House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.


The House resumed from April 10 consideration of the motion that Bill C-13, an act respecting assisted human reproduction, be read the third time and passed.

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10 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this debate which has gone on for a very long time.

Given new found interest in the passage of this bill, I am sure that members would eagerly want to vote on it. Therefore, I move:

That the question be now put.

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The Deputy Speaker

There will now be a period of questions or comments.

On a point of order, the hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

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Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of clarification, you stated that we would be in a period of questions or comments. Is it debate for 10 minutes, and if so, for how long?

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10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair erred in suggesting or putting forward the possibility of questions or comments.

We will proceed to debate, with interventions of 10 minutes without questions or comments.

On a point of order, the hon. member for Mississauga South.

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10 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, just for clarification, the main motion before the House is passage at third reading and members are here to speak. If members rise to ask questions or to speak on the motion that the question be now put, does that take the place of their time or their opportunity to speak at third reading? Is this similar to the process that we go through when the government proposes closure and there is an isolated debate around that motion?

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10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

No, this is not an isolated debate. We will proceed with the debate on Bill C-13, with interventions being 10 minutes without questions or comments.

On a point of order, the hon. member for Mississauga South.

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10:05 a.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the last time this bill was called was April 10. Prior to that we went through a period of report stage motions. There were many that were passed on voice votes during the debate at report stage, and several that were passed where a recorded division was requested.

I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to request a reprinting of Bill C-13 that was returned from committee because members are now being asked for the last time to speak on Bill C-13. It would be very useful for them to see exactly what bill they are debating and what the specific provisions are.

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10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member for Mississauga South have the consent of the House to propose the motion?

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members


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Some hon. members


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The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Southeast.

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Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not pleased to speak under the current circumstances. The government House leader has effectively brought closure on this matter of great importance.

The field which we are addressing in the bill is a dynamic field of science where the facts are changing on a weekly, if not daily basis. It is rare that we can open a newspaper without seeing some startling new scientific success and discovery with respect to the potential of adult and non-embryonic stem cells.

The science in the field of non-embryonic stem cells is increasing almost exponentially. We are now in a world of potential in terms of the research and application of non-embryonic stem cells. I would suggest that this is dramatically different in concrete terms than it was when the bill was first tabled by the Minister of Health.

In that time, in the ensuing two years since the original tabling of the bill, we have yet to see a single concrete application or useful research discovery with respect to embryonic stem cells, which is explicitly authorized in the bill.

That is why this matter deserves further consideration, not to delay for the sake of delaying. I recognize fully that there are aspects of Bill C-13 which are not controversial and have broad consensual support across the political and partisan spectrum in the House. There is also consensual support across the research and ethical spectrum of opinion for provisions in the bill that seek to ban human cloning and with respect to maternal surrogacy.

However, I believe, and I have heard members of the Liberal caucus argue in the House and members of all parties suggest, that there would be overwhelming consensus to pass a bill swiftly which would incorporate the non-controversial elements such as the ban on cloning which do not raise ethical concerns.

Following the review of the draft legislation tabled by the previous health minister, that is precisely why the majority of members from all parties on the Standing Committee on Health recommended that the bill be split between those elements, including the ban on cloning, which carry broad consensual support, and those elements, particularly the authorization of embryonic stem cell research, which raise grave ethical and moral questions.

It is regretable that the government ignored the advice of its own members on the Standing Committee on Health by refusing to split the bill between those aspects which were broadly supported and those aspects which remain highly controversial because of the ethical and moral concerns in respect of creating human life in order to destroy it, which is essentially what is contemplated in the process of embryonic stem cell research.

As I say, this is a dynamic field, which is precisely why we ought to listen to those voices. Many witnesses at the health committee called for a three year moratorium or a moratorium of some reasonable period on embryonic stem cell research to prohibit this troublesome procedure and to allow us to assess the development of science in this field. This is a procedure which involves the destruction and manipulation of a unique nascent human life and which therefore offends, I believe, the ethical and moral principles upon which liberal democracies such as Canada are founded without a consequent scientific or health benefit.

There has not been a single assertion of a demonstrated scientific empirical benefit from research on embryonic stem cells.

