House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.


Points of Order

11:05 a.m.


Raymond Bonin Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in response to a point of order raised by the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot pertaining to comments made during the last in camera meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources.

I wish to withdraw any comments made with which the member has taken exception. Out of respect for you, Mr. Speaker, and the House, I wish to take it up a notch and apologize to all members of the House of Commons, especially to the members of the standing committee.

In such matters, context is essential to understanding and I now wish to raise my own point of order. It is important to share with the House the comments made by the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, which prompted my reaction. The member had repeatedly confronted the chair of the committee with the angry warning, “On va t'avoir. On va te fixer”. Roughly translated, it means, “We will get you. We will fix you”. I consider those words to be of a most serious nature.

I request that you ask the member to explain who he meant by “we” and what he meant by “We will fix you”. I am sure Mr. Speaker will note that the use of “fixer” in this context does not have its traditional meaning of “to stare at something”.

If I am to chair a committee of the House with three mandates, aboriginal affairs, northern development and natural resources with five political parties at the table, I do not believe that I should be required to discharge my duties with the added burden of concern for my safety.

Mr. Speaker, I leave my point of order in your capable hands and defer to your judgment and wisdom.

Points of Order

11:05 a.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for his assistance on this point, which the Chair has under advisement at this moment. I will take his comments into consideration in the ruling that I will be giving on this matter in due course.

It being 11:08 a.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

moved that Bill C-343, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to be standing here this morning regarding this issue. I would like to thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast for initiating this private member's bill, Bill C-343, an act to amend the Citizenship Act.

I ask Canadians, especially the government, to listen carefully to what the bill is about because what I am about to disclose is an eye opener. It is an eye opener that may put into question whether an individual is truly a Canadian citizen because being born in Canada may not necessarily mean that one is a citizen.

We never question our birthright. We take it for granted. We assume that because we are born here we are automatically a Canadian citizen for life. This may not be the case for some, especially if they were born in Canada between 1946 and 1977, if their parents moved to another country and while in that other country became citizens of that country. This could happen to someone we know: a neighbour, a friend or a relative.

This private members bill, Bill C-343, would correct a wrong that should have been resolved when the Citizenship and Immigration Act, replaced in 1977, allowed dual citizenship, but the dual citizenship allowed in 1977 was not retroactive.

Let me go back to the provisions of the first Citizenship Act that was introduced in 1946. The 1946 first Citizenship Act meant that children born in Canada could lose their citizenship if their parents became citizens of another country. This private member's bill would amend the existing act to recognize Canadian born children who left the country between 1946 and 1977.

A person born in Canada today is a Canadian citizen for life but there are thousands of people who do not have this right. Why? It because these people, through no fault of their own, lost their Canadian citizenship. They are called “lost Canadians”. Not only have they lost their Canadian citizenship, the government has made these children stateless because at that time children did not automatically become U.S. citizens when their parents did.

Let me take a few minutes to outline the gist of this private member's bill. Bill C-343 is designed to remedy the situation where people were, as children, deprived of their Canadian citizenship as a result of the operation of “section 18 of the Canadian Citizenship Act, chapter 15 ofthe Statutes of Canada, 1946”. This provision was in force until February 14, 1977, and provided that a minor child ceased to be a Canadian citizen upon the responsible parent becoming the citizen of another country.

Bill C-343 would make it easier for those people to regain their Canadian citizenship as they would no longer have to be established as a permanent resident in order to do so.

Many do not meet the landed immigrant entry requirement which is required in order to be considered lawfully admitted. People like Mr. Don Chapman, a U.S. airline pilot, does not meet the resident requirement of one year to resume his citizenship because of the nature of his employment.

Bill C-343 makes reference to amending Section 11 of the Citizenship Act by adding the following after subsection 1(1):

The requirement set out in paragraph 1(d) does not apply to a person who ceased to be a Canadian citizen as a result of a parent of that person acquiring the citizenship or nationality of another country before February 15, 1977.

Further, the Liberal bill, Bill C-18, introduced in the second session of the 37th Parliament entitled the citizenship of Canada act, fails to remedy the problem faced by lost Canadians.

Bill C-343 is about lost Canadians, Canadians like Don Chapman, who I mentioned earlier. Don is presently a pilot for a U.S. airline. He was born in Canada of Canadian parents. In 1961 he moved with his parents to Seattle. He was seven years old.

