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House of Commons Hansard #134 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was heritage.

Topics

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-13 is extremely important because we have already had this debate when it appeared as Bill C-56. My colleague, the hon. member for Drummond, was a visionary and had in the mid-1990s suggested that parliamentarians should consider such legislation. She introduced a private member's bill that sought to prohibit human cloning for reproductive and therapeutic purposes.

I am extremely saddened—I do not know if it shows; I remain calm at all times—by what is happening here today. When we left for our ridings in June, I asked the Minister of Health to ensure that the Bloc Quebecois could support this legislation. We are not being politically correct with regard to this legislation. We are not debating abortion in terms of pro-life or pro-choice. This is not what we are doing; we will have other opportunities to do so.

We agree that the Criminal Code which is a federal responsibility must contain provisions prohibiting various practices on humans that, for ethical reasons and humanist reasons are unacceptable. We are talking about cloning, transgenesis, gender selection and the possibility of playing with prenatal diagnoses, in short, any and all considerations that we agree need to be federally legislated.

The problem is that this legislation contains a proposal to establish a regulatory agency responsible for implementing any regulations. This regulatory agency and the regulations, established under Bill C-13, would be incompatible with about a dozen provincial laws.

We must not forget the starting point, which is that one out of five couples in Canada experiences some degree of infertility. This is the premise. Obviously, some people, like Louise Vandelac, a UQAM researcher, say that this legislation should focus more on preventing endocrine disruptors in the environment, which cause infertility in humans.

If we look at the bottom line, we can see that the problem with the future regulatory agency is that it will not take into account a number of laws duly passed by the Quebec National Assembly.

If Bill C-13 is passed, it should be divided into two bills. In fact, upon our return in January, with its usual the sense of responsibility, the Bloc Quebecois asked for that specifically. All my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois would have been only too happy to vote in favour of a bill focussing exclusively on prohibited activities. I am sure that our colleagues from the Canadian Alliance, the NDP and the Progressive Conservative Party would have too.

This bill would have the federal government regulate the provision of services in private clinics and hospitals. Under section 112 of the Quebec Act respecting health services and social services, the Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services is responsible for determining which facilities will provide artificial insemination services and other forms of medically assisted reproduction services.

So, if the bill, and subsequently the related regulations, were passed, this would mean that the federal government could then override the right of the Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services and the National Assembly to establish the conditions under which health professionals will provide medically assisted reproduction services.

Bill C-13 is incompatible with the Quebec Civil Code, the act respecting health services and social services, the act respecting the protection of personal information, the act respecting medical laboratories, the charter of human rights and freedoms, the medical code of ethics, the guidelines of the Quebec health research fund, and the ministerial action plan for research ethics and scientific integrity.

On Saturday morning, I met with the Fédération québécoise de planification des naissances. This Quebec group knows Bill C-13 well, and has been interested in issues having to do with planned parenthood for many years. The political attaché to Mr. Couillard, Quebec's health and social services minister, was also present.

We seemed to be reading the bill the same way. I know that the Government of Quebec has not yet announced its final position on this issue. It will do that soon. But the Government of Quebec—which is not a sovereignist government, we know—was very worried about the precedent that might be created.

I explained matters to the researchers, the feminist groups and the federation. There are groups in Quebec who have been waiting for such a bill for 15 years. One of the people at the meeting was Louise Vandelac, a researcher who had worked with the Baird Commission. She withdrew from that commission, as did the wife of the hon. member for Calgary Centre. We know that these people went as far as the Federal Court to protest some of the activities of the Baird commission.

And yet, the political attaché to the minister of health and social services was aware, as are the members from Quebec—those from the Bloc Quebecois anyway, but perhaps not the Liberal members from Quebec—that if this bill is adopted, we will be creating a precedent allowing a regulatory agency to intervene directly in establishing and regulating services provided in hospitals and private clinics.

If, as Bloc Quebecois members, we pass Bill C-13, since we do acknowledge the need for legislation on banned practices—so much so that the member for Drummond introduced a bill on it as far back as 1995— this means the federal government is going to conclude that it has leeway to get involved in early child education and palliative care. It will take advantage of this precedent, unfortunately, to interfere in health and social services, beyond the limits of its jurisdiction.

We have worked very hard on this issue. There is nothing partisan about it. People with fertility problems who want to have a child go through a lot of turmoil. We have received all kinds of testimonials, and I could talk about them for hours. So I asked the federal health minister: “Why did the federal government not split the bill?” I went on to say “If you are convinced you are not ultra petita , not outside your area of jurisdiction, why do you not table a letter from the Quebec minister of health, and one signed by yourself as federal health minister, acknowledging that, regardless of what agency, and what regulations are adopted by the Government of Quebec, this will be the law applicable to Quebec.

Equivalency will be acknowledged right from the start. It is possible that there could be an equivalency agreement in the bill. This must, however, be evaluated by federal officials, and what guarantee do we have that everything done by the Government of Quebec, which had provisions in its civil code as far back as 1994, will be acknowledged?. What guarantee do we have that any agency and legislation created subsequently by the National Assembly will be recognized?

I say again to the minister, if we get that letter, that guarantee, we will vote in favour of this bill at third reading. If we do not, however, believe me, we will not keep quiet and allow jurisdictions to be trampled over in this way.

Given the urgency of the situation and the fact that I, as a Bloc member, have followed this issue from the start in the Standing Committee on Health, could you, Mr. Speaker, find out whether, in the spirit of camaraderie that ought to exist in this Chamber, and given the importance of the issue, I might not have an additional 15 minutes to complete my speech? I would see that as a sign of true camaraderie.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent from the House to allow the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve an additional 15 minutes?

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Since there is no unanimous consent, the debate shall continue.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Order.

The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I was among those who said no because I wanted to be sure to have enough time to speak.

I want to address Bill C-13, or reproductive technologies. This is the first time I have spoken on this issue. I have listened to, either in the House or while watching the debates live on television, or I have read the transcripts of just about everyone who has spoken to the issue in this House. I find that there has been a lot of misinformation that has been given about what Bill C-13 would do and what it would not do. I would like to just give a few pieces of information.

There are those who claim that Bill C-13 would not ban human cloning. This is incorrect. The legislation indeed would ban human cloning. The member for Mississauga South, who put forward a motion at report stage which was adopted, stated, when he spoke in support of his motion, that it would extend the prohibition of human cloning to include all types of human cloning. The House listened and adopted the motion that was put forward by the member and the legislation would ban all forms of human cloning.