Why then would we authorize the manipulation and destruction of a nascent life even from the utilitarian perspective given that there is no utility in that material demonstrated by scientists to this point?

That is the fundamental question which we now face. That is why many members would like further consideration of the bill unless the government is prepared to listen to the health committee and split it.

Let me point out a peculiar and strange contradiction with respect to government policy in relation to this bill. The government claims that the language in the bill would ban all forms of human cloning, both therapeutic and reproductive, and I hope that is the case. Some testimony was presented in health committee which suggested that the definition found in the bill with respect to human cloning was not sufficiently broad and was too narrow to cover all forms of human cloning.

I am not a scientist so it is difficult for me to make that assessment. However, I am a politician and I hear the government stating on the one hand that it wishes to ban both therapeutic and reproductive cloning in the bill, but currently is taking a different position at the United Nations where it has supported the ratification of a draft treaty which would explicitly ban only reproductive cloning but not therapeutic cloning. That raises serious questions for me.

If the policy of the government, as reflected in Bill C-13, were to honestly and sincerely ban all forms of cloning as it claims, then why would that the same government, in New York today as reported in newspapers across the country, be advocating in favour of the legalization of reproductive non-therapeutic human cloning?

There is a dichotomy in the government's position with respect to this issue which raises reasonable doubt as to the intent of those who drafted the relevant sections of Bill C-13 to actually ban all forms of cloning, both therapeutic and reproductive. That is why the bill requires further and closer scrutiny.

Is it really the position of the government not to ban all forms of human cloning--an odious, nightmarish procedure, which gives man the power to play God and create the kind of nightmare society that writers like Aldous Huxley imagined and described--or is it the position of the government to recognize the miracle of human life and not try to replicate it ourselves?

If the latter is the case, then why is the government today taking the position at the United Nations that we should legalize internationally,--and not just in Canada--through the instrument of a UN treaty, the cloning of human beings for so-called therapeutic purposes, a procedure which is itself grossly offensive to any thinking person from a rational ethical perspective? Why is the government taking the position that unique individual human lives should be created to offer spare parts as science experiments and replicated, each possessing an unviolable dignity, to be used in the same fashion as used cars thrown out in a junk yard?

It is deeply offensive, however that is the position of the government as reported in today's Ottawa Citizen and Southam newspapers across the country.

I would ask all members to reflect seriously on exactly what Bill C-13 says. I would ask them not to take at face value the claims being offered by the health department which do not seem to be reflected by the government at the UN negotiations today in New York.

I would also encourage members to look very closely at the false, specious, unproven assertion that there is some putative health benefit from research on human embryos which requires their production and then destruction.

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10:15 a.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Haliburton—Victoria—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly also want to join in on the debate on Bill C-13 at third reading, even though basically there is now a move to invoke closure on the bill.

I think we have to take some time because the bill actually does represent life itself, and the information on this technology is certainly evolving. As time goes on, there is more and more in the technology coming forward that causes us to stop and to be concerned. The intent of the bill two years ago was certainly not the technology that is available today to support it.

I think the legislation could be passed very quickly if the bill were split and the controversial items in it taken out; they are very few and I do not understand the minister's reluctance to do this.

It bothers me that a committee of the House of Commons would make recommendations that would be completely ignored by the minister.

As we looked at changing the structure of the House of Commons, something in which I have been involved in the last few years, I was looking forward to the fact that committees would actually have some relevance, that they would not be partisan and that they would not be just carrying out the wishes of the government. I thought that committees would actually follow the recommendations that come from all parties during the debate and upon listening to the various witnesses who came forward.

In looking at this particular legislation, I notice that pretty nearly all the recommendations of the committee have been ignored, not necessarily on the things we all agree with, but on the things we disagree with.

The committee conducted very extensive hearings on the draft bill. It presented 34 recommendations, some of which the member for Mississauga South recommended and brought forward and which I seconded. I thought the recommendations had some basis for and merited discussion. I am sorry to see that the minister chose not to appear before the committee or not to listen to the committee. The minister chose instead to blindly go forward without any basis in fact on the actual bill itself.