Mr. Chapman lost his rights as a Canadian because his parents swore allegiance to the United States. Mr. Chapman wants to return to his homeland where he was born, but Canada will not give him his citizenship back.

Federal immigration officials said that Mr. Chapman's parents had effectively forfeited his Canadian citizenship in 1961 when they moved to the U.S.A. and took out American citizenship. To me, this is ridiculous. Don Chapman did not apply for American citizenship. His parents did.

Another example is of Ms. Magali Castro-Gyr, a fourth generation Montreal Canadian born in 1959. Her mother is a Canadian citizen but her father became a U.S. citizen and, because of her father's actions, she was stripped of her Canadian citizenship. Did Ms. Magali Castro-Gyr know she was no longer a Canadian citizen? No, she did not.

She discovered she had lost her Canadian citizenship when in 2001 she applied for Canadian citizenship certificates for her two sons. She was informed by a Citizenship and Immigration official in October 2001 that she had ceased to be a Canadian citizen in 1975 when her father became a U.S. citizen.

Ms. Castro-Gyr is living in Canada. She has a Canadian passport. She has a social insurance number and she has a job as a teacher.

Some people, like Ms. Castro-Gyr, may not know they are not legally Canadians until they apply for a passport and are turned down.

There are many other lost Canadians, like Mr. Charles Bosdet who was born in Manitoba in 1956. His father became a Mexican citizen and, in 1965, his mother and father became U.S. citizens. Mr. Bosdet discovered that he was not a Canadian because his father became an American citizen. In fact, Mr. Bosdet is stateless.

There are many hundreds more Canadians who believe they are legally Canadian citizens but have actually lost their citizenship because of one or both of their parents moved and became citizens of another country.

I strongly urge that Canadians born in Canada between 1946 and 1977, whose parents became citizens of another country, to check their documents. They may discover they are no longer Canadians.

Under the 1947 Citizenship Act women were, in essence, property of their husbands and children were property of their fathers.

In Bill C-18, presently before the House, the government has addressed the women affected by the original Citizenship Act of 1947 saying that they should be allowed back into Canada as full-fledged citizens.

What about the lost Canadian children? Should our lost Canadian children not also be allowed full-fledged citizenship?

Let me restate that Bill C-343 is exclusive to those individuals who fall within the parameters of losing their citizenship through no fault of their own, as a consequence of their parents taking out citizenship in another country. These lost Canadians did not voluntarily choose to be citizens of another country. Their parents did.

We should adopt this private member's bill, Bill C-343, and welcome our lost Canadians home.

As stated earlier, the 1977 Citizenship Act which replaced the 1947 act allowed for dual citizenship but was not retroactive. Those Canadian children lost their citizenship under the 1947 Canadian Citizenship Act, an act that came into force from January 1, 1947 to February 14, 1977.

The act stated:

Where the responsible parent of a minor child ceases to be a Canadian citizen under section 15, 16 or 17, the child thereupon ceases to be a Canadian citizen if he is or thereupon becomes, under the law of any country other than Canada, a national or citizen of that country.

Bill C-343 would allow these individuals, in most cases children who lost their Canadian citizenship between the years 1946 and 1977 as a consequence of their parents acquiring another country's citizenship, to have their Canadian citizenship reinstated if desired.

I will wind up as I know many members in the House want to speak to this issue. Bill C-343 should be incorporated into Bill C-18, the Citizenship and Immigration Act to correct historic wrongs and bring the 2003 act up to current morals and standards of what it means to be Canadian.

Let us pass this bill and finally welcome home our lost Canadians. Allow them to reclaim the birthright they lost as a child. As the Canadian Alliance citizenship and immigration senior critic from Calgary West stated in Halifax on February 10, “citizenship should not be stripped from anyone except by their own decision or by their own actions”.

This private member's bill is to correct a wrong that should have been resolved in 1977. I ask the House to support this private member's bill, Bill C-343, so this wrong can be corrected and allow our lost Canadians to finally come home.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Brampton Centre Ontario


Sarkis Assadourian LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate the statements made by my colleague from the Alliance Party who moved the motion. As he mentioned in his speech, we discussed this issue in the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. However also he knows nobody in the House is opposed the principle of this idea. We all support it.

Is the hon. member suggesting that citizenship be given back to these individuals, these lost Canadians, without security or health checks, which is required of all new Canadians coming into the country?

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, this can all be done. That is not the tie-up here. I take a little exception to the question. I have no problem with the security or health checks.