In fact, Dr. Patricia Baird, the former head of the royal commission has stated, “Based on an incorrect understanding of the science, some have suggested that the bill doesn't ban cloning, but in fact on careful reading it clearly does”. Those are her words not mine.

She was quoted as saying that, in the Ottawa Citizen on March 27.

The issue as to whether or not the bill would permit the implanting of human reproductive materials into non-human life forms as well has been raised. It has been suggested in this House by numerous of my colleagues that the biomedical definition of chimera involves the implantation of reproductive materials from a human into an animal or from an animal into a human and that Bill C-13 would permit the implanting of human reproductive material into non-human life forms.

As is the case with any piece of legislation, a definition must be read within the context of the scope of that legislation. The scope of Bill C-13 is the human embryo and as such, the definition of chimera would be limited to those combinations that involve a human embryo. The definition used in Bill C-13 is scientifically accurate and has been reviewed and stated to be scientifically accurate by some of Canada's leading researchers.

Another claim that has been made in this House by members who oppose Bill C-13 is that there are less than 10 embryos available in Canada that would meet research quality requirements and that the number of surplus embryos is not expected to increase since medical technology has improved. Comparatively they claim, the U.K. has destroyed 40,000 human embryos without any positive research results. Those claims are incorrect.

In fact the number of embryos available for research purposes in Canada and their potential quality are unknown. Why are they unknown? Because the fertility clinics and the human reproductive technologies are not regulated at this time. Therefore, the government and from one clinic to another have no way of knowing how many embryos there are or the quality of the state or condition in which they are. We have no way of knowing.

The regulatory regime which would be established under Bill C-13 would lead to an accurate understanding of the number of embryos in storage and the number of embryos potentially available for research, and would control the type of research projects that could be undertaken.

Concerning the 40,000 human embryos that U.K. supposedly has destroyed without any positive research results, I cannot state how many embryos have been destroyed in the U.K. What I can say is the U.K. is one of the world leaders in the area embryonic research and significant advances in reproductive medicine has been made available by its research. In fact in vitro fertilization was first successfully carried in the U.K. in 1978. As of August 2002, there were 28 licensed projects in the U.K. involving the in vitro embryo, the majority of them focusing on improving infertility treatments.

For example, in the U.K. as we speak projects are underway to improve the maturation of embryos in vitro, to increase implantation rates as well as studies into improving egg freezing techniques. I believe that the claim that there have been no positive research results is inaccurate.

Another claim that has been made in the House by some members to justify their opposition to Bill C-13 is that the conflict of interest provisions are so weak they would allow biotech and pharmaceutical companies to be represented on the board of the agency that would approve and license research projects.

I would encourage those members to go back and read Bill C-13. The government's amendment to Bill C-13, which now constitutes paragraph 26(9), sets solid requirements for all prospective and serving members of the board. No board member may hold a licence or be an applicant for a licence or be a director, officer, shareholder or partner of a licensee or applicant for a licence. These requirements could not be more stringent or more appropriate.

It is however not the intention of Bill C-13 to exclude people from the board who have relevant experience, such as doctors, scientists, nurses, ethicists, counsellors et cetera. If we were to exclude these people we would be undermining the credibility of the board.

Paragraph 26(9) sets out solid conflict of interest requirements and the conflict of interest provision is in addition to the stringent conflict of interest and post-employment code principles, already binding all governor in council appointees.

Another claim that has been made in the House by opponents to Bill C-13 is that significant clauses of the bill have been qualified by phrases such as “per the regulations” and therefore members of the House who oppose Bill C-13 are saying that MPs are being asked to vote on a bill without knowing the full intent and that they will not be permitted to approve regulations.

First, all members of Parliament have oversight capacity over regulations. In addition, the House in conjunction with the other house, has a Joint Standing Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations that only scrutinizes regulations. However that does not preclude any standing committee of the House to scrutinize regulations.

Second, the act provides for parliamentary oversight of the regulations that would occur at the time of Canada Gazette Part I . It also calls for a review by Parliament after three years which would allow MPs to review again the appropriateness of the bill's provisions and associate regulations.

Finally, I can obviously not go through everything but I want to point out one thing. Bill C-13 prohibits commercial surrogacy on the grounds that it treats children as objects. It also treats the reproductive capacity of women and reproduction in general as economic activities.

Subclause 12(3) introduced at report stage and adopted by the majority of members of Parliament provides for the reimbursement of lost income for a surrogate mother which in no way contradicts the non-commercialization scheme. A surrogate mother may only be compensated for loss of income during pregnancy if she has a medical certificate stating that continuing to work may pose a risk to her health or to that of the developing fetus. It already exists in workmen's compensation in Quebec.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, following the debate in the House is one thing, but it has also been interesting to follow the debate in the news.

Over the weekend I happened to notice that one of the members, who is not noted for his religious outbursts or anything to do with his faith, was questioned about the fact that because he was opposed to Bill C-13, he must be a member of the so-called God squad. He said that he was not a member of the God squad but that he was opposed and he listed the reasons why.

Where did this almost blasphemous term, the God squad, come from? It comes about as a result of the fact that there are people in the House who have a strong sense of their faith, their identity in terms of their relationship with a Supreme Being. Therefore, I would claim the privilege of being a member of the God squad.

The God squad is a group of people, if indeed it exists, who say there is an absolute standard in this world. There is an absolute standard of how I relate to my family and to people in my community. There is an absolute standard with which I came into politics and I did not check that absolute standard at the door when I walked in here. That, very simply, is a part of the problem, a part of the cynicism that seems to be developing around the bill.

We are concerned about the bill, not just because of what is contained in the bill but because of the way in which the Liberal government has conducted itself and is continuing to conduct itself outside of this chamber, not only in Canada, but outside of our great nation, in the world.

The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine who just spoke made the point that in her vision, although people in the House have said there is not a ban on human cloning, there was a ban on human cloning contained in Bill C-13. Let us leave that for scholars and lawyers to decide. However at the same time, the Liberal government is attempting to ram the bill through the House of Commons, it is taking quite a significantly different position at the United Nations.

An international convention to ban human cloning is being debated at the United Nations. One resolution, backed by the U.S. and several countries, calls for a comprehensive ban on all human cloning, reproductive and therapeutic. That would be consistent with Bill C-13, which would prohibit the creation of a human clone by any technique. However there is another resolution currently before the UN which calls only for a ban on reproductive cloning. Strangely, Canada is supporting this resolution.

