House of Commons Hansard #192 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was life.


Assisted Human Reproduction Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague.

I will speak to the amendment to Bill C-56, which states:

...this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-56, an act respecting assisted human reproduction, since the principle of the bill does not recognize the value of non-embryonic stem cell research which has had great advancements in the last year.

As my colleague pointed out, this is really one of the main points which was in the official opposition report to the health committee that studied the draft bill: that we have a three year moratorium on embryonic stem cell research, that we proceed with caution on these serious and grave ethical matters, and that in areas like adult stem cell research where the potential is quite frankly limitless at this point and is unknown, let us use these three years to really examine those alternatives. As the former leader of the opposition, Preston Manning, used to say, where there is an ethical route and a scientific route that converge, that is the route that should be taken.

I do want to quote extensively from an article in the New York Times of March 7, 2002, because it does point to some of the potential of adult stem cell research. It stated:

Adding an important piece to the rapidly changing picture of human stem cells, researchers have found that cells from the blood can regenerate not just the blood supply, but tissues of the skin, liver and gut.

This means that adult stem cells may actually be very potent, which was previously thought to be a criteria that applied only to embryonic cells.

The finding strengthens the emerging view that the body may possess a cache of universal repair cells that could patch up almost any damaged tissue. These repair cells, probably located in the bone marrow and fairly easy to harvest, can move out into the bloodstream and help regenerate any tissue that signals it is in distress.

Such a theory is far from proved, but if true could lead, some scientists believe, to new therapies aimed at enhancing the natural process.

This could be a possible answer to the pleas from people who, as all of us do, know people who suffer from degenerative diseases like Parkinson's. This could be the hope for them. The embryonic stem cells are being held out as the only hope for them when in fact there could be another hope for them in dealing with these diseases.

The article goes on to quote Dr. Helen Blau, a stem cell expert at Stanford University, who stated:

This appears to be a regenerative response we were never previously aware of. It suggests there may be a repair mechanism that goes on throughout life but is insufficient in major disease. If we could amplify this mechanism it could become a whole new form of medicine based on using the body's own cells to treat disease.

Some researchers even say that we should do the embryonic stem cell research because we need that as a comparative study for adult stem cell research, but again, in an area ethically fraught with danger, we believe we should proceed with caution.

I want to continue quoting this article because it is interesting. It stated:

The new finding is based on patients who received transplants of blood-forming cells from relatives after cancer treatments that had destroyed their own bone marrow cells.

...In a similar study reported this January, patients' own cells were found to have become incorporated in transplanted hearts. But this is the first report that human donor stem cells, presumably from the bone marrow, can populate several different kinds of tissue.

There is another quote, from a Dr. Donald Orlic of the National Institutes of Health, the advisory board to the president, who stated:

What is so good about this study is that it is showing bone-marrow derived stem cells demonstrating a high degree of plasticity because they have repopulated three organs.

Stated the article:

Plasticity is the stem cell's ability to become several types of mature cell.

Biologists have believed until recently that each tissue in the body has its own dedicated source of stem cells that repair just that tissue. While this idea still seems true, bone marrow has begun to emerge as a source of general purpose stem cells that work to repair damage wherever it occurs. It is not clear if the system of stem cells found in particular tissues is entirely separate, or somehow dependent on the bone marrow system.

What does seem clear is that the bone marrow stem cells are far more versatile than the tissue specific stem cells.

Physicians have already learned how to make the blood-forming stem cells rush out of the marrow into the bloodstream by injecting a person with a natural factor or cytokine called GCSF. The stem cells can then be harvested from a donor's bloodstream and used instead of a marrow transplant.

The patients studied by [this] team received blood-borne cells harvested from their donors in this way. Though the cells that contributed to the patients' skin, gut and liver presumably came from the donors' bone marrow, this has not been proved.

This suggests that there needs to be more research in this area to see exactly what the potential is.

The article went on and stated:

But experiments with mice have revealed the bone marrow as a source of versatile stem cells that can incorporate into several tissues, including the heart.

Bone marrow stem cells may in fact repair many, if not all, tissues and perhaps on a daily basis. But the repair system obviously fails to cope quickly enough with major damage, such as the loss of tissue in heart attacks. Perhaps, with the use of cytokines like GCSF, the marrow repair system could be brought to bear in many types of disease.

