Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Group No. 2 amendments to Bill C-13, an act respecting assisted human reproductive technologies and related research.
First, this is my first opportunity to speak to this bill in any form. I would also like to thank my colleague, the member for Yellowhead, who has shepherded the bill through its many stages on behalf of the Canadian Alliance.
Group No. 2 amendments encompass Motions Nos. 13, 14, 16, 17, 20, 22 to 24, 26, 27, 40 and 47. I will address each in turn in what time is allowed.
Let me assure the House that the Canadian Alliance supports these amendments because the government brought in a flawed piece of legislation. The opposition knows this, as do Liberal members across the aisle. In fact, with the exception of Motion No. 17 which was brought forth by the Canadian Alliance member for Calgary Southeast, all these motions we are discussing today were brought forth by the Liberal member for Mississauga South.
Unfortunately, although all parties recognize the necessity of rectifying the government's flawed piece of legislation, the arrogance of the Prime Minister and his whip makes them believe that they do not have to take Parliament seriously.
Whenever a Liberal backbencher gets uppity and propose reasoned amendments like today, what is the Prime Minister's response? It is a vote of confidence. In other words, he is saying to Liberal backbenchers to vote how he tells them or he will force an election and not sign their nomination papers.
The Prime Minister flouts this institution and he flouts democracy. The Canadian Alliance is willing to take a stand and challenges the Prime Minister to allow his MPs to vote freely on the bill and this group of amendments.
Speaking of the Group No. 2 amendments, I will start by saying that I will deal with the motions thematically and not numerically as some of my colleagues have chosen to do.
The major themes within these motions are human cloning, the creation of embryos for research purposes and transgenics, the science of mixing human and animal DNA to create hybrids.
Motions Nos. 13, 22 and 40 deal with cloning.
First, Motion No. 13 expands the prohibition on the creation of a human clone in paragraph 5(1)(a) with the addition of “by using any technique”, to achieve greater clarity. It also specifies that no one shall transplant a clone into any non-human life form or artificial device. This is important because the current wording only prohibits transplanting a clone into a human being.
The Canadian Alliance supports Motion No. 13 because we will support any and all efforts to close possible loopholes in the prohibition on cloning.
Motion No. 22 expands upon the provisions already in the bill, preventing cloning for research purposes. The amendment simply expands the definition to include a ban on cloning of embryos for research or reproduction.
Motion No. 40 also deals with cloning. It adds specific prohibition on therapeutic research cloning. The bill already bans both reproductive and research cloning but for purposes of certainty this amendment should also be passed.
I will also try to deal with Motions Nos. 14, 16, 17 and 24 regarding the use of embryos.
We support Motion No. 14 as it amends a very important aspect of the bill. Currently the bill's existing clause would allow creation of embryos for purposes of improving or providing instruction in assisted reproduction procedures. We oppose the creation and use of embryos for research purposes. This is simply wrong.
Like Motion No. 14, Motion No. 16 strengthens the prohibition against creating embryos. Current wording of the clause in the bill prohibits creating an embryo from a cell or from part of a cell of another embryo for the purpose of creating a human being. The amendment removes “for the purpose of creating a human being” to ensure there is no creation of embryos for any purpose, not merely that of creating a fully mature human being.
Motion No. 17 is the one that I mentioned earlier. The amendment moved by my colleague from Calgary is well thought out and reasoned, and I would encourage the government to support it. Basically this clause adds a prohibition on embryonic research: no person shall “experiment on or harvest an embryo”. The current wording in the bill says that embryonic research can be undertaken under licence if the agency is satisfied that such research is “necessary”.
Embryonic stem cell research is ethically controversial and it divides Canadians. It ultimately results in the destruction of the embryo. For many Canadians, this violates the ethical commitment to respect human dignity, integrity and life. It is unnecessary as adult stem cells have been proven to be a safe alternative to embryonic stem cell research. They are being used today in the treatment of Parkinson's, leukemia, MS and other conditions.
Motion No. 24 is very important as it puts time limits on embryo storage.
Finally, I will deal with the remaining Motions Nos. 20, 23, 26, 27 and 47 which deal with transgenics and the mixing of human and non-human DNA to create hybrids.
Motion No. 20 is another reasoned amendment to this bill as it deals with the almost science fiction premise of mixing humans and non-humans, something I would have hoped the minister would have considered before rushing this bill out. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with the government, she did not. Motion No. 20 prevents the transplantation of sperm, ovum, embryo or fetus of a human being into a non-human life form.
Motion No. 23 is another motion that seeks to prevent the mixing of human and non-human DNA by adding a new prohibited activity, transgenics, combining any portion of the human genome with any part of the genome and non-human species. This motion is in conjunction with Motion No. 47 which I also hope is passed.
Motion No. 47 deletes clause 11 on transgenics, corresponding to Motion No. 23, moving transgenics to prohibited activities. As the two motions come hand in hand, we will support them as a group.
Yet another motion dealing with the combining of animal-human hybrids is Motion No. 26 and I have dealt with that.
Motion No. 27 is very important. It adds a prohibition on reproduction and links as well with Motion No. 26.
Once again as I wrap up, I would just like to emphasize that the government needs to allow MPs to vote freely on this bill. This is a very important moral decision for all MPs and they must be allowed to vote their conscience and their constituents' wishes.
As an example, even in my own office I have had many people write to me with their concerns on this issue. They believe that science should have a role in trying to make life better for people with debilitating diseases. However they are concerned as well for the protection of the sanctity of life and what sort of measures this place can put in place to move forward with science but with the respect for life. That is something about which all MPs should have a say.
We should have that vote and we should be able to vote freely. I think most Canadians would only expect that from Parliament, so I hope that will be considered as we continue to deliberate on this bill.