I and the Canadian Alliance oppose human cloning as an affront to human dignity, individuality and rights. We have repeatedly spoken out against human cloning, urging the federal government to bring in legislation to stave off the potential threat of cloning research in Canada. Therefore, we find it suspicious that Canada's position at the UN suggests our government may have a hidden agenda in the support of therapeutic cloning. Why the double standard? Why the one standard when the government is attempting to get the bill through the chamber, and the other standard at the United Nations where it is in support of therapeutic cloning? Understandably, we are suspicious.

There is nothing more precious in this world than human life. It is the very breath that we breathe. It is the way that we manage to interact with each other. It is not an overstatement obviously to say that without life there is nothing. When it comes to a bill of this magnitude, to try to enact legislation of this type in a vacuum of ethics, morality and, I suggest, of religious standards is folly of the first order.

It has been interesting that as this bill has been before the House and before us as members of Parliament, it has perhaps made me even more aware of some of the standards that are held within our civilized societies. I notice that on soap operas coming to us from France, Australia and England, or even on our own soap operas, there is always conflict between people. That is what makes a soap opera. There is always back-stabbing between people, but the minute that one person's life is threatened, suddenly the plot thickens and that becomes the key issue.

Indeed, the reality is that without life there is nothing. Therefore, our concern about this bill is in part what is in the bill, the imperfections that are in the bill, but of equal or perhaps even greater importance, our concern, my concern, is what the ultimate objective is of the government and where it is going.

I started by talking about the almost blasphemous term the God squad. When I make these statements, I am thinking not just in terms of the most dominant faith in Canada, which at this point is Christianity, I am also thinking of the Muslims. I am thinking of the Sikhs. I am thinking of the Hindus. I am thinking of people who follow the teachings of Confucius, the Buddhists. I am thinking of all people of faith who have an absolute standard that is a reality in their lives, because for many Canadians, countless millions of Canadians, they have within their lives, at their very soul, at their very core, a belief in human life.

It defies logic to understand why the government would not have split this bill into the two obvious parts.

There are many procedures currently in place in Canada whereby human life is enhanced, that through adult stem cell research. We know of many advancements in being able to do away with or at least slow the spread of Parkinson's. We know of many advancements where there has been the removal of stem cells from an individual and those stem cells have been treated and put back into the same individual, so that there is absolutely no need for all the drugs that are necessary when a foreign body is put into a human being.

One of the most exciting parts of being alive and being a human being is the ability to be able to think, to conceive ideas, to be able to bring science to many of the tragic situations that face human beings in terms of their health. This bill, in terms of adult stem cell research, is going in the correct direction. What I am concerned about, and what many are concerned about, is the absolute lack of sensitivity, the absolute lack of understanding, when it comes to stem cell research other than adult stem cell research.

The distinctive of a civilized society is the respect of human life. That is why we find it so confusing within all of our civilized societies throughout the world when we are confronted with people who will not only take their own lives but in so doing will end up becoming suicide bombers and taking other people's lives. This is a value that is at the core of who we are in a civilized society.

This bill as it presently stands is wrong and we will do everything we can do to see that it is defeated.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must admit some temerity in wading into this debate given that this is a fairly complex issue, which a committee has studied for a great deal of time.

Around here one likes to focus on the issues that are of greatest concern to Canadians and focus on those issues exclusively. This is an issue that in fact has attracted the attention of many Canadians, but in some respects this is an intensely difficult debate.

One of the issues that has been raised is the concern that Health Canada corrected one error in the definition of human clone but still does not ban all known forms and techniques of human cloning. I do not know how many times I have heard it repeated here in this chamber and elsewhere that the bill in fact bans human cloning, and I am prepared to believe the drafters of this legislation who think that this in fact is true. Let us get down to the bill's definition of human clone:

“human clone” means an embryo that, as a result of the manipulation of human reproductive material or an in vitro embryo, contains a diploid set of chromosomes obtained from a single--living or deceased--human being, fetus or embryo.

The issue here is “single”. It is well within the realm of current science to deal with that issue of single; in fact, human clones could be created from more than one. So it seems on the face of it a relatively minor issue, but on the other hand, for those who wish to defeat the intention and the spirit of the bill, minor amendments on single would in fact have addressed this issue. It is somewhat disappointing that we are not dealing with this.

The second issue that arises is with respect to the biomedical definition of chimera, which involves the implantation of reproductive material from a human into an animal or from an animal into a human. But in the definition section of the bill, it seems to only go one way. In the bill, chimera means:

(a) an embryo into which a cell of any non-human life form has been introduced;--

It is only going from human into non-human when in fact it could be the reverse if a cell is taken from an animal and introduced into a human. Why is that definition of chimera not included in the bill? If life is produced, whatever that life may be with the mix of animal and human, what is that life? What will that life mean to us as Canadians and as a society? That is more than just mildly troubling and again one is hard pressed to know why that issue has not been addressed.

Some have claimed that there are less than 10 embryos available in Canada that would meet research quality requirements. The number of surplus embryos is not expected to increase since medical technology has improved. I suppose the issue then is, what is the big fuss about?

Comparatively, the United Kingdom has destroyed something in the order of 40,000 human embryos without any positive research result. I suppose that at one level this should not be disturbing, but on another level it does seem to be a casual regard for the sanctity of human life, which I think has been a theme that has certainly emanated through my office as people concern themselves with the bill. They are not quite clear in their minds about what is wrong, but they are clear that something is wrong.

Then, the conflict of interest provisions in the bill are somewhat weak. If ever there was an area where we should be concerned about conflict of interest between what biotechnical and pharmaceutical companies can do, this is one area, but they are to be represented on the board of the agency. I must be candid here. I am really of two minds. Obviously we want to hear from the leading biotech firms and the pharmaceutical companies, but the funding of research by these companies, their presence on the board and their engagement in the licensing process create an obvious conflict of interest because quite clearly the industry has a unique interest in this concern.

I think we can remember that recently Dr. Nancy Olivieri was doing some research that did not line up with the sponsor's hope for the research. I am simplifying this somewhat, but her research was leading her away from the efficacy and direction that the pharmaceutical company wanted her to go in. It wanted the pill or the medicine it was producing to go in a certain direction and she got into a huge ethical storm as to, in effect, who was paying for the research. If the research was being paid for by a particular company, then it wanted a particular result.