The...researchers said they were considering several such approaches, including collecting marrow cells from a donor's blood and injecting them directly into a damaged organ. “We might see the first clinical data in two or three years,” Dr. Körbling said. Dr. Orlic is working along these same lines and plans to see if GCSF-induced marrow cells can reverse heart attacks in rhesus monkeys before testing the approach in people.

It seems to me that particularly when we are embarking upon this new area of research where we have great potential in adult stem cell research, we ought to focus our efforts and resources in that area rather than embarking upon the ethically fraught area of embryonic stem cell research. That brings me back to a point I made in my previous speech. The bill fails to include or refer to arguments of first principle, that is, we are discussing issues on the surface without defining some of the most fundamental things before we get into those arguments.

The official opposition has asked that the preamble be amended by including the phrase “the dignity of and respect for human life”. That needs to be in the bill. It was in the Liberal majority report. It was in the official opposition's minority report and it needs to be in the forefront of the bill. It also needs to be in clause 22 of the bill as the primary objective of this new assisted human reproductive agency. It needs to have that as a guideline.

I come back to the whole issue that was highlighted, as I mentioned before, in the discussion between Preston Manning and Ms. Françoise Baylis from Dalhousie University. Ms. Baylis stated:

The first thing to recognize in the legislation and in all of your conversations is that embryos are human beings. That is an uncontested biological fact. They are a member of the human species. What is contested is their moral status. The language we use there is technical and that's where we talk about persons.

Therefore, the distinction for her is the distinction between a human being, which an embryo is, and a human person, but what has to be done in the bill and throughout the land on all of these life issues, I think, is that we then must distinguish between a human person and a human being, if there is a distinction. Maybe there is not a distinction. That is the debate we need to have in this place.

Ms. Baylis stated:

I think what becomes very clear is that when you're talking about embryos, you don't need to have a debate about whether or not they're human or human beings. The answer's yes. That's a biological claim. The term “person”, however, is not a biological term. It is not a term about which there are facts. It's a moral term. It's a value-laden term about which people will disagree, and they will then point to facts to try to tell you that their definition is the right one.

It seems to me that this is the main issue for us to debate here. Quite frankly I am not one who will stand in the House and say I know all the answers as to what exactly makes up a human person and a human being, but I have studied the issue. I have read the words of people like George Grant, one of the most pre-eminent Canadian philosophers of all time, who said this is the most fundamental question for any society because it impacts on so many other pieces of legislation and it impacts on how we value human life. He said that we have to decide what it is that is common to human beings and yet unique to them, so that we can stand up and say we have a charter of rights that says human persons have a right to life.

If human persons have a right to life, then we had better justify why it is they have that right to life. Is it the exercise of reason? Is it the capacity to exercise reason? Is it free will? Is it the capacity to exercise free will?

We have to decide exactly why it is we say that human beings or human persons have a right to life and the right not to be deprived thereof, or that for certain things such as an embryo, even an excess embryo created through IVF, somehow we can destroy that life and use it for research purposes. We need to answer that very fundamental question and debate that question in the House before we decide on what particulars the bill will have. That is the main point. That is why the official opposition has introduced this amendment, quite frankly: to ensure that this issue and this debate receive full deliberation and to ensure that in this very sensitive area we move very cautiously and prudently.

Legal Aid
Statements By Members

May 27th, 2002 / 1:55 p.m.


Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, apparently legal aid fees have not been increased since 1987. It was reported last week that as a result 46 Ontario regional law committees had withdrawn their services from legal aid work.

In addition, at the largest gathering of lawyers in British Columbia history, lawyers demanded that the attorney general restore the $48 million he plans to divert from legal aid.

Speaking to the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, lawyer David Scott said that low rates for lawyers have reduced our legal aid programs to “token systems”, where the rights of the poor are breached routinely.

Time is long overdue for governments to bring legal aid funding to fair levels. All Canadians must have access to legal counsel regardless of wealth.

Memorial Cup
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Kootenay Ice won the Memorial Cup in Guelph, Ontario.

Let us look at the team's history. In Cranbrook for only four years, the first two playing at the old Cranbrook Memorial Arena with a seating capacity of only 1,500, the Ice won the Western Hockey League championship in their second year, then moved to the new Cranbrook Recplex.