As the committee went through clause by clause at report stage, the minister basically proposed three motions that reversed all three of the committee recommendations. I think that maybe the committees of the House of Commons in the next Parliament should be re-examined, reformed and looked at in the light of their relevance. Because if the government is just going to blindly pass legislation without input from the committees, if it is not going to refer the bills to committees and then take the recommendations of expert witnesses, I find I am in a quandary about how I can support such legislation going ahead.

Mr. Speaker, you will know that it was a legislative committee which did some of the work on the anti-terrorist legislation. Many of the recommendations came forward from witnesses, some of which were questionable witnesses, the ethics counsellor and some others, but the fact is that those recommendations were taken into consideration. Changes were then made to some of the 22 pieces of legislation before that committee.

We now have a bill with 28 areas in which regulations have to be developed, and the bill itself is flawed in many instances, to say the least.

I find that this is a bill dealing entirely with what I would consider the life of a baby. Even the Minister of Health, in recommendations on when life begins, has now come out with labelling on cigarette packages which states, “Smoking during pregnancy can harm the life of a baby”. That does not say a fetus. That does not say something which does not exist. It says a baby. So on one side of its recommendations the department admits that life begins at conception, and on the other side it is saying it does not.

I find a contradiction here. I am at odds with the minister on this, because as a pro-lifer, which puts me in the “God squad” as I am told, whatever that means, it means to me that I stand up for what I believe. I do not intend to change my mind. I do not have any science to indicate that I should change my mind. Nothing has been brought forward to indicate that I am wrong, in my mind of course, as in some people's minds I am dead wrong on almost everything. That is what happens when one is in an adversarial situation with the Government of Canada and representing a large rural riding.

On Bill C-13 and the actual closure legislation that has been brought forth, it allows us an hour to debate a bill that should be debated at far greater length. Speakers should have been allowed to come forward, as the member for Mississauga South has indicated, like many groups appearing before the committee that have not been heard in Parliament and have not had their views brought forward.

Members of Parliament are uninformed about the bill. They have made up their minds based on what the minister has told them to say. I find that reprehensible in regard to the way I operate. I believe we should look at every bill, examine bills as members of Parliament, listen to all the evidence or at least have the courtesy to read the evidence, come to our own conclusions and then be judged based on our conscience as to how we in fact vote on a bill.

I was not prepared to speak on the bill this morning. I felt that it would follow its normal course. It would have a lot of debate on both sides, there would be input at third reading and I would be able to represent the views of my riding, which are, by the way, mixed. I think the views are mixed because the evidence brought forward is not evidence that in fact has reached a conclusion and it is not a basis for fact.

The difference between a disease and a syndrome is an inconclusive body of evidence. I believe that what we are dealing with here is indeed an inconclusive body of evidence. Technology changes almost hourly as laboratories do more work on reproductive technology and as people delve into the problems that come with this type of legislation, in which, as I said earlier, we deal with life itself.

We are facing a moral dilemma as to how we should deal with reproductive technologies, particularly the related research that goes with it. I believe there are medical doctors on all sides of this legislation that would allow for a difference of opinion and allow more technology to be considered. Also, not splitting the bill and not listening to the committee troubles me. I think that committees should have more input and more relevance and should be able to function separately from the House, bring back their reports and have those reports considered.

I am disappointed that the minister has chosen, first, not to appear before the committee, which I think is a travesty of justice. I think all ministers owe it to committees to appear, to put their voices forward and to explain to the committees why in fact they support a piece of legislation or why in fact they brought it forward. That bothers me.

I will conclude by saying that there are certain parts of the bill I support wholeheartedly, but there are areas that need further study and need to be looked at in their entirety, and the technology that is coming forward needs to be studied.

Therefore, I want to express my disappointment that this process has in fact been instituted by the minister.

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10:25 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-13 is very important. As we know, it concerns assisted human reproduction. I can understand that there are divergent opinions on this matter. I know that some members of the House oppose this project for religious or other personal reasons. I do not share their views. However, we must divide the issue and see the positive and the scientific side of assisted reproduction. As I was saying, it is not simply a religious question or a question of conscience; one very important aspect is that, with assisted reproduction, we can help families or people who truly need help.