This will inevitably be worked into the decisions to approve and license research projects which may arise by virtue of the fact that these companies will be represented quite well on the board. The checks and balances one would like to see come out of that obvious ethical dilemma do not appear to be in the bill.

The other area that has arisen has to do with the reference over the course of the bill to “as per the regulations”. I heard a previous member say that we do have a scrutiny committee. It is a joint committee and it does do good work, but the problem is that the horse is somewhat out of the barn by the time the scrutiny committee might get to it as per the regulations. There are apparently 28 areas in which regulations must be developed and they will not be known for at least 18 months until after the bill is passed, so we are being asked to enter into something of a blind vote.

Again, at one level, I have some sympathy on that point. A lot of these regulations are, at this stage of science and law, unknowable, but on the other hand this is an enormously significant area of intrusion into human life. Yet we in the chamber will on 28 separate instances be asked simply, “Trust us”.

We had this issue as well in the terrorism debate a few years ago. We worked in a sunset clause and we worked in some review clauses and things of that nature. We are told that the bill actually has not actually been used up to now; possibly that is a good result. I would like to think it is. On the other hand, it does put MPs in a very awkward position of saying that we will hold our noses and vote for this, but we really do not know what we are voting on because in at least 28 areas we are not going to know what the regulations are until at least 18 months after the bill passes. Again, these are the kinds of things that make MPs concerned.

Yet on the other hand we have an overall issue where we ask the question: If we do not get this, do we get anything at all, and do we want to leave the field entirely unregulated? We have a significant constituency saying this bill is seriously flawed, but it is substantially better than nothing at all. It is a bit of a shame that some of the committee recommendations have not found their way into the amendments and regulations so that members could have somewhat more comfort that their colleagues have exhausted the protections that should be available in the bill.

This is not a bill that one would vote for with any great enthusiasm. On the other hand, it is certainly a heck of an improvement over the current situation.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, in looking at this legislation we are coming up against a number of legislative roadblocks that we encounter when we deal with legislation from the government. We hear concerns from the public and then we propose and find ways because of suggestions from the public on how to get around these roadblocks. However the government seems to ignore them.

We cannot play politics on something as important as cloning and embryonic and non-embryonic stem cell research. We must stick with the principles and look at the possibilities in order to address the possible roadblocks.

Clearly, something must be done in this whole area of reproductive technologies because it is advancing so rapidly upon us. It is somewhat pleasing to see that we do have members of Parliament from all sides of the House who are in agreement on ways to get around some of the dilemmas, not the least of which are the moral dilemmas.

We propose through our health critic, the member for Yellowhead, a way to take some legislative suggestions and break them into two areas or two bills, and look at addressing each of the two areas in a way in which we can make progress. We are talking about making progress, on behalf of Canadians with health needs, that has the potential of being met because of some of the exciting dimensions that are available to us in this area of technology. It can be done in a way that averts some of the technological dilemmas but moral dilemmas as well.

Our member for Yellowhead proposed that a bill come forward that is broken into two areas, one in which reproductive technologies could be covered as in the former Bill C-56 that members will recall, and another in which we would regulate the human embryo research and all of the implications with that.

A reproductive technology bill could cover such compelling issues as the prohibition on cloning which is very important. A number of countries have put a ban on cloning. What are we going to do about commercial surrogacy? What are we going to do about the question of the buying and selling of human gametes? What are we going to do about gender selection, germ line alteration and the creation of animal-human hybrids? What about the regulation of fertility clinics and the creation of a regulatory agency to observe all of these? That could all be dealt with under one bill and then a separate bill could look at regulating human embryo research.

I want to use an example of how, with discussion in this House and obviously drawing upon the incredible medical technology resource people that Canada has to offer, we put forward some suggestions. And it was important to do so. The issue of cloning, especially when it is being advanced for the purpose of meeting the health needs of people who are afflicted many times with disease, presents that very moral dilemma, as does the issue of stem cell research.

Many Canadians, myself included, believe it is simply wrong to create life for the purpose of destroying it because some part of that newly created life will go to help what might even be someone's significant health care problem.

There is a way of avoiding the whole dilemma and still getting the benefits of what this technology has to offer. The government must be clear and say that it will not proceed with and will not allow things to progress in the area of embryonic stem cell research. That is the type of research which would require the growing of embryos for the purpose of destroying them and rationalizing that it was for future health needs.

Many members, including myself, and millions of Canadians believe it is simply wrong to create life for the purpose of destroying it. How does one avoid that? The area of non-embryonic stem cell research is already making great gains.

As Canadians we are proud to see some of the breakthroughs that have been made in that particular area. In June 2003 Canadian scientists discovered that non-embryonic stem cells can trigger regeneration of severely damaged organs in animals. In this case, Canadian scientists injected bone marrow stem cells into diabetic mice which were cured or back to normal within 7 to 14 days.

We see that this can hold out great possibilities in terms of human health. We have other situations. Recently, Dr. Michael Rudnicki at the Ottawa Health Research Institute published a groundbreaking study showing how a population of adult stem cells or non-embryonic stem cells in muscle tissue contributed to muscle regeneration.

We have seen in the prestigious scientific journal called Cell that uncovered molecular signals that direct these non-embryonic stem cells could actually direct these cells to form new muscle.

We had a situation in September 2002 where a Montreal woman who was newly diagnosed with leukemia received a stem cell transplant from the umbilical cord of her new infant daughter. These are non-embryonic stem cells and seven months after the transplant, the woman was in full remission and considered cured.

Instructive on this particular point are the comments from Dr. Abdullah Daar of the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics. He said:

Should adult stem cells ever prove to be as good as [embryonic] cells, then why would anybody want to bother with embryonic stem cells?

These are the questions being put by the very leaders in technology in the field itself. Alan Bernstein who is president of the CIHR said:

Aside from the ethical issues, if one could take one's own adult... stem cells from bone marrow and use them to cure Parkinson's disease, you wouldn't have to worry about [immune] rejection problems. So this would be just a huge advance.

Immune rejection problems are very significant when it comes to dealing with and the exploration of treatment of embryonic stem cells.

Science itself is offering a way out of this cul-de-sac of debate, this moral dilemma in which the government continues to circle. Simply approve and move ahead with the area of non-embryonic stem cell research and regulate out the possibility of embryonic stem cell research.

