to the birth of a boy. It follows that if the X can be separated from the Y the likelihood of having a child of the desired sex can be increased. Once separation has occurred the gender of a child can be predetermined.

This method of sex selection is not always effective, but there is enough of a market for it that two private clinics have been opened in Canada, as well as clinics in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

The second method of sex selection has arisen from the practice of in vitro fertilization. IVF results in the creation of embryos outside the body, usually more embryos than can safely be transferred back to the woman's body. Some criteria are necessary to decide which embryos should be transferred to the womb. A technique called pre-implantation diagnosis involves removing several cells from an embryo while it is outside the body and examining them for the presence of chromosomal or genetic disorders. Embryos with any disorders obviously would not be implanted.

The pre-implantation diagnosis can also be used to determine the sex of the embryo. Those who have strong preferences for the sex of their child can arrange for the embryos of the desired sex to be transferred back to the woman's body. The first two methods are used before pregnancy has been established.

The third method is used much later in the development of the fetus. Prenatal diagnosis, usually amniocentesis or ultrasound, can be used to determine the sex of a fetus.

Protecting vulnerable members of society including children, respecting the Canadian commitment to sexual equality and ensuring that medical resources are used appropriately are the principles underpinning the prohibition on sex selection for non-medical reasons. Sex selection renders children vulnerable to a range of harm. The impact of sex selection on children's emotional well-being can be profound. It is not he alone who bears the burden imposed by sex selection. Siblings can also be harmed by the belief that they are not the right sex and that they are not as deserving of their parents' care and love. Children's self-esteem and sense of self-worth are fragile. The knowledge that their parents prefer a child of the opposite sex can do untold damage and the effects can last a lifetime.

Women can also be made vulnerable by the use of sex selection technology. Some women, particularly those from cultures where male children are more highly valued, have been subjected to pressure to use sex selection techniques to ensure they give birth to sons. This pressure can take the form of threats of marital breakup and violence. We are not as far removed as we perhaps thought from the days of Henry VIII.

Women representing minority communities have made great efforts to resist pressures for sex selection within their communities and to promote the wider adoption of fundamental values such as sexual equality.

The government does not want to undermine or compromise its efforts. Respect for cultural differences cannot be used to justify coercion. Countries where preference for male children is strong have seen a skewed birth ratio since the advent of prenatal diagnosis with many more males born than the normal birth ratio of about 51.5 males for every 48.5 females.

There is little evidence that the availability of sex selection for non-medical reasons could have as significant an impact in Canada. However, the consequences of even a relatively small change in the ratio of males to females are not known. In the absence of this information it would be foolhardy to risk tampering with ratios that have developed over thousands of years of human existence to allow for the continuation of our species.

For those reasons sex selection is sex discrimination. Society should not allow technology to be used to promote some arbitrary standard of the ideal family as consisting of both sons and daughters.

Sex selection techniques involve the use of limited health care resources. Except for sex related genetic disorders they are not medically necessary services. They do not treat or avoid disease. Nor do they promote human health.

People in this country view their health care system as one of the defining elements of being Canadian. To squander such a precious resource in ways that are ethically questionable would be wrong. The government is acting to ensure this does not happen.

After much consideration and consultation with stakeholder groups, the government has come to the conclusion that sex selection is so unacceptable to Canadian values and to the health and well-being of Canadian children that it cannot be provided.

Sex selection offends notions of sexual equality and of protection for the vulnerable. It has the potential to harm vulnerable women and children. It could have unknown impact on population health in the future should a skewed sex ratio be the result. It is an inappropriate use of our finite health care resources.

For all these reasons the government is prohibiting sex selection for non-medical reasons through the new reproductive and genetic technologies act. I am pleased to speak in support of the bill.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I must congratulate my government colleague on her speech. She has clearly listed all of the dangers of the new technologies if time is not taken to criminalize them, if we do not come up with a detailed and responsible bill.

I would like to return to Bill C-47 on a somewhat more technical level. I would like to ask her whether she agrees with what I am going to set out. These clauses, in my opinion, might lead to legal debates, and I therefore feel that this bill is incomplete.

In clause 1, there is an inaccuracy in the French text compared to the English. The French says "manipulation génétique", while the English says "genetic technologies". I would like to begin by asking whether she grasps the difference between the two.

In the explanation given on the short title, reference is made to assisted procreation, and this is confused with basic research. I believe that, when assisted procreation is referred to, what is meant is the provision of care and treatment, while on the other side there is medical research in genetics. I would like to know whether she does not think that combining these two is dangerous. I feel these are two completely different things.

I would like to know whether these definitions have really been studied seriously by the members of the government in connection with Bill C-47. I am only at clause 1, and could refer to them all up to 49. I believe this bill is totally vague, that it is not clear and will lead to legal wrangling. Could she answer me on this?