I will give the House a little scenario. For some years now, a cluster of technological developments have made the headlines. From Dolly the sheep to the debate about cloning human embryos for therapeutic purposes, the exciting buzz of biotechnology is taking us down previously unexplored paths. The fact that today we have some ability to deconstruct matter and, to some extent, reconstruct a living being, means that we are confronted with new problems, whose extent we still do not comprehend. These new possibilities require increased vigilance and solid ethical examination, in order to ensure that we do not overstep certain boundaries. In order to do this, a new legal language, new concepts and a new political approach are required.

Over the years, many parliamentarians, including a number from the Bloc Quebecois, have exposed the legal vacuum surrounding assisted reproduction. Again and again, we have revived the debate by calling on citizens and experts to express themselves and by demanding that the federal government impose socially acceptable limits as soon as possible. Still, we must admit that it is difficult to strike a balance between a solid ethical position that respects human dignity and the need to meet therapeutic needs.

We must decide overall how we view life and what kind of technological progress we want. Society has to make some choices, and it is high time for this debate to move into the public arena, so that everyone can have their say. Recently tabled legislation on assisted human reproduction by the federal government is a good first step in stimulating this discussion and, at the same time, relaunching a social debate temporarily shelved.

I want to review the highlights of this legislation. On May 9, the Minister of Health introduced this highly anticipated legislation on assisted human reproduction. It seeks to protect the health and safety of individuals using assisted reproductive technologies to start a family, to prohibit unacceptable activities, such as human cloning, and to regulate assisted reproductive technologies and related research. The assisted human reproduction agency of Canada, which will be created under this legislation, will issue licences for research, monitor such activities and oversee the application of the legislation on assisted reproduction.

Safety must, to some extent, be ensured. In order to ensure the health and safety of those who turn to assisted reproduction, this bill stipulates that individuals thinking of donating an ovum or an embryo for assisted human reproduction or research purposes must give their informed consent in writing before any procedure. Children born through the use of reproductive material will have access to medical information on donors, but will not necessarily have access to their identity, donors being free to decide whether or not to divulge their identity.

The legislation would also prohibit unacceptable activities, such as the creation of human clones for any reason whatsoever, i.e. for purposes of reproduction or for therapeutic purposes. The legislation would also prohibit creating an in vitro embryo for purposes other than creating a human being or improving assisted reproduction procedures, creating chimeras or hybrids for reproductive purposes, providing financial inducements to a woman to become a surrogate mother, and buying or selling human embryos or providing property or services in exchange.

I would like to present an overview of the pros and cons as set out in the various arguments we have heard throughout the discussions on human cloning. The arguments of those in favour of stem cell research fall into four main categories: historical, medical, humanitarian and legal-political.

Let us begin with the historical arguments. In the 1970s, there was vocal opposition to DNA research. After the establishment of government guidelines, however, not only was there good monitoring of research, but research also led to the development of human insulin for diabetics.

As for the medical arguments, many are of the opinion that embryonic stem cell research has a huge potential for curative medicine.

Humanitarian arguments are usually advanced by associations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, based on their belief that such research is indispensable to improving the situation of those with the disease. Some experts point out that there are hundreds of frozen embryos in fertility clinics throughout Canada that have become useless, whereas they could have been used to help find treatments for such diseases as cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

Now for the legal-political arguments. Certain women's groups and certain legal experts argue that, in our current legal framework, the Supreme Court has been obliged, since 1988, to recognize that not only is a fetus not a human being—which civil law also acknowledges—but that it cannot be considered viable before the 20th week of gestation. Thus, if a fetus is not a human being, then tissues from it are not tissues from a human being.

Now for the arguments against. Research on human embryonic stem cells is controversial, mainly because it involves destruction of the embryo used. According to the Catholic Church, the creation of embryos for research purposes and the use of embryonic stem cells are actions contrary to the will of God, for whom reproduction must always be a conjugal act. Since the embryo is a potential human being, according to the Church it must have a special moral status. Moreover, numerous associations have expressed the fear that cloning, initially justified as a means to a cure for certain very rare diseases, will eventually become widespread and lead to the production of designer babies.

I will give a background on where we stand. The Bloc Quebecois has been studying this issue for several years; we have had major discussions and extensive debate to ensure that the bill would protect human beings, and that the use of embryos would stop short of human cloning. At the same time, certain jurisdictions must also be protected.

