Madam Speaker, it has been an interesting day. I was on my feet earlier today on a question of privilege. In preparing for that I went through some debates that were held a few years ago in this place. I went back to 1980 to do my research. There were familiar names of people that I actually sat in the House with a few years ago. I do not think in their wildest dreams they could imagine that we would be debating an issue like this one. I do not think they would believe that science and technology could move as quickly as it has in the last number of years. That is really what we are talking about.
I listened to the members for Thornhill and Winnipeg North Centre talk about major changes that are happening so quickly in society that we cannot cope with them.
Going back just a very short number of years ago, who could imagine that human eggs and sperm could now be manipulated to create new life outside women's bodies? Just imagine.
Children, as we all well know, can be born of women who are not their genetic mothers. Another example is prenatal diagnosis which can detect genetic or other abnormalities in the embryo or fetus before it is born.
Those are the type of things we are looking at: big changes in technology that raise some pretty high moral and ethical questions.
The government that I was part of in 1989 created the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies in response to some of what members in the House have spoken about tonight. The commission established in 1989 was charged with looking at some of these issues. These issues were responded to by the government in Bill C-47.
As has been mentioned, Bill C-47 died on the order paper with the call of the election last spring. The member from Quebec who introduced Bill C-247 has basically done so in response to the death of Bill C-47. There is no question there are many similarities between the two bills. It is a highly technical bill. To be honest, I do not think any of us in the House are capable of carrying that position forward as best we can in the three short hours allocated to the member's bill.
Here are some of the concerns I have about the bill which have been expressed by people from coast to coast. The commission reported back with some recommendations that were basically based on information the commission had picked up over a number of years of listening to Canadians from one end of the country to the other, many of whom were obviously experts.
We would like to see in the bill protection with regard to sex selection for non-medical purposes. We would like to see restrictions on the buying and selling of eggs, sperm and embryos, including their exchange for goods, services or other benefits but excluding the recovery expenses incurred in the collection, storage and distribution of eggs, sperm and embryos for persons other than a doctor. This prohibition should come into force for a period of time to ease the transition from the current commercial system to an altruistic system. Germ line genetic alteration; ectogenesis which basically translates into maintaining an embryo in an artificial womb; protection of and consideration given to the cloning of human embryos; the creation of animal-human hybrids, which I believe the Reform member has just spoken on; and the retrieval of sperm or eggs from cadavers or fetuses for fertilization and implantation or research involving the maturation of sperm or eggs outside the human body are other areas of concern.
The member for Thornhill mentioned the moratorium that has been in place for a number of years. There has been a lot of good will and faith that this moratorium would work, but what we would like to see, I guess, would be prohibitions that are not contained in the moratorium. That would be the transfer of embryos between humans and other species, the use of human sperm eggs or embryos for assisted human reproduction procedures or for medical research without the informed consent of the donors, research in human embryos later than 14 days after conception, the creation of embryos for research purposes only, and the offer which almost sounds impossible, but it could happen, the offer to provide or offer to pay for prohibited services.
The other thing that I think should happen is a management regime or the development of a regulatory agency or, I should say, component. This should be introduced in any bill that comes before this House. Unfortunately, that is not part of Bill C-247.
What we would like to see is basically an omnibus bill that would take into consideration much of what we have spoken about in this House. None of us are going to disagree with the member who introduced this Private Member's Motion. I think it is time that we raised the debate. It is time that we discussed this in the House. It is time that we hold the minister's feet to the fire in his desire—I wanted to use the word promise, but I will not use it because I'm not sure it was a promise—to bring forth a piece of legislation that we could support on this side of this House.
What we are telling the minister is that we expect him to introduce legislation that would fill the void created by the death of Bill C-47 last year with some of the additions that I have just mentioned. It is a debate that is worthy of consideration. It is a debate that has to be carried out in this place and, obviously, it is a debate where expert testimony in some of these areas, you might say this cutting edge of technology—in fact, it is moving so quickly that a great deal has changed even in the last 12 months.
I believe there has to be an opportunity to discuss that, debate that, but more important, there has to be an opportunity through committee and through this House to bring in the expert testimony that will be needed to confront this multifaceted problem.
We are hoping the minister will reintroduce the legislation, allow this House to debate it and bring in the best testimony that we can, from coast to coast, to debate what I consider one of the most important issues facing Canada at this moment.