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, indeed I could respond. With regard to the first part of the hon. member's question on manipulation génétique and the phrase in English, I am not an expert in the French language. If it has a different meaning I can only suggest to the hon. member that this is something that should be brought forward at the committee stage of the bill.

I am sure that the people at the committee, the clerk of the committee, the researchers, the people responsible in the Translation office, will correct those words. That is a housekeeping kind of correction and I do not think it is incumbent on me in my knowledge of the bill to make any kind of response. I suggest the hon. member bring it to the committee.

On some of the other questions-goodness knows I am a lawyer and I am used to splitting hairs-but on May 4, 1994 the member for Drummond complained in the House about the government's slowness to act on this issue. I can only suggest with regard to some of the questions that she is putting in a hair splitting manner-I do not know if she shares my profession or not, if she does not she should because she is good at it. She said such an action would have major impact on ethics and research and that we were too slow.

These kinds of questions do not help to speed the delivery of the bill. I would be delighted to address any questions the member might have on the substance of the bill. With questions that really relate to terminology, the short title and definition I think she knows there is a legislative branch and people in committees that can solve these problems. I would hope that the hon. member might have questions with more substance to bring to the debate.

Human Reproductive And Genetic Technologies ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to Bill C-47, the new reproductive and genetic technologies act.

It is not often that legislative measures come with an explicit ethical framework attached. Bill C-47 addresses issues that touch our most basic beliefs about the nature of human life, the value which we attach to it and the role of reproduction and parenthood in our society.

Following the lead of the royal commission on new reproductive technologies, the federal government developed an ethical framework to guide its policy development in the area of new reproductive and genetic technologies. These principles are outlined in the

petition paper that the government released at the same time it tabled Bill C-47. The government did this in the belief that ethical principles must be open to public scrutiny and debate if they are to have any meaning. I would like to touch on some of these now.

One of the ethical principles guiding the government's policy making is the need to balance individual and collective interests. Individual autonomy is a value that Canadians espouse but decisions are not made in a vacuum. Every individual is part of the larger society and decisions made by individuals can have repercussions for that society.

Individual autonomy does not include the freedom to harm others, to coerce them or to undermine social stability. Those seeking assisted reproduction or prenatal diagnosis, gamete donors and the children born as a result of assisted reproduction, are all individuals whose interests are affected by policy making about new reproductive genetic technologies. Their interests must be balanced with the interest of society as a whole, as well as those of identifiable groups in society.

For instance, the provision of prenatal diagnosis has implications for how we as a society view people with disabilities. Women as a group are of particular importance since it is women who experience the technologies most directly. Women from ethnic or racial minorities have special interests that must also be considered. Individual interests do not automatically take precedence over collective interests nor can the collective tyrannize individuals.

We must protect those who are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of the technologies while respecting the rights of infertile individuals or those who are at risk of passing a genetic disease to their children to seek the intervention they see as being of most help to them.

Canada is committed by the charter of rights and freedoms to the principle of equality between men and women. This is the second principle in the government's ethical framework. This does not mean, however, that men and women must be treated equally. Rather we must recognize that the physical and social burdens and risks of reproduction are borne primarily by women.

The prohibitions contained in this legislation reflect the careful consideration given to the special needs and interests of women. Practices and procedures that leave women vulnerable to exploitation and coercion such as commercial surrogacy arrangements or egg donation for payment have been expressly prohibited in no small part because of the negative impact on women's equal status in Canadian society.

Protecting those who are vulnerable is a priority for the government. It is the third element of our ethical framework. Society has a responsibility to ensure that those who are vulnerable are not manipulated or controlled by those in positions of power and authority. Any individual or group who does have the power or the resources to adequately represent themselves is in need of special protection. Women are vulnerable to such exploitation in part because of social and economic factors that limit their power. Individuals or couples seeking to use these technologies are also vulnerable. They need technology to help them have a child, technology to which access is limited and determined by others.

That is why the government is prohibiting the use of their embryos for research purposes without their express informed consent. Children born through the use of these technologies are particularly vulnerable. Technology such as sex selection and commercial surrogacy demean the value of children in our society and have been prohibited because they make children into commodities.

With Bill C-47 the government is also seeking to protect the health and safety of Canadians. This requires a commitment to the appropriate use of medical treatment. Currently we would like to help all people who are infertile but in a world of diverse needs and finite resources it is our responsibility to ensure that decisions about the provision of medical treatment be made in accordance with clearly defined health care priorities.

The first step in ensuring an appropriate use of health care resources is to minimize the number of people requiring medical treatment by emphasizing prevention. In its position paper on a comprehensive management regime for new reproductive and genetic technologies, the government has outlined non-legislative initiatives it is taking, including the establishment of a framework for sexual and reproductive health. This framework will, among other others, provide the basis for a comprehensive strategy for the prevention of infertility. Even with the best preventive efforts in the world, there will still be people who suffer from infertility. The principle of the appropriate use of medical treatment requires the simplest and least invasive intervention should be used first to assist those people in conceiving a child.