When we look at Bill C-13, the government seems to be saying one thing in the House but says something totally different at the United Nations. We have a concern with that. The former minister of health stated in Geneva at meetings of the World Health Organization that “cloning for the replication of human individuals is ethically unacceptable and contrary to human dignity and integrity”.

He was condemning cloning. We happen to agree with that. But representatives of the government say different things at the United Nations when they discuss this and it is not reflective of what the government is saying to Canadians.

The bill also allows for “grandfathering”, if I can use that term in this debate, allowing scientists, who engage in such activity before the bill takes effect, to avoid licensing requirements and prosecution provisions? As a government, it cannot say it is opposed to something and in fact condemn something, as the former minister of health said, and then allow for it to happen. These contradictions cause us great concern.

We would like to see consistency on behalf of the government as if relates to Bill C-13. We would like to see if the former minister's statement is in fact the position of the government--“that it is ethically unacceptable and contrary to human dignity and integrity” to allow cloning to happen. Members of our party and I happen to agree with that as do many members of Parliament.

The government should bring forward the consistency of that statement into this legislation and into the regulatory process that follows. We should not allow for the door to be opened so that a violation of that clear principle of preservation of life can happen. If the government is serious about it, it should state it clearly and bring forward legislation that is consistent, and inform our delegates at the United Nations to speak in a like manner as well.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that Bill C-13 has engendered a lot of thoughtful debate in the House and a lot of careful consideration regardless on which side of the issue one ends up coming down on.

The bill has probably exposed some of the elements that could be improved. My colleague from Mississauga South has looked at it very closely and done a tremendous amount of work. He should be commended for his efforts.

The question of human cloning is one of the fundamental underlying concerns in the bill. His concern is that the bill does not ban all known forms of human cloning. That in itself presents something of a dilemma because as medicine progresses and the practice of medicine evolves over years and generations, what is unknown now will probably be known 20, 30 or 50 years hence.

I will repeat a story involving a fairly close relative of mine who was attending university in Toronto and was rooming with another young man. They were both studying medicine at the time. At that time two very prominent doctors were researching diabetes and how this scourge could be treated. One was Dr. Macleod and the other Dr. Banting.

My cousin and his friend were both looking for summer jobs. They decided that they would try and obtain work with these researchers. They flipped a coin and my cousin went to work with Dr. Macleod and Charlie Best went with Dr. Banting. At that time no one knew and no one had a breakthrough on how to deal with the scourge of diabetes. I am sure debate raged about what one should do and should not do in terms of research and in terms of developing the techniques that would look after that disease.

A part of Bill C-13 addresses not just human cloning, but the question of developing a fetus in the very early stages. In the process of human reproduction there are sometimes leftovers that are not used. The argument that has been put forward by researchers and so on is that it would be appropriate and practical to use these things in their research. The people who are opposed have taken the position that these are undeveloped human embryos and, therefore, should not be tampered with.

My colleague from Mississauga South has pointed out that the United Kingdom at one point destroyed about 40,000 human embryos without any positive research results. I am wondering, when we are considering the use of embryos, whether we should simply say that there are not enough of them that appear at any given time to do positive research on, or whether we should press ahead into the unknown. The other side of the argument has to do with the potential that stem cell research has to cure disease.

I very often think of my late mother who succumbed to Parkinson's disease. I wonder, if it was 15 or 20 years hence whether the stem cell research would not be able to provide something to arrest, cure or prevent the progress of Parkinson's disease. However the decisions are made, we should not close the door on any of these things.

I am totally opposed to human cloning. That is a given. I think virtually everyone in this chamber regardless of their party affiliation would share that point of view.

I ask that we proceed with great care on the bill so as not to inhibit medical advancement in the future. Let us look at the bill, let us look at its weaknesses and flaws. If the bill can be improved, it is our responsibility to improve it. Whatever we do, whatever conclusions we come to however, we should not inhibit human progress in this regard.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Canadian Alliance Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today on Bill C-13.

It has been interesting to follow some of the headlines as they appear on the debate on this issue.

There is no question that politics are being played out here when it comes Bill C-13. We can see it bounce back and forth not just between the opposition and government parties but between members within the government party and also between members within the opposition parties in the House.

There was one particular headline in a newspaper a few days ago which read “Vote on human cloning bill delayed: Bill C-13 'God squad' MP stages filibuster, debate stalls”. That is a very interesting headline. Obviously a member of the Liberal Party is considered to be part of what is called the God squad, or so it has been tagged. All of those who are opposing the proposed legislation might be tagged the same. I do not find that so unsettling. In fact, I would be proud to wear that as a badge if that applied to me by taking that position.

There have been other very strong members of Parliament. I will talk about one by the name of William Wilberforce in the great country of England in the United Kingdom. He was actually tagged the same way. He was a Christian MP who stood up against slavery. For years he fought that fight again wanting to better the lot of those who were enslaved in that country. As a result of his efforts, he and four or five other MPs were categorized as such. Because they believed in God, because they felt that there should be a stronger commitment on the part of legislators to better the position of others in society, they were tagged as such by their colleagues, the media and the opposition. They stood for something that would allow others to live in a better way and that is the tag that was placed on them.

For decades Mr. Wilberforce fought that egregious legislation to change it, to ban slavery completely and it spread throughout the free world.

Here we have another kind of legislation. It is an intrusion into human life. A whole series of unknowns are attached to this particular endeavour, that is human cloning. The House has faced the issue now for a period of time. Its intention is to set the ground rules for cloning, embryonic research and reproductive technologies. That is the bill. There are a lot of unknowns in it and it deals with human life.

The bill bans all human cloning, both reproductive, which would allow a cloned embryo to be implanted in a woman's womb and grown to a full person; and therapeutic, which would allow a cloned embryo to be used for research and medical purposes. That is the bill that is being advanced here.

For the most part the House should be applauded for that piece of legislation. However we cannot talk out of both sides of our mouths and expect to gain credibility or acceptance on one side if we are saying something different. That is what in fact is happening here.

Canada is preparing to work against some of the other countries whose efforts are to ban all forms of cloning. Belgium put forward a motion at the United Nations international convention dealing with this. Canada will support a competing resolution to what the government is even attempting to pass here in the House. How can the government do both? Explain that to me and explain that to the public. Who is to be trusted? It is inconsistent.