Now, for our party's position; we have been defending this issue and talking about it amongst ourselves for many years. We also realize that Bill C-13, if adopted, would interfere in Quebec's jurisdiction with respect to health. That is unacceptable to us.

My colleagues from Hochelaga—Maisonneuve and from Drummond have done extraordinary work in the Standing Committee on Health. They tried to move amendments to ensure that Quebec's jurisdictions would be left alone, but, to no avail, since they were all lost.

For us, this is not a religious question, but a question of jurisdiction and the administration of justice. We do not want this bill to change the rules for health in Quebec. Quebec manages its own affairs quite well and we want it to stay that way. We are against this bill.

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10:35 a.m.


John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am like so many in the House on this legislation. There is so much of it that I do support and I want to see it go forward. However there are other aspects of it that about which I am genuinely uneasy.

Part of the problem with legislation like this is it does go to the health committee. As other speakers have noted, there has been quite a full debate in the health committee and many difficult issues have been raised, particularly in the context of embryonic cell research. The problem is however good the debate in committee, the debate does not get into this House.

Every one of us are charged with many other tasks as MPs and it is difficult for us to find the time to look up the Hansards of the deliberations that were carried on in committee on legislation like this, and well we should. Every one of us has a duty to be thoroughly informed on the issues that surround legislation, that is, historic legislation, legislation that heralds the dawn of a new age and that heralds the dawn of a new age that may have many dark aspects.

I find myself inclined toward finding a way in which to use stem cells, non-embryonic stem cells would be preferable. However I also feel that if it is a matter of saving lives, then embryonic stem cells, which would be destroyed anyway, ought to be used in research, always on the assumption that these embryonic stem cells would not be deliberately produced for research, because I would find that absolutely reprehensible.

There is no doubt that there are diseases out there on which the clock is ticking. Parkinson's, for example, is a disease that there is some suggestion could be addressed by stem cell research. If embryonic stem cell research speeds up a solution for Parkinson's, then I would be one who would want to see it happen because it is very close to me. Both in my family and in my community people are suffering from Parkinson's and one's heart goes to them. One wants to help. There are many other diseases to which hope is offered if there is success in stem cell research.

I would make the distinction only that I would support embryonic stem cell research only if there were a reasonable possibility, not probability, a reasonable possibility that embryonic stem cell research could shorten the time to bring cures to the people who are suffering.

Having said that, I take the point of earlier speakers that the bill could have been divided because there are other aspects of the bill, which are not contentious at this point in time at any rate, that we ought to address and address rapidly, and I point to the provisions with respect to cloning.

I can remember when I was in my teenage years being fascinated by the science fiction literature at the time. This would be the 1960s. There was a lot of science fiction literature at that time. The prospect of something like cloning the human being came up in fiction from time to time. I well remember the idea they put forward in fiction, that this would be a way to create people who would never die; that is, create perpetual life.

What they basically would do is take an individual and by cloning they could create indefinite copies of an individual. All they would have to do, in the science fiction of the day, is take that, reproduce its physical body, implant in it the same memories and functions, possibly by a sophisticated computer, and they would get replication of, and I hate to say this, some of my political opponents indefinitely.

Imagine, Mr. Speaker, and I am sorry to take a serious subject and divert for a moment, I look at my friends across the aisle and the prospect of them carrying on for a hundred years or so in their seats, always in opposition, is a prospect that is truly daunting. However I digress.

To be more serious, the reality is the prospect of everlasting life through human cloning is actually a possibility in the age in which we are now. We have already started the process in the cloning of animals and the possibility of cloning human beings and having the computer technology which could actually collect and recreate that human being intellectually, perhaps that technology is to come only in the next 20 or 30 years, is before us now. We have to act now and assert what we feel about mortality.

I do not want to get into religious arguments or religious debates here, but I would argue that there is good reason why men and women were created mortal. It is not something with which I would want to see interfered. This is the type of issue on which the House should express itself.

I would have been in favour of dividing the bill and dealing expeditiously with this type of aspect of the bill. I think a the majority of Canadians who may not be associated with any religion, Canadians who may be very agnostic, would all agree that the prospect of cloning human beings is a frightening prospect and it is something certainly that we should try to prevent for as long as possible.

