Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today, at third reading stage of the bill on assisted human reproductive technologies, to draw the attention of the hon. members of this House to a common occurrence in this Parliament.
We saw it this morning, during private members' business, when we debated a motion about intrusion in Quebec's jurisdictions, which was put forward by the hon. member for Trois-Rivières. This is a case in point.
The assisted human reproduction bill was introduced a long time ago, and has been before this House for a very long time. It dates back to even before the April 14, 2003 election in Quebec. At the time, Quebec was opposed. Federalist members in this place may think that there was opposition because there was sovereignist government in Quebec City, but it is not so.
The new Government of Quebec, a federalist government led by Mr. Charest, and the health minister, Mr. Couillard, have spoken out against this bill. They did not address the substance, but wondered whether this was not a systematic encroachment on an area of provincial responsibility.
Therefore, the Bloc Quebecois cannot support such a motion. The current federalist Government of Quebec will not support such a bill either, and does not want it passed.
I remind the hon. members that Bill C-13 on assisted reproduction will make human cloning a criminal offence. That is not a problem, since the Criminal Code falls under federal jurisdiction. We therefore support this notion. The same is true of the ban on paid surrogacy.
The Bloc Quebecois, the Government of Quebec and all parties in the National Assembly of Quebec all agree, however, when it comes to the establishment of a Canadian agency to monitor the practices used by fertility clinics across the country. That is what the Quebec health minister, Mr. Couillard, is opposed to.
It is important for people to realize that the government is putting legislation through in an area over which it has, for a large part, no jurisdiction. In this respect, the Bloc Quebecois proposed that the bill be split, to ensure that federal jurisdiction was clearly defined, and that we would be voting on the matters of federal jurisdiction. As for the part that is more specifically a provincial jurisdiction, we should leave it to the provinces to look after it.
It was reported in Le Devoir that:
The position taken by the Charest government makes it even more unlikely that this very controversial bill will be passed in the House of Commons over the next few days.
Quebec understands what is going on here. When the Government of Quebec speaks out against the fact that the federal government is encroaching upon its jurisdiction, it is totally normal for Quebeckers to be united in seeking justice.
We often see this type of behaviour on the part of the federal government. We saw it with young offenders and with the millennium scholarships. Bills that interfere in Quebec's jurisdictions are being rammed through the House, which makes it obvious that this government does not believe in co-operative federalism.
Today, we know that the Government of Quebec, a federalist government headed by Jean Charest, is against this bill. It wants everything that comes under provincial jurisdiction to be removed from the bill. So why would the federal government not take the time to re-examine its bill and remove from it all aspects that are not under its jurisdiction, so as to respect the consensus that exists in Quebec?
We also know that members of the Alliance and a number of pro-life Liberal members are opposed to this bill. More specifically, they are opposed to the use of human embryos for stem cell research. This is not the thrust of the debate in which I am taking part this morning. Indeed, it is an area that needs to be regulated, but it must always be done with respect for provincial jurisdictions.
In fact, the Quebec health minister, Mr. Couillard, said that if the bill were defeated or died on the order paper, he firmly intended to deal with this issue. He said that this issue could not be left dangling, that a firmer regulatory framework was needed and that they would clarify the situation with their federal counterparts and then decide whether or not there was a need to legislate.
However, the federal government must first accept to take a step backwards and wait before passing this bill so there is no interference in provincial jurisdictions.
We know full well that Quebec has no jurisdiction in criminal matters, but it could have jurisdiction over the organization and management of fertility clinics. Mr. Couillard, the minister, said so himself, and I quote:
We will set up the appropriate legislative framework in our own jurisdiction, but I shall wait to see how the federal plan evolves before going any further.
Thus, we are in a system, the federal system, where each of the two governments claims jurisdiction over the same sector, from time to time. Here it is clear: the aspect relating to the Criminal Code is a federal responsibility, while the aspect relating to management of fertility clinics and all aspects related to health are under provincial jurisdiction.
Moreover, different approaches have become established in various provinces for some years. In Quebec, we hope to continue to be progressive in this field, to show leadership and adopt attitudes that reflect the will of Quebeckers. That is what is lacking today.
Often, there are situations that are difficult to assess; there must be legislation to manage the issues of cloning and surrogate motherhood. It is important to make laws in this domain, because if no one does, problems will be left unresolved and behaviours will become habits. Nevertheless, the federal responsibility is not to take a position in areas under provincial jurisdiction, but rather to pass a bill that deals with its own jurisdiction, as soon as possible.
If the federal government had taken this kind of attitude when the bill was first debated in the House—I think that was over a year ago—we would already have settled the issue. In fact, we could have split the bill and adopted it based on the elements that are federal government responsibilities. On that part of the bill, the Bloc Quebecois would probably have supported the federal government. As for the other part of the bill, which is not within federal jurisdiction, the Bloc cannot support the government.
The government led by Jean Charest, the Parti Quebecois, as official opposition, the Action démocratique du Québec, intervenors from the field, who are familiar with actual practice in Quebec, and the general public—although they may not all agree on the approach to be taken—all believe that the Government of Quebec has the responsibility, that it should shoulder that responsibility and that the federal government should stick to its own areas of jurisdiction.
We know that unacceptable practices such as creating human clones do exist now. There are also the fertility clinics' activities, for which Quebec is responsible. Bill C-13 contains a number of flaws that should be corrected. I still have hopes as far as opposition to this bill is concerned. The government has to correctly evaluate the situation. The government is responsible for passing legislation in areas under federal jurisdiction in order to deal with this problem.
If the government does not modify its current approach, the bill could very well be defeated by the House for a number of reasons. Many Alliance members are opposed in principle. The Bloc members, as well as all the federal Liberal members, should oppose this bill. The Quebec government, which represents all Quebeckers, has said through the health minister that it did not wand the federal government to adopt this kind of legislation and that it should take all the parts under provincial jurisdiction out of it.
We would like to think that the federal Liberals understand what the Quebec government is asking. It is no longer a sovereignist government asking. It is a federalist government, which has said that it was reaching out to the federal government in order to establish co-operative federalism. However, we see that the federal government across the way has not responded. It still wants to ram the bill through, despite the Quebec government's opposition.
I think that many federal Liberal members from Quebec who have already sat in Quebec's National Assembly should oppose the bill or make representations to their government to ensure that the part of the bill that concerns provincial jurisdiction is taken out of the bill in order to avoid confusion and to ensure that there is no intrusion into what is not under federal jurisdiction.
For all these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois intends to vote against the bill.