That is part of the politics of this particular legislation. Forty countries worldwide would like to see a total ban on reproductive and therapeutic technologies, cloning, yet Canada is now speaking out of both sides of her mouth. That would have to fall back on the shoulders of the government.

How does it play out further? The government would like to see an end to this debate. Our party has suggested that there be a moratorium or a cessation of debate until further research and information comes to light, but that is not the action the government is taking. In fact, as soon as this debate dies today, there will be no other mechanism to continue debate.

We are debating a motion introduced by the government House leader that the question be now put. This motion is known as the previous question. On page 556 of Marleau and Montpetit, the previous question is described as “at best an unpredictable method of curtailing debate”. We on this side cannot hoist it. Once we stop talking about it today, in other words, once the situation develops where no other member rises to speak to it in the House, that is it. We cannot extend it.

That is the method available to the government to curtail the debate. The previous question, time allocation and closure are all means, so this is a form of time allocation. Personally, the fact that the government would curtail debate by using this procedure is embarrassing.

Just for the record, the government has invoked closure and time allocation 82 times. There have been 73 time allocation motions and nine closure motions. If we factor in the number of times the previous question has been used, the number jumps to close to 100. The government has curtailed the action of debate in the House 100 times.

On one of the most important pieces of legislation which we are debating right now it has decided to use time allocation. It is disgusting.

Regarding the politics of Bill C-13, some of the opposition members have decided to support the government. One of the parties, of course the New Democrats, opposed the bill because it did not ensure gender parity on the board. The board is another issue altogether and we could speak for quite awhile on the lack of accountability on the board, or the weakness of the board which could in fact be overridden by the Minister of Health. We could speak for a long time to that issue alone.

The NDP has decided to side with the government and support the bill now, all because of one very weak argument. The government has assured the NDP with a written promise that gender parity on the board will be certain. How weak can that party get? Is that the NDP's sole argument on a matter as important as this one?

I think we should be re-examining the whole process of debate if that is as weak as the NDP is in its arguments to support a bill that is as serious as this one.

Our party has chosen not to support this legislation, for good cause, and I support the member for Mississauga South in his endeavour to bring all the issues to light.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, the debate has been going on in this House since April 4. By the comments that are coming across from the opposition, I think people are getting the impression that once the bill is passed everything is going to happen immediately. Nothing could be further from the truth. Also, the impression is being left in the minds of the listening public that this was a kind of impulsive act. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The royal commission in 1993 gave us instructions and gave us direction. We followed those instructions and recommendations. After many years of intensive research work done by people behind the scenes, a draft bill was presented to the health committee, of which I am a member. I attended every meeting and I know exactly what happened in those meetings.

A draft bill was presented in 2001. There were 34 recommendations that came from the committee. Bill C-13, then called Bill C-56, emerged on May 9, 2002. There were over 100 amendments dealt with by the committee at that stage. Those amendments clearly indicated, not only from the government side but also from the side of the opposition, that a tremendous amount of thought and dedication was devoted to Bill C-13 and the concepts contained therein.

Then it came back at the report stage with 84 more amendments. Those amendments were not identical to the first batch, again indicating that controversy was raging and that we wanted more clarification and improvements within the bill. That was done and since April 4 we have been debating this issue.

I am presenting that information simply because I want the listening public to realize that there was a tremendous amount of energy, not only from people within the House of Commons, people who work for the House of Commons, but from people all across this country and in other countries in the world who have communicated with the health committee, through telehealth and document after document giving us information, perceptions and scientific evidence over all these years.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time I have risen to speak to Bill C-13 because of the very strong and serious concerns we have.

This is an area of uncharted waters and the bill can have very serious ethical and moral complications. Therefore, it is very necessary, before we pass the bill, to take a step back, look at it very carefully and then decide as a society what exactly we want to do.

My colleagues on this side of the House and a number of members on the government side as well have stated their objections to the bill. This issue affects everybody. We cannot take it lightly. As I said the last time I spoke to the bill, we have some very serious concerns because we see loopholes in the bill of which individuals could take advantage and which could start us off in a direction that later on we may regret.

Let me talk about what Bill C-13 is about. It is about human cloning. It is about reproductive technology. These are the issues now before the Canadian Parliament. A commission has looked into this, with the former prime minister's wife as one of the commissioners. Our former leader, Mr. Preston Manning, spent a huge amount of time studying this topic. Because of the concerns that have arisen with the bill and the loopholes that exist, members on all sides of the House of Commons, from all parties, are expressing serious concern.

As I mentioned, there are loopholes. They give us an uneasy feeling. I do not understand why we cannot have very tight controls on this until we are positive and we know in which direction we are going with research. Why would the government not put those controls in place? We do not know.

Even with what is happening at the United Nations, what the government is trying to do, we do not know. An international convention to ban human cloning is being debated at the United Nations right now. One resolution, which is backed by the U.S. and several other countries, calls for a comprehensive ban on all human cloning, reproductive and therapeutic. That would be consistent with what the government is trying to do with Bill C-13, which would prohibit the creation of human cloning by any technique. That is fair enough, but there is another resolution out there, which calls for a ban on only reproductive cloning. Strangely enough, the government is supporting that resolution.

On one hand the government is supporting a resolution that calls for a complete ban on cloning, but on the other hand it is supporting another resolution that says the ban is only for reproductive cloning. Why this double standard? What is the government trying to say? We just do not seem to understand the direction the government is taking.

As my colleague who spoke before me said, the government is now trying to ram through the bill because I guess the Prime Minister wants to leave a legacy. It is on his agenda and he wants to do it, but it may have serious implications in the future. We wonder why we cannot debate the bill. Why can the bill not go back to the committee? Why can all these loopholes we have indicated not be tightened? Why can it not be explained to us exactly what the government's agenda is? We seem to be getting conflicting reports.

For example, in May 2001 the former minister of health supported an international convention to prevent human cloning. The resolution said no more human cloning and everybody agreed with that. Speaking in Geneva at the meeting of the WHO, the former minister gave his support for a resolution condemning cloning as “ethically unacceptable and contrary to human dignity”.

We have conflicting messages coming from the government. It does not know in which direction it wants to go or what it wants to do. Therefore, Canadians are a little wary. We are wary of the bill. Where is the bill going? It becomes even more disturbing to us with the loophole I have mentioned.

