Mr. Speaker, this is obviously a fascinating and interesting subject.
One of the members of the Bloc said that party is not in support of one of the proposals that was in the government's Bill C-47 which would establish a new national agency. I understand why they would not be in support of a national agency. They are not in support of the national government. They would like to do away with it all. If the bill had included a suggestion that a provincial agency be established perhaps there would have been more acceptance.
It is fascinating. This bill is almost an anomaly. It is a private member's bill based somewhat on the model of a government bill that was introduced in the last parliament. Basically the same government is now in power and is saying that it is prepared to bring forward a government bill that will address more of the issues of concern that are talked about by members opposite. Yet they want to ignore that and go ahead with this particular bill which seems to be a halfway solution to the concern.
The member for Waterloo—Wellington made a very good point that this bill only deals with two issues of concern that were addressed in Bill C-47. It does not go nearly far enough.
There is an opportunity, if members opposite would just have a little patience, to have a government bill which would have substantially more significance. It could go to committee. We need to hear from Canadians, rather than just presume they are going to accept the changes that exist in a bill. The way to do that is to have the Minister of Health, not the Minister of Justice, bring in a full, properly researched bill that would deal with all areas of the selling of sperm, eggs and embryos, and the reproductive processes that are being discovered through science. Let us do our homework on this.
It is interesting. Normally we would have the reverse scenario where opposition members would be demanding that the government bring forward a bill. Instead they are saying we should support this particular bill, even though it does not go far enough. It is just opposition politics.
I have not heard anyone in this place say they support the cloning of human beings. Everyone is basically saying that the member's bill is the right way to go, but it does not go far enough. We think it should go further.
I quite agree with members opposite that the voluntary moratorium is not sufficient. It does not go nearly far enough.
This bill would indeed amend the Criminal Code. That is really the crux of the problem and the concern that we have on this side.
Rather than deal with the merits of the proposed prohibitions in the bill, I want to compare this bill to Bill C-47.
Similar prohibitions were contained in separate legislation, as was mentioned by other members, back in 1996. If it was not for the fact that the election came about that bill likely would be in place today. It was a dramatically more comprehensive bill than the one that is before us.
The Criminal Code contains provisions for general application. They apply to everyone and are aimed at keeping the peace and ensuring individual conduct is not a threat to the maintenance of a civilized society. However, what we are trying to do here is use the Criminal Code in an inappropriate way.
From the perspective that I have outlined, the code is not the appropriate vehicle for the prohibitions component of a comprehensive management regime in the complex area of scientific and medical procedures and research. The proper place, in my submission, is for all of this to be wrapped up and put into a principal piece of legislation that could then go to the health committee. It would then be taken across the country for input, for discussion, and parliament could then enact the bill.
Perhaps some of the amendments I have heard other members talk about should be in the bill. Perhaps there should be a way of addressing those concerns. But by simply passing a half-baked private member's bill that does not go far enough we will lose the opportunity that is before parliament.
The real opportunity here is to set the direction for the moral infrastructure of our society. Do we really want to cross that line that I have heard other members mention? Everyone says no, but let us make sure that no means no, that in this particular case we are indeed dotting the i 's, crossing the t 's and going far enough to ensure that we have covered all areas of the human reproductive system and all areas of scientific study of the human reproductive system.
When separate legislation containing these prohibitions against certain practices related to the new reproductive and genetic technologies was introduced in this place the intention was expressed to introduce further legislation to add to the regulatory controls. I would suggest that is very critical. The bill does not deal with the regulatory controls that I think will be so necessary to make this effective.
Those controls would provide a comprehensive management regime for many years for NRGTs. That made it clear at that time that it was not an appropriate subject for a Criminal Code amendment.
I have to ask hon. members opposite why the push all of a sudden. Is it just because it happens to have wound its way back to the surplus of the legislative agenda that they see fit to push this through? Or, would they not agree that it would be more appropriate to take a step back, to make sure that we are indeed dotting the i 's and crossing the t 's.
I would suggest that this ongoing management regime is a critical issue for the future of all Canadians. A major component of that regime was to be the issuance of licences for acceptable practices when it came to these reproductive technologies.
There are also health and safety issues which were to be prominent in the principles guiding the issuance of those licences. I think all Canadians would understand it is important that the scientific community has an opportunity to have input in a direct way with the parliamentary community through the health committee to deal with the issues of health and safety. It is absolutely critical that takes place. Under the bill that would not occur.
We believe this regulatory structure would also maintain information registries and help surveillance systems on various aspects. The bottom line, from what I can see and what I have said here, it seems clear to me, is that any proposed prohibition would find its proper place in the integrated structure of separate principal legislation sponsored by the government and containing a comprehensive management regime for the NRGTs rather than being put inappropriately in the Criminal Code.
For that reason I will be opposing the bill and hopefully looking forward to the government introducing a bill that we will all be able to support.