If it is a financial concern the member opposite may have in this regard, this is basically a non-issue. Citizenship being stripped from children without their choice is not fair at any time. On the financial end, and I will state this bluntly, we see the waste and disregard for the use of taxpayer money, and I could mention many things. This far offsets these people coming back as Canadian citizens and it becomes a non-issue in just about everybody's mind.

I do not think anyone has a problem of having background checks done on these people.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Brampton Centre Ontario


Sarkis Assadourian LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my question, I do not think any person in the House or in the country would like to see individuals lose their citizenship because of things they did not do or did not even know about it. As the member mentioned, this was done from 1947 to 1967, before we changed the law to ensure this did not take place.

Bill C-343 addresses the issue but does not tell us how it would be overcome. As my colleague has said in answer to my question, he agrees with me that security checks and health requirements have to be complied with before we give citizenship back to individuals. Obviously the intent is good but we have to follow procedures. The hon. member mentioned two individuals who made presentations to committee. We all support the concept of giving back citizenship to them. However the issue is how to do it.

In 1947 those citizens left the country with their children and chose to revoke their citizenship on their own. The children of those parents automatically lost their citizenship. That was the case from 1947 to 1967. We changed the law and we cannot do that any more. Now the individuals must decide by themselves. If they were to revoke citizenship that would be their own choice. In some cases they can have dual citizenship, such as Canadian and American or Canadian and French, or any other nationality they wish, provided Canada has a bilateral agreement with that country.

As recently as this February, the federal court passed two judgments on the same issue, in the case of Avner Gordon and David Gordon and in the case of Henry Sieradzki. Both judgments confirm the fact that there must be a requirement for them to join their Canadian families without losing anything. Also the court decided the decision did not contradict any Canadian human rights and therefore complied with human rights regulations. That is why we asked these individuals to come forward and apply. Hopefully we can process them as soon as possible and give them back the citizenship they so richly deserve.

Bill C-18 would change the law so individuals would have to live in Canada for one year within a two year period to become citizens. Presently it is one in three. When I became a citizen in 1975, I had to be here five years to become citizen. I am happy things have been relaxed, which is good.

All we require from these individuals is for them to live here for a year to show that they are committed and that they care about Canada. There is no reason to doubt them but under the laws they have to show a commitment to Canada by living here for a year. Rather than the three year period, it would be a two year period and they could then get their citizenship as the law requires.

Bill C-343 would mean automatic citizenship for these individuals. As I said earlier, we agree with the principle. However I do not think it is right that it be given automatically. The hon. member himself said we have to have security checks.

We are lucky to live next door to the United States. It does not take too long to have security checks done, one or two weeks or maybe a month. The RCMP asks the proper authorities south of the border to check on a person. That is easy. However with some countries overseas, Europe, South America, Africa, whatever the case may be, it takes a long time. Sometimes it takes two years for security checks. That is why we are asking that they co-operate with us so security checks can be done and health requirements approved before we give citizenship.

This is not the final word. The minister agrees on the principle of this issue. The committee will discuss this in the next few weeks. I am hopeful we will come up with new solutions that will satisfy the hon. member and everybody in the House. However we have to follow the course and discuss this issue in committee, as the hon. member mentioned earlier.

I look forward to the debate and the input of everybody involved in this subject at the committee for citizenship and immigration.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-343, which started out in February 2002 as Bill C-428.

This bill is intended to remedy a serious problem for those affected by it. The first Citizenship Act, in 1946, specified that a child of minor age automatically lost Canadian citizenship when the custodial parent became a national or citizen of another country. A child born here who would normally have Canadian citizenship lost it because his or her parents became nationals or citizens of another country.

It must be kept in mind that, prior to 1977, dual citizenship was not allowed. Now it is, and has been since 1977. However, when the 1946 legislation was amended, no measure was introduced to correct what might be termed an injustice to the children affected since 1946, because dual citizenship was possible from 1977 on.

The most that is in place in the 1977 legislation is a clause specifying that a person who once had Canadian citizenship may recover it once he or she has been admitted as a landed immigrant and resided in Canada for one full year before applying for citizenship. I would remind hon. members that we are referring here to people who were born with Canadian citizenship but lost it because of a decision by their parent or parents.

It is important to stress that citizenship by naturalization does not comprise exactly the same rights and privileges as that acquired by birth. A naturalized citizen can have his or her citizenship revoked, and can be declared inadmissible, while those born with citizenship cannot.