Is it on the government's agenda to allow therapeutic cloning to go ahead? If it is on the government's agenda, then it should say that so Canadians can know exactly what the government means. What does the government want with the bill? Why create a bill that has loopholes? Why go to the UN with two different positions? Nobody knows where Canada stands on this issue. We have to wonder what the government's hidden agenda is. Even the government members who are opposing this legislation do not seem to know where their government is headed on this issue.

As I have said, human cloning, being a new technology, goes against all ethical and moral teachings in society. We of course do know that stem cells have a very strong research value. We also know that stem cell research is needed because of its very good therapeutic advantages. But those are adult stem cells.

It is time for us to take a step back and say we should not have human cloning but we should go ahead with adult stem cell research. That way, we will know precisely where we are going and when we go into these uncharted waters we will know in which direction we are going. Why would we try to navigate uncharted waters and find ourselves beached in an area where we never wanted to go?

We have all heard of the lady in Paris who said her group had attempted to clone the first human being, but we now know that story was not true. That lady in Paris said her group had done the first human cloning. I am certainly glad it did not happen. Of course we all know the story of Dolly the sheep. Do we really need to go that way?

I can say without a doubt that Canadians do not accept human cloning in any capacity. The majority does not. We do not want to go into that area. Since we do not, we need to stand up and say in the clearest terms that we will not accept any bill that has the potential, as Bill C-13 does, for loopholes that can lead us in that direction.

In conclusion, my party will not agree with Bill C-13 because of our reservations.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is good to get up to speak on Bill C-13 again. I have been up numerous times on the bill and I do not believe the government has listened very well to some of our concerns. As the debate goes on I am hopeful, as these issues are brought up time and again, that some of it will sink in and that some of the things we are pushing for will come to pass.

One of the most controversial things is the whole issue of embryonic stem cell research. Through my experience with office with emails, letters and phone calls, this is one of the most controversial aspects of the bill. People are very concerned about the use of embryonic cells because there has been very little science put forward to say that there is any benefit to using them or that any big steps have been made to improve human life by this type of research. Most of the benefits have been made through adult stem cell research, which is a totally different issue.

The thing I suppose that people key on is the fact that we are creating a life to be used in research and once one extracts cells from an embryo to use in research, the embryo and that form of life is destroyed. The specific creation of embryos to be used in research is the issue.

What has been said is that any embryos that are created through in vitro fertilization and that are left over may be used in research. It does not take too big of a step to then realize that of course, if there is a marketplace developed and a value put on these embryos, enough will be produced that there will be leftovers and they will be used in research. That is the problem many people have.

We had news today about the UN convention on human cloning and that the government may be changing its mind on the complete ban of human cloning to which it has agreed. It is something we have certainly pushed for all throughout the debate on reproductive technology. It looks now through the UN that there may be a shift in the government's policy.

We need to ensure that Canadians are aware that the government is considering doing something along these lines and this debate needs to take place. Canadians need to have input into the debate. They need to understand fully what the government is doing. Is it saying one thing in Canada, then it is going to the UN and saying something else? This is critical to the support that some people have offered to the bill. I think if it becomes clear that the government is going to change its position on human cloning, there will be a large shift in how people feel about Bill C-13 and many more people will oppose it. We have to be cognizant that the government is looking at a possible shift in that position and ensure that Canadians are aware of it.

Getting back to the stem cell research aspect of Bill C-13, if a body is put in place to oversee the operations of this entire industry and if it us up that body to define and apply the law which will be created if the bill passes, then it is up to us to ensure, and we have seen this in other cases of law, that as law makers we make it absolutely clear what the intention of the bill is.

Words like “all necessary steps” or “all necessary issues” need to be handled. We cannot leave any kind of weasel words in a bill such as this that could be interpreted in a way that was not intended by us as parliamentarians when it was put together.

I think that it is necessary to make sure that some of the clarification is there and that if the embryos that are created for in vitro fertilization are allowed to be used in research, that there has to be very strict rules put on those clinics to make sure that the number of embryos that are created do not suddenly multiple or swell in numbers so that there is an assured supply to researchers and particularly if there is a value put on those and it becomes a marketplace situation where they are bought and sold and bid on in the industry.

I would like to see greater clarity around the provisions on embryonic research described in subclause 40(2). The clause as currently worded states:

A licence authorizing the use of an in vitro embryo for the purpose of research may be issued only if the Agency is satisfied that the use is necessary for the purpose of the proposed research.

What are they going to base their decision on whether it is necessary? More than likely on the request coming from the researcher and based on little else. If the agency is structured properly so there is enough variance of opinion on the board and if it looks at all of the issues and ensures the letter of the law is followed, that would possibly help. However there is no guarantee that that would happen.

Therefore, the word necessary in “satisfied that the use is necessary for purpose of the proposed research” brings us back into the debate on whether we need embryonic stem cells when we could use adult stem cells. From all indications that we have been able to find, adult stem cells have brought forward the most development. There have been some tremendous advances on some of the most terrible diseases that afflict humans. However, that advancement has not been through embryonic research, it has been through adult stem cell research.

We need to apply the three year ban for which our party has been asking, an absolute prohibition on any embryonic research. Emphasis should be put on the adult stem cell research until it is clearly demonstrated that no further advancements can be made using them. That should be the only time we should consider creating life to use in research.

The other issues we have talked about at length.

On the whole issue of banning cloning, I remember going to a meeting on Parliament Hill with Preston Manning, who was leading the file on this at the time. He brought together some of the greatest minds in Canada and North America to discuss the whole idea of cloning, what good that would bring to the medical profession, the mapping of the human genome and some things that many of us do not completely comprehend or could even possibly scratch the surface to understand. The impression I got from these people was that a great deal of caution needed to be taken when we were dealing with the issue.

It has become an issue that many Canadians have become engaged in, many for moral and ethical reasons and many for the way they have been raised and taught over the years in their homes and in their churches.

We do not think placing a three year moratorium is asking an lot. It would give us a three year window where we could and should put emphasis on adult stem cells, supporting that area of research and seeing how far the advances can go when all our concentration is put in that area. Then if it does not become clear that adult stem cells meet the needs, we could reconsider. I personally believe that is where the advancements have been and where they will continue to be. There would be enough forward movement working with those cells that the necessity to create life to use it in research will not be there.

It is good to rise again to put another comment forward on the bill. I hope members on the government side is listening. I do not believe at this point in time that most of them are, but I hope as the debate goes forward more and more will sink in and they will see the light and vote against Bill C-13.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to comment on Bill C-13, An Act respecting assisted human reproduction. I have a few concerns about this bill. I will read from a text that will help illustrate my concerns.