Now at 4,500 screaming fans, they decisively won the Western Hockey League championship this year. The Kootenay Ice lost their first two playoff games at home, but just like the rest of the residents in my constituency, they did not give up. They came back, first defeating Prince George, then Kelowna and then a very strong team from Red Deer.

Coached by Ryan McGill, the Ice moved on to win the Memorial Cup with a convincing 6-3 win over the Victoriaville Tigres. I wish to extend congratulations to team owner Ed Chynoweth and particularly to the players, who showed so much character in playing a controlled, disciplined, forceful style of hockey.

I was proud to be among the hundreds of Kootenay residents who went to Guelph, Ontario to cheer for the Ice. Fans and players were fire on ice.

World Partnership Walk
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday thousands of Canadians in cities across the country participated in the 18th annual World Partnership Walk. The Aga Khan Foundation organizes the annual walk in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and Portugal. It raises money for development projects in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia.

This year's walk brought in an estimated $2.6 million in Canada, 25% more than last year. There was also record breaking participation in many cities.

In the past 18 years this entirely volunteer run event has raised millions of dollars for the funding of early childhood development, health care improvements and rural development.

I ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating the Aga Khan Foundation on another successful World Partnership Walk and in applauding them for their very important work.

Jesse Rosensweet
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am both happy and proud to rise today and announce to the House that a Canadian was awarded one of the most coveted prizes of the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, which ended yesterday in France.

Toronto filmmaker Jesse Rosensweet won the jury prize for his short film The Stone of Folly during the closing ceremony of the 55th Cannes festival.

His animated film, lasting eight minutes, is a dark comedy about the adventures in a hospital during medieval times. Of the 11 short films listed in the official competition, The Stone of Folly was the clear audience favourite.

I invite the House to join me in congratulating Jesse Rosensweet for this major accomplishment. I am certain that we will be hearing more about him in the near future.

Bravo, Jesse.

Hepatitis Awareness Month
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that May has been declared Hepatitis Awareness Month by the Canadian Liver Foundation.

Hepatitis is the most prevalent liver disease in this country. It affects over a half million Canadian men, women and children. Hepatitis C, which spread by contact with contaminated blood, is expected to reach epidemic proportions in Canada increasing the number of liver related deaths by 126% and the demand for donor organs by 61% by the year 2008.

Hepatitis A and B are the only forms of liver disease that are preventable by vaccine, yet thousands of people still contract these diseases each year because they do not understand their risks or how to protect themselves.

The Canadian Liver Foundation was the first organization in the world committed to reducing the incidence and the impact of hepatitis and other forms of liver disease.

For those living with hepatitis, the foundation's 30 volunteer chapters across the country are a valuable source of information and support. I ask the House to join me today in honouring the Canadian Liver Foundation and its volunteers during Hepatitis Awareness Month.

Member for York Centre
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I remember just a couple of months ago, when we were asking questions about the conduct of the Minister of National Defence, that he was having some trouble explaining about his men taking al-Qaeda prisoners in Afghanistan. He was not very clear on when he had been briefed, on when he had been rebriefed, on when he had told the caucus, on when he had told the Prime Minister and on why he had not told the Prime Minister. However the Prime Minister still refused to replace that minister.

That was not all. The defence minister was not sure about uniforms. He was not too clear on the rules of engagement. He was not very solid on helicopters. He was not all that impressive on any of it, quite frankly. Still he stayed on in the job until Sunday when the overwhelming incompetence caught up with the staggering lack of ethics.

Canadians deserve better.

Member for York Centre
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

I think the hon. member knows that attacks on members are not permitted under Standing Order 31 statements.

Féria du vélo de Montréal
Statements By Members

2 p.m.


Raymonde Folco Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, the 11th Tour des enfants launched the Féria du vélo de Montréal. During this event, more than 6,500 kids rode 20 km on bicycles in the streets of Montreal.

It took a great deal of courage and perseverance for these kids to brave mother nature and take up this challenge. Afterwards, they clearly relished the celebrations planned for them.

Throughout the weekend, Montrealers were encouraged to use their bikes to travel the streets of the city.

Adults are also invited to take up the challenge of the Tour de l'Île, which will be held at the end of the week and will close this year's Féria du vélo de Montréal. Many kilometers of streets will be reserved for the use of cyclists. Take advantage of it.

Government Contracts
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, for several weeks now, the media, the opposition parties and all those who believe in transparency have been asking the government to launch a public inquiry.