However let me come back to the embryonic research. I think that is terribly important. I would have hoped that this House could have set aside the time to analyze it fully, to set maybe several days aside where we could have had that debate because it is so vital to clarify and to decide whether we are prepared to set aside all embryonic stem cell research for moral reasons, if you will, and moral reasons are fine. Many Canadians react that way for moral reasons and we have to respect that. However there is this other side of it. No matter how strong one's morals, if lives can be saved, then we need to have that debate and we have to find that balance.

This is what Parliament is all about always in this House is that we have to deal with difficult issues and strike balances. We have had anti-terrorism legislation here just recently which is anathema to the vision that Canadians have of themselves. Yet we were forced, because of the world situation, to bring in measures that were unthinkable 10 years ago or only three years ago. I think this House tried very hard to strike a balance, and as a matter of fact I think we did it better than any other nation, a balance between new security provisions and retaining as best we could the liberties and the privacies that we hold so dear.

The issue on embryonic stem cell research is exactly the same type of thing. The House has to make a decision and it is a very difficult decision. I would have liked to have had more time myself to read everything that was said before the health committee and then come to this House in a debate and hear other members who have done the same thing, not the members of the health committee, other members who have the concerns as were expressed by all members of the health committee and have a real debate here, then come to a conclusion by a vote in this House on this specific question of embryonic stem cell research. Right now, quite frankly, I think I would vote in support of it. However maybe after the debate I would vote against it. I do not know but a lot more debate would have been appropriate.

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10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a very controversial subject across our land. It is probably third only to the recent bills that we have seen go through this place, one on the question of marriage and the other being Bill C-250. There are hundreds of people who have written who are concerned about Bill C-13. They are concerned about the view that this Parliament would reflect on humanity itself, the value of life and the dignity of life if we embark upon some of the measures provided for in this legislation.

Someone has said that this is not an issue of religion or conscience. I would suggest it really is an issue of conscience whether one is religious or not. I was reminded of that remark recently in the United States when we heard of someone who was fined something like $25,000 for destroying an eagle's egg. I am remembering the burrowing owls that we have in Canada and the endangered species legislation that we are looking at where people could be fined for even destroying the habitat or the nesting grounds of species in this country.

Would we punish them for destroying an egg of a bird or the burrow of an owl? Would we punish them for that and say it was sacrilegious to destroy them, or are we being religious for passing laws to protect endangered species? No one accuses us of being religious for doing that. Why would they want to accuse us of being overly religious for passing laws to protect the dignity and the safety of the human race?

Our party supports a number of aspects of the bill. We support the bans on reproductive and therapeutic cloning, the bans on animal and human hybrids, the bans on sex selection and the bans on buying and selling embryos. We recognize that these are the good aspects of the bill. As so often is the case, we get caught between a rock and a hard place when we deal with legislation. So often, there are parts of a bill that are good, as are these points that I have mentioned in this bill, and then there are parts that are weak or bad and cause us to have to violate our conscience to support that part of the legislation.

With regard to cloning, the Canadian Alliance opposes human cloning as we believe it is an affront to human dignity, individuality and rights. We have spoken often and for a long time against human cloning. We have been urging the federal government to take a stand and bring in legislation. It has been over 10 years since the report first came out that we should deal with these kinds of things. The Liberals have put it off and waited. It is my understanding that some companies in Canada announced recently that they were tired of waiting and that they were going to go ahead with some of this research. It is a shame that we have waited this long to deal with these kinds of issues.

The practices that are still allowed in this bill are not acceptable to some of us. The bill does say that the health and well-being of children born through assisted human reproduction must be given a priority. We believe in that and we believe in it very strongly. In fact, the health committee itself in its meetings came up with a ranking of the interests that should be made around this bill.

First of all, it said children born through assisted human reproduction should have priority in the decision making; second, adults participating in that procedure; and third, the researchers and physicians who conduct AHR research. They did not mention it, but I guess fourth would be the society in general that would benefit from anything that came out of this kind of research.