Non-commercialization of reproduction and reproductive materials is the fifth tenet of the government's ethical framework. By commercialization I mean the introduction of a profit element into reproduction, the buying or selling of reproductive materials or reproductive services. Commercialization is contrary to the basic values we hold about the inalienable rights of people not to be bought or sold. It disregards the importance of reproduction and its significance in our lives as human beings.

Finally, the government is committed to the principle of accountability at all levels. Individuals have a responsibility to safeguard their own reproductive and sexual health to help prevent infertility in the first place. Canadian society has a right to regulate and monitor how the technologies are used to ensure that our values and priorities are being respected.

Governments and practitioners have a joint responsibility to protect the reproductive and sexual health of their communities and the individuals they serve. These ethical principles provide one pillar of the government's approach to our new reproductive and genetic technologies.

Other important aspects are concern for the health and safety of Canadians, a perspective on infertility and a consideration of the well-being and the interests of children. These are also essential components of the government's approach. Together these pillars make up the framework that has guided the government in prohibiting certain practices and procedures. They will continue to guide us as we develop our regulatory components.

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3:55 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to point out something that is very clear. I understand very well all these debates we are having on Bill C-47. This is a social debate concerning our values, but I wish we could work on the bill before us.

Before going any further, I would like to say to all the government members that the official Opposition is in favour of criminalizing many reproduction techniques. Indeed, it must not be said that the opposition is against regulating and criminalizing certain techniques.

The problem is that the bill before us is, in our opinion, incomplete. I was part of feminist groups which, in 1977, called for a royal commission of enquiry because, considering what was to come, we thought something had to be done before the scandals arrived.

Twelve years later, in the throne speech, the government promised to do an enquiry. This enquiry took four years and cost a lot of money. Many people were met, but they forgot to consult the provinces, which are the only ones who can, according to the Constitution, administer health care. I believe reproduction techniques are a health care matter.

What the official opposition asked for was to criminalize certain techniques and modify the Criminal Code. What we see in Bill C-47 is a parallel law, which gives all the powers to the federal government, not to the provinces.

I would like to ask the member who just spoke why the government is trying again to centralize powers. Once again, when we are talking about health care, under the Constitution, and they are frequently referring us to the Constitution, it is the provinces that have the power to administer health care.

Can the member explain to me why the government is so intent on centralizing while the member pretends that it is, in fact, decentralizing? In reality, it is the other around, and it is harmful.

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4 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Madam Speaker, in response to the question, I can only say that the exercise of the federal government in areas of health and safety is well-established.

I need only recall how many times the hon. member has called on the federal government to take action. There seems to be some inconsistency in calling on the federal government to take action and, at the same time, to suggest that by taking action it is trying to somehow centralize a power. It is not at all unusual for the federal government to be engaged in areas of this nature. I can think of many that we discuss as members of the health committee.

On that point, the member has also mentioned, in questioning my colleague earlier, the fact that the legislation is somewhat inconclusive. That will lead probably to a more meaningful debate in committee as we look at the legislation. I am sure if it was more definitive then the accusation would be, what is the point of looking at this bill since the decisions have all been taken.

Consequently, I do not think it is at all unusual for the federal government to take a leading role in acting in the health and safety interests of Canadians. There is a lot of precedent for that. I welcome the government's attention to this matter.

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4 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-47, an act respecting human reproductive technologies and commercial transactions relating to human reproduction.

This bill, which follows the voluntary moratorium on certain reproductive technologies proposed by the Liberal government in July 1995, is the result of the deliberations of the Baird Commission, which worked from 1989 to 1993, and whose mandate was to inquire into and report upon current and potential medical and scientific developments related to new reproductive technologies and their health repercussions.

The commission was also requested to study the ethical, social, economic and legal consequences of these new technologies in order to recommend what policies and safeguards should be applied.

The main conclusions and recommendations of the Baird Commission were in line with other studies done elsewhere in the world on the same subject. However, several recommendations are problematic because they do not respect Canada's unique situation, specially with regard to the constitutional distribution of powers.

Several recommendations the federal government would like to implement affect areas under provincial jurisdiction such as health, family law and civil liability, which could be a problem.

This bill was meant to be-and I said was-the government's response to society's concerns about scientific advances in the area of human reproduction and the possible use of these technological innovations for questionable commercial or scientific purposes.

But it proves to be a belated and incomplete response to public concerns. Since the report of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies was made public in November 1993, the Liberal government has dragged its feet on the matter.

It was not until July 1995, more than two and a half years after the Baird report was tabled, that the government took a first step to put the brakes on the unbridled growth of the reproductive technology industry by proposing a temporary voluntary moratorium.