What I have just said is equally true for Bill C-18, which includes anti-terrorist clauses calling for the revocation of the citizenship of naturalized citizens through recourse to a judicial process including the use of secret evidence. There is no right of appeal and expulsion from the country is automatic.

How many people would be affected by Bill C-343? That is very hard to say. It is even harder to say whether all those affected would want to regain Canadian citizenship.

Some cases have come forward. For example, there is Don Chapman, who testified before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Mr. Chapman, who was born in Vancouver, Canada, found himself in this situation when his parents emigrated to the United States. Therefore, he lost his Canadian citizenship. All his adult life, he has wanted to become a Canadian citizen again.

He applied directly to the then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to ask for special treatment, but to no avail. All he was told was that he had to follow the pre-established rules requiring individuals to apply for permanent residence and live in Canada for one full year before applying for citizenship. However, Mr. Chapman's problem is that he is an airline pilot, which would, according to him, make it difficult for him to fulfill these requirements.

I would add that the current minister, when consulted about another case, answered that he was open to these individuals applying for their citizenship and that each case would be considered individually.

However, in my opinion, this case-by-case approach, which may be the result of good will, runs up against the reality, which is that files are piling up on the desk of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. These files pertain to various matters, such as visas, applications for permanent residence, and so forth. All the members have submitted files to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. These files have been accumulating exponentially on his desk since September 11.

I would like to state that the Bloc Quebecois became very aware of the need to change these provisions. In fact, during a trip to Australia, the member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis—whom I will say hello to now, since she is recovering from a painful triple bypass—met a person from her riding who has to go through the same process as Mr. Chapman, which does not thrill him either.

Therefore, it was on the basis of information provided by the member for Rimouski--Neigette-et-la Mitis that we in the Bloc began our research to clarify the situation and look at the ways we could modify the law. That is why, after completing this research and after meeting Mr. Chapman herself, the member for Laval Centre proposed an amendment to Bill C-18 to address this problem.

The proposed amendment read as follows:

That the bill, in Clause 19, be amended by adding after line 10 page 13 the following:

And I shall read the exact wording proposed:

The requirements set out in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) do not apply to a person who ceased to be a Canadian citizen as a result of a parent of that person acquiring the citizenship or nationality of another country before February 15, 1977.

It seems to me that this would provide retroactive justice to these children who, if they had remained in Canada, would be Canadian citizens. If their parents had acquired another citizenship after 1977, these people also would have been able to keep their Canadian citizenship.

I hope that the government will be sensitive to this need for retroactive justice.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House and speak in support of Bill C-343. I would like to thank the member for Okanagan—Shuswap for bringing this bill forward. I believe it was previously introduced by the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast.

It is an important and pertinent issue today. The citizenship and immigration committee is debating and holding hearings across the country on a new citizenship bill. It is timely that this should come forward.

I, along with millions of Canadians, was not aware of the lost generation, the lost Canadians. It was in February or early March when I attended the citizenship hearings in Vancouver on Bill C-18 that there were a number of representatives, including Mr. Chapman, who came forward. They provided information that I found quite astounding in terms of the individual situations that they had managed to track through their website. The committee was informed about the impact of the changes made back in 1997 that everyone seems to have forgotten about.

It is important that we are debating the bill today and voting on it because it is something that needs to be rectified.

When we think about citizenship, it is not something that can normally be revoked unless a person makes some decision to do that. Here we have a bizarre historical situation. If during the period 1947 to 1977 parents moved to another country for employment, and in many cases in Canada it was to the U.S., their Canadian citizenship ended. The member for the Bloc pointed out that there was no dual citizenship at the time. Lo and behold, in many cases children and spouses unknowingly lost their citizenship as well. This is what is most astounding about this historical situation that exists in our country.

It is bad enough that it existed for so long that people went to tremendous financial expense, but they invested a great deal of time and energy in an emotional sense trying to get some redress. When they found out that they were not Canadian citizens, often by accident, they would seek some relief and redress.

What I find even more disturbing is the fact that Bill C-18 addresses issues around citizenship but does not contain anything that would deal with this historical situation.

We would think that the minister and the department would put this somewhere near the top of their list for an amendment that would provide relief in a pragmatic way for the people this affects. There is nothing in Bill C-18 that would deal with this.