New revelations are made daily. The reports from Groupaction, the contracts to L'Almanach du peuple , and the connections linking the former minister of public works and the minister of immigration to an advertising firm seem to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Over the weekend, we learned that another minister, namely the Minister of National Defence, displayed favoritism by awarding a $36,500 contract to his ex-girlfriend.

How many more scandals will have to be unearthed before the Prime Minister realizes the need for a public inquiry?

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on May 23 the Ontario health minister, Tony Clement, announced that the heart and vascular surgery unit of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario will close in April 2003.

When the CHEO unit closes, eastern Ontario children requiring vascular surgery or emergency cardiac procedures will have to travel approximately 400 kilometres to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children to receive the medical attention they so desperately require.

CHEO serves a population of approximately 1.5 million people in eastern Ontario. Why would 140 children per year who require cardiac or vascular procedures travel to Toronto when an effective unit exists already at CHEO? Not only will this put some children at risk, it will worsen the almost unbearable stress already experienced by these children and their families. Centralization is not the best way to improve health care delivery in Ontario.

While he attempts to explain this most recent announcement to eastern Ontarians, I wonder if Mr. Clement will declare that Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children will offer its services in both official languages, as the CHEO has been mandated to do.

Member for Glengarry--Prescott--Russell
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us rewind the tape to last Thursday. The minister of public works was having a very difficult day explaining to the House that he might have made a little mistake in selecting a departmental contractor's home for a family vacation weekend but that it really was not all that bad.

Opposition question after opposition question called for him to do the honourable thing and resign. “No, no, Mr. Speaker”, said the minister, “there is no reason to resign”. “No, no, Mr. Speaker”, said the Prime Minister, “I have confidence in my minister”.

Two days later the world changed. The minister was tossed out of his portfolio and was no longer credible in the role of clean-up guy.

However, in a strange twist he reappears in his old job and Canadians are left to wonder whether he was fired, punished, rewarded or given a get out of jail free card from the Prime Minister.

When it comes to ethics and morals, there is much to wonder about with this government.

National Defence
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Janko Peric Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the 136 Kiowa air cadet squadron from Ayr and the 21 Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada army cadets from Cambridge.

Founded two years ago, the 136 Kiowa is Canada's newest air cadet squadron while the 21 army cadet corps was formed in 1887. The 121 Galt branch of the Royal Canadian Legion sponsors both groups.

The national cadet organization promotes leadership, responsibility, discipline, good citizenship, physical fitness, communication skills and an interest in the Canadian forces. Cadets receive hands on training that complements school studies with some education boards accepting cadet subjects for school credits.

My riding of Cambridge has a long and proud history of involvement with the national cadet program and I welcome these cadets to Ottawa as they learn about parliament and our federal institutions.

Ottawa Jewish Community
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Ottawa Jewish community is living in fear today, its religious institutions under siege as police have warned of an impending attack on a local synagogue. This is disturbing in itself but even more so because it is part of a pattern of hate motivated crimes against Jewish institutions across Canada.

Just a week ago Quebec City's only synagogue was firebombed. Earlier attacks occurred against Jewish institutions in Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton. This is not to mention the rise in anti-Semitic vandalism and personal assaults. There have been 110 reports of anti-Semitic incidents this year alone. In Winnipeg, members of the Jewish community report an increase in incidents of verbal abuse, racial slurs and damaging graffiti.

These horrific developments demand our immediate attention. As the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg has said, the situation requires the Canadian government to be bold, decisive and unequivocal in speaking out against what has become a well planned campaign of hatred and vilification.

Let us stand today against the rising tide of anti-Semitism and against racially and religiously motivated hatred any time it happens, anywhere in Canada.

Cabinet Shuffle
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Pierrette Venne Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, after being pressured for several months because of a series of scandals, the Prime Minister was forced to make an urgent cabinet shuffle, the second one in four months, and he demoted the minister of public works.

Yet, this minister had been appointed in January to clean up the department after the controversial Alfonso Gagliano left, in the midst of accusations of political interference.

With this new shuffle, the Prime Minister is once again hoping to clear his government of the multiple accusations that are being levelled at it.

But no one will be fooled. This is a cosmetic shuffle, a sad attempt to divert people's attention from the real problem, which is the corruption that plagues this government. We all know that the real problem remains and the Prime Minister can rest assured that the Bloc Quebecois will get to the bottom of things.