The Bloc Quebecois along with several newspaper editors, former members of the Baird Commission, including Patricia Baird, interest groups, including groups representing women and the clergy, criticized the fact that the moratorium was voluntary, since some physicians and clinics continue to provide services banned by this moratorium, which the government cannot or does not want to enforce.

Last January, the federal government announced the creation of a temporary advisory committee, whose mandate was to enforce the moratorium.

That did not prevent a newspaper from advertising for young women to sell their ova to infertile couples; institutions from continuing to pay sperm donors; doctors from retrieving sperm from deceased husbands on the request of their widows. To help you understand what is meant by the expression "new reproductive technologies", I will give you a list of a few activities which were carried out and are still being developed because the government's moratorium is only "voluntary": contracts in which surrogate a mother is paid to carry a child she will give up to her customers after delivery; trade in human ova, sperm and embryos; child gender selection for non medical reasons; free in vitro fertilization for women who cannot afford it in exchange for ova; alteration of the genetic material of an ovum, sperm or embryo and its transmission to a subsequent generation; experiments on bringing babies to term in artificial wombs; duplication or cloning of human embryos; production of human and animal hybrids; use of ova retrieved from cadavers or foetuses to give birth to babies or for research purposes.

There seems to be a consensus in our society on the fact that these technologies give rise to ethical, moral, social, economical and legal problems and that they must be controlled.

Canadians and Quebecers concerned by the situation think that it is about time the government began to do something. However, they are still worried to see that it does not seem to know exactly in which direction it is going.

Indeed, the government itself admitted that Bill C-47 was incomplete and temporary. It does not reflect a comprehensive vision of the issue and only confirms some prohibitions included in the moratorium while waiting for another bill that would complete the legislation.

In addition, even though this bill meets the demands of the official opposition with respect to criminalizing certain practices, the federal government is not amending the Criminal Code, enforcement of which would fall to the provinces. On the contrary, it is proposing parallel legislation that paves the way for the creation of a federal agency to monitor new reproductive technologies. Another federal agency.

Thus, the primary object of the bill is not to criminalize practices deemed unacceptable by society, but rather to set up a federal agency to monitor new reproductive technologies.

A good example of this barely concealed goal of concentrating all the power at the federal level is clause 11 of the bill, which says that the Attorney General of Canada must give his consent before a prosecution for an offence under this Act may be instituted. This just shows that the federal government does not wish to co-operate with the provinces. This will complicate enforcement of the legislation, since hospitals, for one, come under provincial responsibility.

This new federal agency to monitor new reproductive technologies would be responsible for granting licences, inspecting clinics and enforcing regulations, and would also be called upon to oversee the development of reproductive technologies and to advise the federal health minister in this regard.

It would be responsible for granting licences for practices considered acceptable. These technologies could include, for example: in vitro fertilization; donor insemination; use of foetal tissue; preservation, manipulation and donation of human ova, sperm and embryos; research on embryos; diagnostic testing on a foetus before it is implanted in the uterus; late life or postmenopausal pregnancy.

As well, this agency would set up a data bank on donors and children of donors in order to allow future meetings in certain special cases. But a serious oversight in this bill is that it does not define how, by what mechanism, approval would be refused. Somehow, we do not know when, this will be done in a later phase of the supposed federal strategy.

There is also a problem in clause 2 of the bill. Its definitions of certain technical terms do not correspond to their medical definitions and a number of terms are missing from the list. This will sustain endless legal debates when this legislation deals with the first offences. It seems to me that as parliamentarians we have a responsibility not to pass laws without knowing whether or not they can be enforced.

In the case before us, we have every reason to believe that the federal government, because it does not wish to co-operate with the provinces, will have to acquire additional policing and legal structures in order to be able to enforce its law. The federal government will have to deploy considerable resources in order to oversee hospitals, research centres and private companies in all provinces.

Apart from the fact that once again the federal government is interfering in the field of health, which, according to the Constitution, comes under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces, the creation of this agency promises to be costly and a source of duplication, resulting in delays and inefficiency.

As well, seeing the federal government's inability to apply or obtain compliance for its moratorium on certain reproductive technologies, there are doubts about its ability to enforce its legislation without the support of the provinces, which in their capacity as the administrators of health systems, are in the best position to act.

The confusion we see in this government is reflected in its bill, and it is astonishing that it deals with reproductive techniques, commercial operations, and genetic manipulations on the same footing. It would have been appropriate to make a clear differentiation between assisted procreation, basic research and commercial ventures.

On the one hand, there is the issue of the provision of legitimate care and treatment to people who are merely trying to create life in order to establish a family, but who are unable to do so without the assistance of medical science to overcome the obstacles nature has placed in their way.

On the other hand, there is the issue of medical or scientific research in genetics, perhaps with praiseworthy intent, but raising serious ethical issues, the first of these being whether the end justifies the means, and whether, consequently, all manner of manipulations of living matter may be permitted provided they are for the good of humanity.