We have delegations coming forward telling us that they feel aggrieved. I do not blame them. They have totally legitimate cases.

In fact, let us look at Bill C-18 and what it is trying to do. In the hearings that have been held so far across the country there is near unanimous opposition to the provisions in the bill. It would take us further down the road of taking citizenship away from people and revoking citizenship in a way that there would be no fair judicial process nor appeal.

We are not correcting the situation. We are actually making it worse. Potentially, many people in this country, if the bill were to be approved and I hope it would not be, would face very arduous circumstances if they were facing allegations under a security risk and so on.

At the hearing in Vancouver we heard stories of a number of people, including Mr. Chapman, Keith Menzie, Ron Nixon, and George Kyle.

One story that I found amazing involved Ms. Magali Castro-Gyr who was a natural born Canadian of Canadian parents. She had a valid Canadian passport and a social insurance number. When she went to register her two foreign born children, she was informed that she would not be able to do that. She was informed that she herself was no longer a Canadian. This lady had sponsored her husband who was from Switzerland and the government accepted that. Now the government was telling her and her family that they were not Canadians. It is truly a bizarre situation.

In debating this at the Vancouver hearing the chair and others agreed that this was a ridiculous situation and indicated that officials would be brought in and so on.

Some people think the bill before us does not go far enough, but at least it is a step in the right direction. The government member who spoke to the bill this morning did not make any suggestions as to what could be done. There is an acknowledgement that between 1947 and 1977 there was a lost generation of Canadians who are now faced with the trauma of what happened to them, but nothing has come forward from the government side in terms of how this would be addressed, either through the citizenship act or this private member's bill. There was even a bit of criticism asking why the creator of the bill had not thought about this step or that step. If the government is acknowledging that a problem exists, then surely it has all the resources within the department to figure out how the heck it is going to fix it.

I must wonder and question the government's intent here. Debating the bill today would give us an opportunity to test where the government is at on this issue. If it were committed to redressing what took place to an unknown number of individuals, then it would be helpful to have some information indicating what would be done. We have not had that indication in committee or the House.

I am now the immigration critic for the NDP. I will continue to press this issue as will other opposition members. My predecessor in this portfolio, the member for Winnipeg North Centre, also supported the bill in its previous form. She spoke out very strongly on this issue. We will continue to do that because Canadians have a legitimate grievance here.

I urge members on the government side to listen to this debate and when it comes time to vote on the bill, to either vote for it as far as it goes or make it absolutely clear that measures will be taken within the department to rectify this wrong that has existed for many years. People should be removed from this difficult emotional and financial situation of wondering who the heck they are and wondering if they are or are not Canadians.

The NDP supports Bill C-343 and we encourage other members to support it as well.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, just to make sure that we understand what we are talking about here, I will read the explanation. The bill “is designed to remedy the situation where a person has, as a child, been deprived of their Canadian citizenship as a result of the operation of section 18 of the Canadian Citizenship Act, chapter 15 of the Statutes of Canada, 1946”.

We must be very cognizant of the timeframe here. That was legislation in 1946, which is 57 years ago. A lot of things have changed since the statutes were developed at that time, as everyone can imagine.

That provision, which was in force until February 14, 1977, thus creating that 31 year gap we are talking about, provided that a minor child ceased to be a Canadian citizen upon the responsible parent becoming the citizen of another country.

This present enactment makes it easier for such people to gain or regain their Canadian citizenship so that they will no longer have to be established as permanent residents in order to do so.

However, again let us look at the timeframe in which that legislation was passed and enacted. Under the 1947 Citizenship Act, not only minor children but women were considered to be the property of their fathers and husbands. Therefore, before 1977, if a parent, the parent being the father in this case, relinquished his Canadian citizenship, under the law at the time the rest of the family also lost its Canadian citizenship. Of course, the child could have been any age, from a baby a couple of days old to a teenager or whatever, who may or may not have understood what it was all about or may or may not even have understood where or when he or she was born or what went on or what kind of country it was.

While it is regrettable that these wives and children also ceased to be Canadian, parents at that time made, and parents to some degree yet do make, decisions for their minor children. The decision to relinquish citizenship is another choice that the responsible parent made for the children. Really, it was a conscious decision made by the parents to move and to take up citizenship in another country, not ever thinking, of course, that it would perhaps become a major problem for the child down the road.