Initially, the concern was the ethics of destroying human embryos to harvest stem cells for research, but as time passed many other weaknesses of the bill were discovered. I would want the House to consider the following.

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.

The bill would permit 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.

The conflict of interest provisions are so weak that they would allow biotech and pharmaceutical companies to be represented on a board of the agency that would approve and license research projects.

Significant clauses of the bill have been qualified by phrases such as “as per the regulations”. There are 28 areas in which regulations must be developed and these will not be known until at least 18 months after the bill is passed. Effectively, MPs are being asked to vote on a bill without knowing the full intent. Furthermore, MPs will not be permitted to approve the regulations.

The Royal Commission on Reproductive Technologies and the health committee both recommended that paid surrogacy be prohibited. The bill would permit a surrogate to be reimbursed for lost employment income if that person obtained a doctor's certificate.

The bill ignores women's health issues by not establishing reasonable limits on the amount of drugs used on them or on the number of ova that can be harvested or embryos that can be implanted.

The bill would prohibit the purchase or sale of human reproductive material, but Health Canada has not explained how researchers would get embryos from for profit fertility clinics without paying compensation.

The bill would not establish uniform disclosure or informed consent practices to be used by all fertility clinics. Such disclosure would protect the interests of the infertile.

The health committee urged that the bill state what constituted necessary research. Specifically, it recommended that research on human embryos be permitted only if it could be demonstrated there was no other biological material that could be used to achieve the same research objectives. The bill rejects the recommendation and delegates the decision to the federal agency.

The health committee made 36 recommendations on the draft bill. Its report received no response and most of its key recommendations were not reflected in Bill C-13.

The health committee heard from over 200 witnesses and received over 400 written submissions. As a result of its work, the committee passed three substantive amendments to the bill. At report stage, all three amendments were reversed to the effect that the work of the health committee was virtually ignored.

There are many more deficiencies in areas such as patentability, adoption of embryos and the use of fetus parts, but the examples noted paint a clear picture of a bill that needs to be fixed or defeated.

Breast Cancer ResearchStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Liberal Whitby—Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House and all Canadians that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Yesterday, across Canada, over 160,000 Canadians took part in the CIBC Run for the Cure, raising an unprecedented $17 million for breast cancer research.

Breast cancer is a major health problem for women in Canada. It is estimated that over 21,000 new breast cancer cases will be diagnosed this year and 5,300 women will die from this disease.

The federal government is concerned about the physical and emotional impact this disease has on Canadians and has a longstanding commitment to the Canadian breast cancer initiative which focuses on: prevention; early detection; surveillance and monitoring; enhanced quality approaches to breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and care; community capacity building; and research.

We are continuing to reduce the number of new cases of breast cancer, to improve the quality of life for those affected by the disease and to decrease the number of deaths it causes.

I encourage my fellow members of Parliament and all Canadians to support breast cancer awareness.

Ogden House Seniors AssociationStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Ogden House Seniors Association has approximately 175 active volunteers. These volunteers help run the many programs that secure the mental, physical, emotional and social well-being of the seniors in the community. Its programs include physical activities, games, shared meals, crafts, assistance with lawn care and snow removal, and visitation for those seniors who are isolated. Volunteers pick up and return library books for those who are unable to do it themselves. These services allow seniors to stay in their homes when they might otherwise not have been able to do so.

I would like to thank the volunteers of the Ogden House Seniors Association and commend them on their efforts. Their hard work and dedication is an example for all of us.

National ParksStatements by Members

October 6th, 2003 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week the Prime Minister was in British Columbia to sign an agreement establishing the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. The Prime Minister also outlined the plan to work with Premier Campbell on creating two national marine conservation areas and a new national park in the south Okanagan.

These achievements mark 35 years worth of activism and continued commitment by the Prime Minister to protecting Canada's environment.

The government has an ambitious plan to increase our national parks system by over 50%, adding over 100,000 square kilometres to the existing network. This is a long term process involving stakeholder consultations with individuals, with the provinces and with first nations representatives.

On behalf of all Canadians, I welcome the addition of this park to preserve our valuable natural and ecological heritage. I congratulate our Prime Minister.

Dan SnyderStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, our hearts go out today to my constituents, Graham and Luanne Snyder of Elmira, Ontario, on the tragic loss of their son Dan. He died Sunday night from injuries received in a car crash one week ago.

Dan Snyder was a forward in the National Hockey League with the Atlanta Thrashers.

As winner of the Turner Cup of the International Hockey League and the Calder Cup of the American Hockey League, Dan was a talented young man who lived his boyhood dream of playing in the National Hockey League. He had a rewarding career in hockey ahead of him.

I want Dan's mother and father, brother Jeremy and sister Erika to know that they are in the thoughts and prayers of every member of the House and all Canadians.

Government AssistanceStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, last week Nova Scotia was battered by hurricane Juan, the worst storm to hit Canada in my lifetime.

Many communities were decimated. Fishing villages from Indian Harbour to Peggy's Cove and from East Dover to Herring Cove were pummelled by high winds and huge waves.

These communities have relied on the sea for their sustenance for hundreds of years. The people are rugged, hard-working and fiercely proud. They were forced to watch that same sea destroy much of what they had built. They need their government's help. Their hour of need is now.

Lobster season opens in seven short weeks. Wharves and sheds must be repaired or replaced. Traps have been washed away and new ones are needed.

I implore the Government of Canada to provide relief now, not years from now. These proud Canadians need a hand.

JusticeStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Canadian Alliance Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week the sleepy, quiet bedroom community of Okotoks, Alberta will grow just a bit, not because of new families moving in to take advantage of the safety and family spirit in that community, but because three convicted pedophiles will be released almost simultaneously into that small town. The residents, undoubtedly, are shocked and in disbelief but it is true.

It is also true that since pedophiles can never be cured the residents have a real reason for their fear. Pedophiles never get better and never stop being a risk.

Equally scary is a Liberal government that does not care. In fact, the government is much more interested in the rights of pedophiles than the rights of children to be safe from pedophiles.

This week, Okotoks residents will be meeting in protest. I am sorry to tell them that their protest will fall on deaf ears because in Canada the only people the Liberal government is willing to listen to are those folks like John Robin Sharpe and Karl Toft, pedophiles in their own right.