Finally, there is the commercial aspect, relating to the sale of products created using the latest scientific techniques, if the word "product" can be used when transmitting life is involved. In our health system, which is public and accessible to all, the underlying concept is still the provision of medical care and services to the public.

Private enterprise can benefit from participation in the provision of this care, but it is difficult to stomach the idea of strictly commercial operations, the principal purpose of which would be profit, without throwing our entire system open to re-examination. The idea of selling human beings, which became obsolete when slavery was abolished, must not be allowed to be revived.

You will have readily understood that the new reproductive techniques can be applied to completely different areas, and that it would be dangerous to liken them without distinction. Yet this is what the government has done. After its initial slowness, now it is acting precipitously and in an atmosphere of confusion.

It is ironic to note that the federal government is creating a new structure to control reproductive technologies, while the successive cuts being applied on the federal level to health transfers, which are disguised under the lengthy title of Canada Health and Social Transfer, have had the effect of placing the provinces in a difficult situation as far as health care funding is concerned.

How can the Liberal government, which is cutting health financing, force new national standards on the provinces for reproductive technologies, which they will have to apply, subject to financial penalties, without even consulting them on the content of those standards, while at the same time imposing a major cut in financing? The explanation is that this government wants to centralize at all cost, and the federal minister want to control everything in order to have greater powers.

This rigid approach, which brings more federal standards and less financing, shows clearly enough that expressions like "flexible federalism" or "profitable federalism" have become futile and outdated.

The whole approach of this bill shows that the health of Canadians and Quebecers is not a priority for this government. Its priority is to control everything from Ottawa and to centralize in an atmosphere of confrontation. Co-operative federalism is gone, welcome to the Liberal kingdom of Plan B.

There are numerous reasons why the Bloc Quebecois cannot support this bill. It is incomplete and does not contain an appropriate definition of the goals of the act and responsibilities for its implementation.

Second, this bill does not amend the Criminal Code as the Opposition had asked, which complicates its implementation. Third, it creates a federal agency in the area of health, which is a provincial jurisdiction, and tries to impose national standards, which will cause more jurisdictional disputes. Finally, this bill imposes national health standards.

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4:15 p.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, like so many people I am concerned about the health technologies, and having followed the proceedings of the Baird commission, which went on for a number of years, I looked forward to the tabling of the federal government's bill on reproductive and genetic technologies.

There are many new approaches to health care and research, and one of them involves altering the genetic code. This is useful because some diseases can be cured in this way, and now we can see whether babies who are still in their mother's womb are likely to have certain health problems and then try to correct them. There are many reasons why we were looking forward to this bill. And especially since there is both a moral and a medical dimension.

When we started altering the genetic code and talking about sex selection and the various technologies that are possible, when we talk about the sale of embryos and surrogate mothers, this is what society has been debating in Canada and Quebec for years.

I expected the federal government's bill to be complete at least in one respect. I listened to the speech by the member for Laurentides, and I realize that eventually another bill will compensate for the shortcomings in the one before the House today.

I just want to put a question to the hon. member for Laurentides, considering the fact that Canada, in its present state, is a vast country whose diversity is such that people differ in the way they see things.

I realize, as I read polls like Angus Reid, that people in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces do not react in the same way to certain questions as people in British Columbia and Western Canada.

I think this might be one of those areas where we should have decentralized. This is probably one of those areas where we should not have national standards. I am not saying that ethics should vary from one area to the next, because I think certain practices should be condemned in Quebec as well as in British Columbia or the Atlantic provinces, but I think that depending on the location, there may be a way to put some different interpretations on certain practices.

If we had decentralized towards the provinces, since health care is their jurisdiction, I think we would have had a better and more flexible interpretation of the legislation. What I am afraid of in this area is uniformity, the federal approach, the national approach. I do not think this area is one that lends itself to uniformization.

My question to my colleague is this: even if we did not consider the constitutional implications, according to her, would it have been better to proceed with a form of decentralization, to amend the Criminal Code and let the provinces be responsible for enforcement, so that enforcement could be flexible across what is now Canada?

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4:20 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that what my colleague for Drummond-our health critic-asked was that instead of this bill, it would be legally more desirable for the justice department to draft legislation banning certain technologies.

But instead, the government is interfering in an area of provincial jurisdiction. This must be pointed out. For the benefit of all our viewers, I would like to read the position the Bloc Quebecois has always maintained and will continue to maintain with regard to health care.

I quote:

Under subsections 92(7) and 92(16) of the 1867 act, and according to their interpretations by many courts, health and welfare are areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. This being said, the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of the five national standards enshrined in the Canada Health Act, in other words it supports the underlying principles of the health care system. However, it believes that the provinces must have full authority in the matter.