As we can remember, in 1946 there was not a lot of movement back and forth. Certainly very few of the people who left their homes in Canada, and in Atlantic Canada in particular, and moved to the United States ever thought they were coming back, and very few ever did. Many of the people affected by this law have spent their entire lives outside of Canada, as everyone knows. There is no provision under the Citizenship Act for resumption of citizenship for people who have ceased to be Canadian citizens as long as they are eligible for lawful admission to Canada and have resided in Canada as landed immigrants for at least one year. The place of birth may not be a condition for re-establishing citizenship. It is only one aspect of citizenship and should not be the only or the most important aspect when considering this bill. That is why we might question why the government has not made some changes.

We have to look at this almost as a case by case issue. First, where did the family move? In which country did the parents, or parent, because in the earlier years the father made the decision, take up residence? What has happened in the interim? We hear the example of the United States used quite often because a lot of our people moved to the United States for employment, as unfortunately many of them are doing today.

Today, of course, a lot of our people hold dual citizenship. It is not a major problem and there is a pretty free flow back and forth. However, what about if the parents moved to Afghanistan, the child grew up there, happened to come under bin Laden's instructions for x number of years and wanted to come back to Canada?

I do not think we can just have free flow, whereby people who were born in Canada and moved to some other country for x number of years, regardless of how young they were, automatically can come back without scrutiny. Perhaps the government is correct in this case in issuing a word of caution and I think it is an issue that we can only deal with on a case by case basis.

With our neighbours to the south, and perhaps other British countries like England or Australia, we have had a free flow of like-minded people. We do not have stringent immigration laws, but the thing is that in this day and age, since 9/11, there is a complete and utter difference in the awareness of people who come to our country and why they come here.

We have to be a little cautious here. We cannot just say that if people were born in Canada, regardless of where they went, regardless of where they lived, regardless of what they have done, then there is free flow back here. I do not think that is the way it can work. Perhaps the government is right in being a little cautious in this situation.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-343, an act to amend the Citizenship Act. This is the second incarnation of the bill, which unfortunately on its first introduction did not make the draw. I am grateful that due to the reform in the manner we treat and vote on private members' bills and to the assistance of my colleague, the member for Okanagan—Shuswap, the bill can now make it to the floor of the House for debate.

Reform of private members' business has been a long-standing initiative of the Canadian Alliance. We believe that giving more power to individual MPs in the development of legislation would make this institution much more vital and more democratic. Allowing for all private members' bills to be votable adds further impetus and meaning to the role of a member of Parliament, ending the lottery approach to getting a worthwhile and enlightened bill before the House.

Let me point out that Bill C-343:

is designed to remedy the situation where a person has, as a child, been deprived of their Canadian citizenship as a result of the operation of section 18 of the Canadian Citizenship Act, chapter 15 of the Statutes of Canada, 1946. That provision, which was in force until February 14, 1977, provided that a minor child ceased to be a Canadian citizen upon their responsible parent becoming the citizen of another country. This enactment makes it easier for such a person to regain their Canadian citizenship as they will no longer have to be established as a permanent resident in order to do so.

Further, if Bill C-18, introduced in the second session of the 37th Parliament and entitled Citizenship of Canada Act, receives royal assent, then section 19 of that act is amended by adding the following after subsection 19(2):

The requirements set out in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) do not apply to a person who ceased to be a Canadian citizen as a result of a parent of that person acquiring the citizenship or nationality of another country before February 15, 1977.

Let me put the intent of the legislation in more fundamental terms. Between 1947 and 1977, thousands of Canadian families left Canada, often in the pursuit of jobs south of the border. In many cases the father had to become an American citizen to get the job. Unbeknownst to many of the families, under the immigration law Canada adopted in 1947, wives and children were considered the property of the fathers. When the fathers renounced their citizenship, their wives and families automatically lost theirs.

The law was changed in Canada in 1977 to recognize dual citizenship, but the new rights were not made retroactive to those who lost their citizenship between 1947 and 1977 through no fault of their own and through no conscious decision of their own. I see this as not only unfair but discriminatory.

A person born in Canada today has the right to citizenship for the rest of his or her life, but there are thousands of older people who are caught in this 1947 to 1977 trap who do not have that same right. I believe it is time to recognize the wrong and make it right. I want to correct this injustice and thus I first introduced the bill in early 2002.