Even though children are mentioned as the ones who are to be considered first when we talk about these procedures, we have a way of saying something and then quickly forgetting what it really means. In the bill, children born through donor insemination or from donor eggs are not given the right to know the identity of their biological parents. How can we say that we are considering the needs of the children first when we refuse to even allow them to find out the identify of their biological parents?

In this day and age we know there are many cases where it is very valuable information medically to have a knowledge of who one's parents really are, where they came from, what were the diseases they had, what were their traits and characteristics. We do not allow for that in the bill.

The bill does not provide an acknowledgement of human dignity or respect for human life. The government makes some statements that are sort of related but it refuses to make a statement about the dignity or the sanctity of human life. The bill is intimately connected with the creation of human life, human life that will in its end be used strictly for research.

The minority report recommended that the final legislation would recognize the human embryo as human life and that the statutory declaration include the phrase “respect for human life”. I heard already this morning in this debate that the human embryo is not human life. Is it life at all? I think it can be proven scientifically that it is life. The cells are already beginning divide. It is growing and only living things grow. Certainly we must know that it is human. It is not another kind of animal. It is not a plant. It is not a vegetable. It is in fact a human life.

The bill also allows for experiments using human embryos under four conditions. Only in vitro embryos left over can be used. Written permission must be given by the donor. It does not say donors, it just says donor. We believe that every human embryo by scientific evidence would have to have two donors and not just one. There should be the recognition of both donors in this case and that both donors should give permission and not just one. The bill also allows for research on human embryos if the use is necessary. Necessary is undefined. In vitro fertilization requires the creation of human embryos and the bill says it is only as many as are necessary, but when the end comes, when the implantation is made I think we will find that many embryos have been destroyed that were not necessary and unused only to speed up the process. We are in such a hurry to see things happen. We cannot wait to see one or two eggs fertilized at a time so that a couple can bear children.

Sometimes we forget that Bill C-13 would allow the creation of embryos for reproductive research. Canadian law will now legitimize the view that human life can be created solely for the benefit of others and sacrificed in the name of research.

I come back to the fact that the human embryo is life. Whether it is a senior adult, a young adult, a child, a baby, a fetus or an embryo, I must conclude that it is human life.

I will close by quoting Suzanne Scorsone, a former member of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, who said “The human embryo is a human individual with a complete personal genome, and should be a subject of research only for its own benefit”. She also said that many people hold to the idea that to destroy the embryo or utilize it as industrial raw material is damaging and dehumanizing not only to that embryo but to all of human society.

I maintain that that is the right position.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

York South—Weston Ontario


Alan Tonks LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the bill. Initially when the bill was considered, the concern was raised with respect to the ethics of destroying human embryos to harvest stem cells for research. The issues have broadened somewhat from that initial concern and I would like to outline a few that members of the House have mentioned before but which I think are very important to put on the record again.

Despite the fact that Health Canada has already corrected one error in the definition of human clone, the bill still does not ban all known forms and techniques of human cloning. This is probably the essence of many of the ethical concerns that members from all sides of the House have talked about. There were numerous discussions at committee. Non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups and people from the scientific and health communities all expressed concern with respect to this shortcoming in the bill.

The bill permits the implanting of human reproductive material into non-human life forms. The biomedical definition of chimera involves the implantation of reproductive material from a human into an animal, or from an animal into a human. However, the definition in the bill only refers to the latter.

These are two fundamental aspects that I think members of the House are concerned about. On behalf of those on all sides, I want to put on the record that the bill is short with respect to those. Hopefully, it could be expanded upon at some future time.

World Teachers' DayStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, to teach is to open doors to a better world; in French, enseigner ouvre les portes vers un monde meilleur. This is the theme chosen for this year's World Teachers' Day on October 5.

Without teachers, education would not be what it is meant to be. Teachers transmit information, but teachers do so much more. Teachers inspire. Teachers guide students in developing values that are essential to peace, tolerance, respect and understanding. Teachers assist in developing essential life and social skills, trust, confidence, critical thinking and self-esteem. Teachers can be catalysts for creative, productive, successful lives.

Let us remember with thanks on October 5 and throughout the year the magnificent contribution of teachers everywhere. Let us celebrate together la Journée mondiale des enseignants, World Teachers' Day.