This position stems from a number of factors, especially the government's financial withdrawal. As a matter of fact, the repeated unilateral cuts in health care funding to the provinces have resulted, in Quebec alone, in a $7.9 billion shortfall in health care budgets. While the provinces are subject to national standards coupled with financial penalties for non-compliance, they have no control over the level of funding they get from Ottawa.

The Bloc Quebecois finds this situation unacceptable since all the federal government is doing is passing on to the provinces the cuts aimed at controlling the federal deficit, without any regard for their impact on the health care system, which it claims it is protecting. The Bloc Quebecois is extremely concerned and worried by the consequences these drastic and repeated cuts might have for the health care system as we know it today.

For these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois intends to do all it can, through the stands it takes, to preserve the principles of universality, accessibility, public management, comprehensiveness, and portability.

However, it believes that, in the current context, the federal government is jeopardizing its own standards by making the provinces bear the burden of these cuts in order to bring its deficit under control.

Therefore, the Bloc Quebecois demands that the federal government respect provincial jurisdiction in the area of health care; consequently, it must withdraw from this area and transfer all federal health care moneys to Quebec.

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4:25 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed my colleague's speech. She brought forth a number of very interesting concerns.

Most poignant was that the concernsof the Bloc Quebecois member and the people of Quebec are the same as those of the people of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland or any other province. The legislation demonstrates the heavy-handedness of the central federal government. It is a concern for all of us.

If Quebec separates, does the member feel the people of Quebec would be covered under the principles of the Canada Health Act? Would that coverage be effective if they travelled to other Canadian provinces, and vice versa?

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4:25 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to give a short answer. That was a very long question, which would require a debate that could last a very long time. I would like to say to my colleague that Quebec has always been innovative in its legislation, in particular in the area of health. Quebec would continue to be innovative, and might do so even more rapidly as a sovereign country.

This being said, today's debate does not deal with the Quebec constitution or the Canadian Constitution but with health, an area which also involves morality and ethics. I would like us to go back to this bill rather than talking about the Constitution.

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4:25 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted you are in the chair because your great love of literature is well known to us all and I will take the House on a literary voyage this afternoon.

First, I will make a few remarks on Bill C-47 which address how the government and this country will manage the reproductive and genetic technologies that face us in the next century.

It is to a great extent a bill I support but it is a bill based on fear. We now realize we have attained the technological ability to actually manipulate the human entity, the physical human being.

There are some prohibited practices which are particularly horrifying. I think I speak for most Canadians when I say we are very nervous when we read of this type of thing being possible, the actual genetic alteration of genes and changing the very character of the human being which may be born in next generation. The cloning of human embryos is something that is straight out of science fiction novels. It is something that we may see in "Star Trek". Now as a government we see this as a possibility and it is something we want to prohibit.

One prohibited practice is the creation of animal human hybrids. It gives us shivers to think of the possibility we now have the technology that may make it possible. The transfer of embryos between humans and other species is something which is horrifying. The creation of embryos for research purposes seems to lower human dignity to the point where only scientific endeavour is important and not human dignity.

We are all concerned about and abhor these things to a greater or lesser extent. Fear sparks the bill, a very legitimate fear that has its origins in our culture and in our literature.

I will take the House back to Frankenstein , a novel by Mary Shelley in 1818. Frankenstein is probably one of the most well read or distributed novels in the English language. It has probably been translated into every imaginable language.

The story deals with a scientist in the early 19th Century who harnessed electricity. As as result he found he was able to animate a human being that he created out of body parts obtained from cemeteries. He was engaged in body snatching. At the time that Mary Shelley wrote the novel-and she did it in about three days-body snatching for medical research was a common and accepted practice in Britain although the public was horrified by it.

In any event the monster was created. He was not a monster initially. He was seen by Dr. Frankenstein, the scientist, as something he could create as a result of science. He could put these body parts together and give this being life. For a moment Dr. Frankenstein became like God. He animated life.

We know what happened. The human being that was created by the scientist became a monster in the eyes of humankind. He was an individual with a sense of emotion, a sense of wanting to belong, who eventually committed murder. He was so horrible and monstrous to look at that he was pursued and destroyed.

The picture of Frankenstein is something that has echoed down through the years. It is a part of our culture. It is a part of the francophone culture as well because the Hunchback of Notre Dame , for example, is about another monster in our society that could be created by humankind.

Another novel comes even closer to the type of prohibited practices we talk about in Bill C-47, The Island of Dr. Moreau , which was written in 1896 by H. G. Wells. H. G. Wells is famous for having written the novels The Time Machine which involved going back in time and War of the Worlds which involved an invasion of earth by Martians. The Island of Dr. Moreau is less well known. In this novel a young man is marooned on an island where experiments are being undertaken by a surgeon-scientist by the name of Dr. Moreau. Dr. Moreau takes creating human beings a step further. He has travelled to a remote island and he is in the process of taking animals and reshaping them by surgery into human beings. The island becomes filled with various types of beasts who resemble humans.