The issue and the injustice were brought to my attention by an individual who spent 30 years struggling to have his Canadian citizenship re-established. In 1961, Don Chapman, a Canadian who was then seven years old, forfeited his Canadian citizenship because his family moved to Seattle and his father took out American citizenship. In 1972, Mr. Chapman began applying to have his Canadian citizenship returned. He was rejected. In 1977, he tried again, only to be turned down. Here we have an individual whose family lineage in Canada goes back to the Fathers of Confederation. In fact, his family goes back five generations in Canada.

Here we have an accomplished and successful individual of impeccable credentials who has purchased a home in my riding, where he would like to settle his family as Canadians, but is deprived of this right because he lost his citizenship prior to 1977 through no fault of his own. He has no criminal record and is even prepared to pay Canadian taxes; that should indicate how serious this man is about having his Canadian citizenship returned.

I would like to add today that I spoke to Mr. Chapman last night. He is an airline pilot. He has been flying 747s and has taken time off his regular job with United Airlines in the last number of weeks to fly into Kuwait, taking soldiers to the war. I wish to congratulate him for doing such a great job and for heroic efforts on behalf of the country he is a citizen of now, but also he wants to be a Canadian. I am very proud that a man like that would want to become a Canadian citizen again.

Mr. Chapman is not alone in this plight. Since I took on this injustice, I have had the opportunity to meet and assist another individual who, through an even more bizarre twist of circumstances and interpretation of our Canadian Citizenship Act, not only lost her citizenship but may not even be a citizen of any country at all. To make matters worse, her two sons find themselves in the same situation despite the fact she, her parents and her sons all live in Canada.

In January of this year, before committee hearings on Bill C-18, Ms. Magali Castro-Gyr provided moving and compelling testimony on the injustice perpetrated on her and others who lost their Canadian citizenship between 1947 and 1977.

Since 2001, Magali spent $20,000 of her own money on lawyers trying to remedy this wrong. Last June her case made it to judicial review but the judge ruled that more precise work had to be done by both sides and she sent them back to their respective sides to prepare further, which, of course, means more legal expenses for Magali. The entire situation is not only unfair, I believe it would even be ruled unconstitutional if it made it to the Supreme Court. It is a shame we are putting people, who are obviously Canadians, through this unnecessary process by asking them to go through the landed status route.

Officials suspect that there are thousands of others caught in the citizenship morass, including another individual, Mr. Charles Bosdet, whose case was also brought to my attention by Mr. Chapman. I worked on this file for five years and made representation to successive ministers of citizenship and immigration on behalf of the grieved parties. I am moved by the passion and desire of these Canadians to return home. It is their diligence in this cause and their love of this country that prompted my intervention and my private member's bill. I believe their case for re-establishment of their Canadian citizenship is legitimate.

In January, following Mr. Chapman's and Ms. Castro-Gyr's testimony before the citizenship committee, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration indicated to me that he was sympathetic to the situation of these individuals and that he would consider using his powers to restore their citizenship. I am grateful for this acknowledgement by the minister and thank him for his consideration of these cases on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. The minister talked to me last Thursday and mentioned that he will be bringing something to the committee, I hope in the next couple of weeks, that could solve this problem.

I appreciate, and I know all members of the House do that maybe, once and for all, we can solve this problem. I remember hearing the Tory Party and I think someone from the government side talking about security checks. We have no problems with that. Issues like that can be discussed at committee. However if the minister brings something to the committee that will solve the problem we will all appreciate it.

Each year Parliament dedicates a week to recognize Canadian citizenship and what it means to be a Canadian citizen. It allows us an opportunity to reflect upon the values of Canadian citizenship and its rights, privileges and responsibilities. During that week all Canadians are asked to reaffirm our commitment and loyalty to Canada. This year will mark the 56th anniversary of the Canadian Citizenship Act. Since 1947 Canada has opened its arms to millions of immigrants and conferred citizenship on over 5 million people. Canada has recognized the talents and diversities these people bring to our nation. Last year's Canada week theme “We all Belong” is fitting testimony to the nature of our country and our people.

I believe the Don Chapmans, the Magali Castro-Gyrs, the Charles Bosdets and the thousands of others, who in my mind never really left the collective soul of this nation, also belong.

I thank all members of Parliament who have listened to this injustice at committee hearings and through the private members' process. We look forward to having a vote and moving this on to committee.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business


Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec


Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak about some very important changes that the government is proposing to the Citizenship Act and to speak to the private member's bill, Bill C-343, which was tabled by the member for Okanagan—Shuswap.

