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House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was iraq.

Topics

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from citizens of various parts of Ontario who are concerned about the fact that the Canada Post Corporation Act prohibits rural route mail couriers from having collective bargaining rights and they call upon Parliament to repeal section 13(5) of the Canada Post Corporation Act.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition on behalf of citizens of Northumberland county who petition on behalf of numerous people who suffer illnesses such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury. They point out that ethical stem cell research has proved to be valuable for addressing the conditions of such people and they call upon Parliament to focus its legislative efforts on adult stem cell research to find cures and therapies necessary to treat such illnesses and to help Canadians with those illnesses.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

January 29th, 2003 / 3:55 p.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers Nos. P-15 and P-16 in the name of the right hon. member for Calgary Centre.

Motion No. P-15

That an Order of the House do issue for the production of copies of all reports of the Ethics Counsellor concerning the former Solicitor General.

Motion No. P-16

That an Order of the House do issue for the production of copies of all reports of the Ethics Counsellor concerning the former Minister of National Defence.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to have the parliamentary secretary please explain to the House why it is that he has had answers on the production of papers for two of the questions that have been tabled by the right hon. member for Calgary Centre, but there are still ten outstanding. Could the parliamentary secretary please tell us why the other ten have not been answered?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, I do not have the information on that in front of me. I will have to check that and get back to my hon. colleague. I believe those answers are in departments and are on their way here. I hope to have them soon, but I will get back to my hon. colleague on the status of those answers.

Mr. Speaker, the report in question is considered advice provided for the use of government and is exempt from release--this is Motion No. P-15, by the way--as per the Prime Minister's statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday, October 22, 2002. On that date, in response to a question from the hon. Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister stated:

I received the report from the ethics counsellor. He is a counsellor to me. When he is advising me, the ministers, members of Parliament or bureaucrats, these communications are privileged between the adviser and the Prime Minister.

Therefore I ask the right hon. member to withdraw his motion.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not withdraw that motion. I think it is nonsense for the reports of the ethics counsellor to be hidden from this Parliament. It is a question of fundamental principle and right of this Parliament and the people of Canada to know the facts, so the question stands, Sir.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The matter is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).

Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-16 in the name of the right hon. member for Calgary Centre.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, there was no written report on this issue, therefore I ask the right hon. member to withdraw his motion.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will take that matter to debate.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Accordingly the matter is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all other Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

4 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I wish to inform the House that, because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 23 minutes.

The House resumed from January 27 consideration of Bill C-13, an act respecting assisted human reproduction, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 4.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise again on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to complete my remarks on Bill C-13 on assisted human reproductive technologies and related research.

We oppose the bill unless it is amended. Before I continue my remarks I will summarize what I said yesterday.

The Canadian Alliance minority report recommended that the final legislation clearly recognize the human embryo as human life and that the statutory declaration include the phrase “respect for human life”. All human beings possess the fundamental human rights of life and freedom. I also said that it is in the best interest of every child to know who his or her parents are. No sperm or egg donors should be anonymous.

AHRs, assisted human reproduction clinics, would have to be licensed and tightly regulated. All regulations must be laid before Parliament and automatically referred to the health committee.

I also stated that I strongly support and encourage health sciences research and development, and research on adult stem cells. Thus, we are calling for more funding of adult stem cell research. I support provisions against human and therapeutic cloning, animal-human hybrids, sex selection, gene line alteration, buying or selling of embryos, and paid surrogacy.

Commercial surrogacy would be banned but the expenses of surrogate mothers could be repaid. Thus, surrogate mothers could result in effective commercial surrogacy. That is why we oppose Motion No. 52.

The health minister wants to undo the amendments made at committee which would make counselling for surrogacy mandatory and which were supported by the Canadian Alliance. It waters down the intent of members of the health committee that such counselling be required, ideally by a third party and not by a fertility clinic.

Becoming a surrogate is a very serious matter to the extent that the health committee saw fit to amend the bill to prohibit surrogacy for women under age 21. Surrogacy can have profound effects on relationships between husband and wife, within families, between surrogate and adopting parents, and most important, on the surrogate children themselves. Therefore counselling should be mandatory. I wonder why the health minister is not explaining or defending her amendment.

We also oppose Motion No. 72. The minister again wants to undo the committee amendment requiring board members of AHR agencies to come under conflict of interest rules. Board members should not have commercial interests in the field of AHR or related research, for example, fertility clinics, biotech companies, et cetera.

Imagine an employee or investor in a biotech company with a financial interest in embryonic stem cell research making decisions for Canadians on the regulation of such research, including the definition of the word “necessary” as specified in clause 40. Or imagine a director of a fertility clinic making regulations on the limits of sperm and egg donations or the number of embryos produced for IVF treatments. Such conflicts of interest need to be prevented in the legislation. The minister needs to explain and defend these amendments.

In a nutshell, we oppose the bill. On the particular motions I mentioned, I indicated whether we support or oppose them. I would like to make clear that I support stem cell research but we would like to put a moratorium on embryonic research for a period of three years.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

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.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this bill.

Right off the bat, I would like to commend one person and a group. I want to commend the Alliance Party critic, the member for Yellowhead, for the outstanding work he has done in dealing with this issue. Along with that, I congratulate the committee which has come up with some pretty good recommendations and amendments at the committee level that have been presented to the minister, which are now amendments that the minister wants to eliminate and undo. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why that is the case.

The minister should be in the House explaining for example why there should not be mandatory counselling for relationships between husbands and wives, surrogate parents, children and all the people involved. Counselling should be mandatory because of the possible deep effects on the relationships of the individuals involved.

Why in the world would the minister want to not make that kind of counselling mandatory as recommended by the committee? It makes no sense for that kind of motion to be proposed without the minister standing in this place and trying to explain to people why that kind of a change would be so necessary. It makes absolutely no sense that she is not available to defend the stand in that regard.

I apologize if I have wandered off into things I should not say, but I do want to point out that--

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Let me interrupt very briefly to remind the House, since we have just come back from the Christmas break period, that the longstanding practice in our Chamber has always been to not refer to the absence of any members in the House given the very varied tasks that we are all called upon to perform in our duties.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I did not wish to refer to the absence or presence of anyone. I just wanted to refer to the fact that there has been no explanation from the department or the minister's office to explain to me and other members why this kind of proposal would be brought forward.

As the opposition, one of the major problems we have had with practically all departments, HRDC, justice, heritage and so on, has been accountability. That is one area in which the government has demonstrated its weakness over and over again. For the minister to want to undo an amendment presented by the committee which required the board members of the human reproduction agency--

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Again I hesitate to interrupt the hon. member but I have a point of order from the hon. member for Yellowhead.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Canadian Alliance Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This is arguably one of the most important pieces of legislation that we will be dealing with in the 37th Parliament. It is important that we look at it in all seriousness. I would like to ask for a quorum call.