The theory at the time was that if body parts were changed around to make an animal look human it would acquire human characteristics including speech. On The Island of Dr. Moreau these various animal humans had the power of speech. Our hero on the island is very frightened by them.

Let me read a bit from the novel. This part describes the hero encountering the creations of Dr. Moreau. It reads:

The two most formidable Animal Men were my Leopard-man and a creature made of hyena and swine. Larger than these were three bull-creatures who pulled in the boat. Then came the silvery-hairy-man, who was also the Sayer of the Law, M'ling, and a satyr-like creature of ape and goat. There were three Swine-men and a Swine-woman, a mare-rhinoceros-creature, and several other female whose sources I did not ascertain.

One of the most chilling moments in the novel is when the hero on the island tries to escape from the compound of Dr. Moreau and enters the jungle. He encounters these animal humans and is chased by all nightmarish creatures that are half animal and half human. There was a chillingness. I would like to read the passage but it would take too long. It was a chilling to imagine this man going through the dark and moonlit forest and being chased by various creatures that were half leopard and half man.

This image of horror achieved by H. G. Wells just about 100 years ago entered the psyche of English speaking society of the day just as the novel Frankenstein and similar novels dealing with cloning and the creation of human animal creatures have done. We have this sense of horror when we even contemplate the concept of marrying the human being with the animal, with a creature.

Obviously both these novels spring out of Christian traditions from the Middle Ages, medieval paintings of the devil's creatures as being half man and half beast. Literature and the arts have an effect on culture like a pebble thrown into the pond. The ripple goes down through the ages and touches all people. We do not need to have actually read the novels. We do not need to have read The Island of Dr. Moreau to have felt the effect of the story told by H. G. Wells at that time.

The reason we react so negatively and we feel Bill C-47 is necessary is that we see the possibility of creating animal human hybrids. We experience the same fear innate in the novel Frankenstein or the novel The Island of Dr. Moreau . In many respects we are reacting to something in our culture as a result of our literature and our religion.

There is one problem. What will happen in the future when we pass these laws, when we forbid as we will do genetic tinkering? What will happen a decade from now when a married couple want to have children but carry the cystic fibrosis gene or the muscular dystrophy gene? Will there not be a huge pressure to do something to prevent these couples from having children who will die by age 30? I had a friend who had a daughter with cystic fibrosis. It is a terrible wasting disease of children. Their lungs fill up with fluids, a thick mucous. Muscular dystrophy is similar in a sense that it is a wasting disease. It is a tragedy to see young people suffer from it.

In both instances they are genetic illnesses. It may be possible through genetic tinkering to prevent the embryos from carrying that genetic defect. There will be a huge pressure to go around the essence of this law when it comes to tinkering with human genes. There will be people who will be wanting that change to have healthy and whole children.

There is another aspect. Science marches on. Science is something that humans at various points in history have tried to stop. They have tried to stand in its way because they feared the results coming down the road. We are not the first ones who have tried to pass legislation that prevents the development of new technology. In this case it is human technology but there are many times in the past when there has been an effort to prevent changes we are afraid of.

I will quote again from the book The Island of Dr. Moreau''. This is the doctor himself speaking. He is explaining why he has undertaken this fearsome experiment of creating human beings out of animals. We should all take note of what he said:

You see, I went on with this research just the way it led me. That is the only way I ever heard of research going. I asked a question, devised some method of obtaining an answer, and got a fresh question. Was this possible or that possible? You cannot imagine what this means to an investigator, what an intellectual passion grows upon him!

While I support Bill C-47 absolutely, we will never be able to stop the progress of science that heads in directions of which we are fearful. The very technological possibilities we fear will nevertheless become subjects of curiosity and research. Ultimately I am sure research will continue on those subjects.

I have a few more words of Dr. Moreau. He was talking about these beast humans he created. He said:

To this day I have never troubled about the ethics of the matter. The study of Nature makes man at last as remorseless as Nature.

I will use the opportunity of speaking to Bill C-47 to make a prediction. There are a number of prohibited practices here including those I have mentioned. I predict that in 50 years two-thirds of these prohibited practices will be legal in this country and one-third will have been tried somewhere in the world.

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4:40 p.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise a second time to say how much I appreciated the speech of the member who just spoke. I think he put the question well and his selection of literary quotes was relevant.

There is a French novelist-I am not sure of his name-who wrote a book entitled Les animaux dénaturés , a story about a crossbreeding between monkeys and man that turned out badly.

The member mentioned a number of practices that are objectionable, and I agree with him. He also mentioned all the possibilities that science has to offer to cure a number of illnesses. I agree with him on the fact that in maybe 50 years from now, considering what is happening now in the field of genetics research, something around two thirds of what will have been done will be for the best and the other third will have been made illegal, if the laws of ethics and, more simply, of humanity, remain the same.