Citizenship and ImmigrationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is bungling yet another registry. It seriously underestimated the task. Many landed immigrants are unaware of new requirements that they must have a permanent resident card to re-enter Canada after December 31.

Meanwhile, I have constituents who applied this spring and who have not yet received their card. I say good luck in applying now.

People are booking winter holidays with departure in December and return in January. Others will need to travel for family emergencies. They will not be eligible to return and many do not know it. They will have to find an embassy to obtain an entry visa, which could be a tall order.

Those who have applied cannot determine the status of their application. MPs' offices are in the same boat, as e-mails go unanswered and the telephone is essentially non-functional. This needs to be fixed today.

Yom KippurStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday around the world Jews will celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This day of contemplation and reflection is the most important day of the Jewish calendar.

Starting this Sunday night, until sundown on Monday night, Jews around the world will fast and reflect on this year's past actions and ask forgiveness for their failings.

Some also use this day to commemorate the devastating events of Kristallnacht, which occurred on the evening of November 9, 1938, the evening of Yom Kippur, when anti-Jewish riots swept through Germany and Austria, destroying many Jewish businesses and synagogues.

On this day of prayer, on behalf of my colleagues in the House, I wish all Canadians of Jewish faith an easy fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur.

Marathon VictoryStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to rise in tribute to a remarkable 93 year old marathon runner named Fauja Singh.

A retired farmer originally from the province of Punjab in India, he became the first person in the world in his age class to break the six hour barrier at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on September 28. He had a time of five hours, forty minutes and four seconds.

When he was young, he ran cross-country in his native India. Then, at age 36, he retired from running. A lifetime later, with four children, thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, he returned to his first love: running marathons.

This man's latest achievement in Toronto stands as a source of inspiration for people across Canada and around the globe. I would therefore urge all my colleagues to join me in wishing him continued success.

National Capital CommissionStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with pleasure that I participated yesterday in making an important announcement concerning my riding of Hull-Aylmer, in conjunction with the National Capital Commission.

The NCC concluded an agreement with Weston Inc. to acquire property on the north shore of the Ottawa River, which is currently home to Scott Paper operations. The NCC considers this site as a part of its long-term strategy for the core area of Canada's capital region. I have reason to believe that jobs will be preserved for at least 25 years and hope that Scott Paper will be able to relocate within the Outaouais region.

Our society is evolving and, over the next 25 years, the use of the riverfront where the Scott Paper plant is located will be changing. These industrial lands will be transformed to give all Canadians unique access to this site with its rich history and remarkable beauty.

Thank you to Weston Inc., to the NCC and its chairman, and to the Government of Canada.

Arts and CultureStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, last month in Los Angeles, Charles Porlier of Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, in my riding, was presented with an Emmy award for outstanding makeup on the TNT made for television movie Door to Door .

Charles received a second Emmy nomination for his work in the Spielberg DreamWorks mini-series Taken , as well as two nominations for the Canadian Network of Makeup awards to be held in Toronto next month.

He earned his first Emmy in 1996 for the TNT production of Kissinger and Nixon . His box office credits include key makeup effects artist on X-Men 2 and The Santa Clause 2 .

With over 25 years of experience as a makeup artist, Charles is also head of makeup design at the Vancouver Film School. He said recently that the 1960s television series Planet of the Apes sparked his interest in pursuing makeup artistry.

On behalf of the citizens of Dewdney--Alouette and all members of the House, I would like to wish Charles Porlier good luck in Toronto next month and congratulate him on his outstanding achievement at the Emmys.

Canadian Women's Soccer TeamStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, having played at lot of soccer in my youth, it was with great interest that I followed the amazing development of international women's soccer as well as its characteristic enthusiasm and fair play, which are truly an inspiration.

Last night, the Canadian women's soccer team won a historic victory against China. This is the first time our national team has made it to the semi-final of the World Cup.

It is truly an amazing feat for our young Canadian women to have reached a level of achievement so close to the summit of women's international soccer.

Canada will be playing Sweden in the semi-final on Sunday. I am sure all members of the House will join with me in wishing our Cinderella team Godspeed and the continuation of their inspiring international adventure. Go, Canada, go.