Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House of Commons in the new year on behalf of the constituents of Calgary East. I am very happy to speak to Bill C-13, an act respecting assisted human reproductive technologies and related research.
As we all know, at the beginning of the year the Clonaid company said that it had cloned a human being, the first cloned baby. This sent shock waves around the world. All religious leaders and people who want dignity given to human life were shocked and stunned by the news. I was stunned also. I hope we do not go along with that research.
The bill is an attempt to not go toward the route of cloning, but the route of research, the route of human reproduction technology. There are a lot of consequences for this research.
We tried to draft this in a bill in committee. A committee researched the issue and presented its report. The report indicated that we needed to address the issue and bring in rules and regulations and try to stop the free-for-all research which has the potential of going in the direction that society in general does not want to go and respect the basic principle of human life.
The government presented Bill C-13 to try and address the issue. While the intent is there to have some control and some rules and regulations, some sort of ethical behaviour and ethical dimensions to this point, nevertheless like anything else the government does, it is job that has only been half done. The bill tries to do everything and in the process, it ends up doing nothing. That is the essence of why the Canadian Alliance opposes Bill C-13.
My colleague has presented many amendments. We hope that these amendments will be accepted and will make the bill stronger. Then we can address all the issues and ensure that there are no loopholes or cracks in the system. This is a subject that is creating a tremendous amount of debate among Canadians.
In Motion No. 72 the government has created an agency that will be given the mandate to create some ethical guidelines as well as rules for doing research on stem cells, whether they are embryonic or adult stem cells.
The problem as usual is there seems to be a lack of commitment by the government. It is somehow afraid to take a tough stand. There are no conflict of interest guidelines. The minister has the power to appoint anyone to the board.
If the minister appoints a person who falls under the conflict of interest rules, what stops that person from having a conflict, such as working for a biotech company? Of course, the minister will say that it is not possible and they are going to do due diligence. But again what is the problem? Why can it not be put in the bill to make it transparent that a person who has a conflict of interest will not be appointed to the board? That is clear, plain and simple. Yet that is missing, and it gives the authority to the minister.
Canadians know very well the record of the government on transparency. They know about the boondoggle in the gun registry.
This afternoon the government introduced the bill on political party financing. In the dying days of his regime, the Prime Minister is now bringing in this legislation. He wants to leave a legacy but he has opened up to the fact that his Kyoto legacy is going off on a tangent and his African legacy is having severe problems. He wants to create that as a legacy, despite opposition from his own members. He is talking about bringing in transparency, but the government's record on transparency has left Canadians shaking their heads. With this bill, it is again showing up here.
It is amazing how the government is so afraid to step into the area where people are held more accountable. I do not know what the government is afraid of. The Prime Minister will not give accountability even to his backbenchers. Look at the vote we had on choosing the committee chairmen. The Prime Minister is the one who had problems with that.
The government's record on transparency and allowing openness is on the record and Canadians will not buy into it. The same thing is happening on the subject of stem cell research, which is a subject of the future. The potential for research and for finding cures for many of what ails the human race through stem cells is tremendous. There is a desire to see that this research carries on, but in a manner that is acceptable to the Canadian people. We do not want to go down the road of what we heard when that company came out of nowhere and said it had cloned a human being.
It is critically important as we debate this bill that we in the official opposition point out what we think are the flaws of this bill. Therefore, it is difficult for us support the bill.