There is a French scientist who, at some point, ended genetic research performed on animals because the same procedure could have been applied to man. He thought that, considering the present state of science, ethics and even religion, this research had to be stopped.

But research must go on. However, such things as paying donors, sex selection, artificial uteruses, cloning, choosing the sex-as we all know, in some cultures, it is far better to be a man than a woman-those techniques could create a situation where there will be more men than women. This is the cultural issue, but there is also a moral and even a religious issue.

I ask my colleague why the government did not include these measures, which it often describes as horrifying and terrifying, in the Criminal Code. I think Canadians would have readily understood that some of these procedures are in fact in the criminal realm.

What about cloning. If I remember well, that means you create two genetically identical human beings. These are not twins, they are clones, just like computers.

I think that would be criminal. Why did the government not seize the opportunity to ban these procedures and include them in the Criminal Code? Then, Canadians would have understood that it is a crime to do such things, that those procedures are criminal activities. Now it seems we equate something forbidden by the Criminal Code with something immoral. We all know that very often there is a difference between the two. Some activities might be very immoral but acceptable according to the Criminal Code.

Why were those procedures the previous member called horrible and reprehensible, and for good reason, not incorporated in the Criminal Code?

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4:45 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Jonquière for his question. I do not think there are any easy answers for that.

It is very difficult to make a branch of scientific research into a criminal offence. I hate to bring up such a subject but it is like abortion which is a medical practice.

When you apply the Criminal Code to that type of activity, Mr. Speaker, it is a tremendous moral quagmire because scientific research, scientific and medical understanding is always a two-edged sword. On the one hand, in the case of chemical weaponry or germ warfare research we should condemn these activities and practices as criminal.

On the other hand, chemotherapy for cancer is a direct result of the development of mustard gas bombs during the first and second world wars. The aerosol spray can is a product of research on germ warfare. Penicillin, the antibiotic, was developed as a result of research into germ warfare.

When we enter into the field of reproductive technology we are fearful. It is, after all, just another step in a scientific endeavour and the expansion of the understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. We want to apply moral standards and rightly so.

The principle of applying Criminal Code sanctions against scientific research is dangerous. I prefer that the moral, ethical and irresponsibility problem is dealt with-with penalties-in a separate body of law, separate from the Criminal Code.

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4:45 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario


Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Hamilton-Wentworth for his intervention on this bill. I have some concern about the type of reading material he enjoys but we all have our likes and dislikes.

I was interested too in the question from the hon. member for Jonquière who is calling for this type of activity to take place over amendments to the Criminal Code. It confused me when I heard that because on October 7, 1994 the member for Laval Centre called for the government to table a bill to regulate practices connected with new reproductive technologies.

On December 7, 1994 the member for Laval Centre said: "It is increasing clear that the commercialization of human genetic material, embryos and the fetal tissue is growing in Canada". She called for regulation in this area.

The position of the Bloc is further confused by the fact that on July 5, 1995 the government brought forward a voluntary moratorium on some of these practices and there was criticism that it was not going far enough and that there were no real sanctions against those who would continue with these types of practices.

On June 5, 1996 the member for Drummond said that this area was in urgent need of legislation. The government is doing exactly what Bloc members asked us to do.

Then they come forward with this notion that somehow an amendment to the Criminal Code is the way to go. They have to talk with one voice. They have to talk on one steady theme. They cannot be jumping all over the place when it comes to deciding whether this should take the form of legislation in a bill or amendments to the Criminal Code.

That argument aside, I was very interested in the argument put forward by the member for Hamilton-Wentworth because he did touch on-we are all exposed in one way or another-an individual who he knows with cystic fibrosis.

I went back to check it out because I was interested in the line that the member brought forward. Something like germ line genetic alteration apparently has the potential to permanently alter the human gene pool by changing the genetic structure of individuals in ways that are passed on to their offspring.

Several other geneticists in the field are against this idea. Several other countries have already investigated it. They are against it. The geneticists are not sure how these genes interact after they have been altered. They quite frankly admit that they do not have the knowledge of what happens to these genes when they are altered. It is because of that lack of knowledge that the countries and the geneticists have come together to say that currently there is still great potential for harm in this area. We are still in the research stage.

Again, when this bill comes forward-it may be void of what the hon. member is including in the bill-it does not preclude the government at this date or in a date of review two, three or four years, depending on whenever the committee decides when this bill should be reviewed, to look again at this germ line genetic alteration and say: "Okay, it is safe now. Let's bring it in as an amendment to the bill and incorporate it".

Until we know it is a safe practice, until the geneticists and other countries come together in their research to know that it will not significantly harm or further complicate the gene pool, then we have to be very cautious in the implementation of this legislation and what it contains.