Our proposed Bill C-18 would give applicants, who want to resume their citizenship, flexibility in meeting the residence requirement. What is being proposed is that instead of being required to reside in Canada for a full year prior to application, as is the case in the current legislation, the applicant must be physically present in Canada for one out of the two years preceding application.

We in the governing party believe that it is very important to help people regain citizenship they have lost. From this perspective, we approve of the principles laid out in Bill C-343. They are the same as those found in the current Citizenship Act and in Bill C-18. It is perfectly natural that people who have lost their citizenship, especially if it happened when they were minors, would want to come back to our beautiful country and apply for citizenship. We have nothing against regaining citizenship; we support it. In fact, we believe that people who lost their citizenship when they were a minor and now want to demonstrate their commitment toward Canada by coming here and contributing to our society, should have the opportunity to regain their Canadian citizenship.

However, we cannot support the private member's bill before us today. It would require us to automatically grant citizenship, without taking into account the applicant's place of residence or commitment toward Canada.

Do members know what this would entail? Under Bill C-343, the government could be forced to grant citizenship to a person who left Canada at a young age and who has no intention of returning to live here. It could also force us to grant citizenship automatically, without taking into account whether or not someone has a criminal history, or the danger they could represent to public health here in Canada. And finally, Bill C-343 could require us to automatically grant citizenship to someone who may not have any other ties to Canada except for the circumstances of his or her birth.

I am pleased to report that our current and proposed legislation would allow us to carefully weigh commitment, health and security considerations while also facilitating the citizenship application process. Canada's current Citizenship Act allows former citizens to resume their Canadian citizenship. To qualify under the current Citizenship Act a person must demonstrate a commitment to Canada through residence. They must become a permanent resident under immigration law and must reside in Canada for one year immediately prior to making their citizenship application. Knowledge of Canada, the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship and one official language, however, are not requirements for resumption as they are for a regular adult grant of citizenship. The period of residence is also less; one year as opposed to three. Therefore the requirements are not onerous.

Furthermore, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act allows flexibility for permanent residents to retain their status while travelling and working outside of Canada. The residence requirement may be difficult for a person who must travel out of Canada regularly for employment or business purposes. Most former Canadians wishing to resume citizenship, however, intend to live in Canada and do not encounter difficulty with the requirement to live here for one year. Where a person is required to be away from Canada frequently, the legislation gives that person flexibility by requiring that he or she be present in Canada for 365 days out of two years.

The procedures in place are perfectly fair, and the courts have already confirmed this. We do not discriminate against anyone. By continuing along the course we have already laid out, we are guaranteeing Canadians a citizenship program that is just, effective and fair for many years to come.

I would like to state that the changes or modifications that are being brought to the Canadian Citizenship Act under Bill C-18, as it pertains to re-acquiring Canadian citizenship for those who lost it, particularly as minors, I believe is equitable, is efficient and addresses the fact that these individuals may have lost citizenship through no fault of their own. Therefore, they will not be put to the same requirement as a foreign national who wishes to come to Canada as a permanent resident and then wishes to become a citizen.

The requirements are much less onerous, much more generous and flexible.

Citizenship ActPrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedent on the Order Paper.

The House resumed from April 1, 2003, consideration of the motion that Bill C-13, an act respecting assisted human reproduction, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is like a pregnancy. I wondered whether this would ever happen. We are all aware of the ups and downs this bill has put the House through.

Perhaps I should point out at the outset that the Standing Committee on Health, to which the bill was referred, has worked long and hard on Bill C-13. This is a bill with a history: it was previously introduced as Bill C-47, which died on the order paper, then came back as Bill C-56 in 2000, and we now have Bill C-13, which we are debating.

The Bloc Quebecois has always had concerns about certain prohibited procedures. I am thinking about cloning in particular. In the mid 1990s, the hon. member for Drummond, whose riding is located in the heart of Quebec, put forward a bill to prohibit cloning for reproductive and therapeutic purposes.

This is an aberration, an odd situation brought to the fore by the whole Clonaid episode over the holiday season. Some of our fellow citizens were under the impression that they were protected against any attempt at cloning by a public or private laboratory.

Unfortunately, we had to disillusion them when it became our duty as parliamentarians to explain that, if a public or private laboratory had, indeed, succeeded with human cloning experiments, as the Raelians implied, for example, unfortunately, there were no provisions in the Criminal Code that could have led to any legal action against those who were guilty of genetic manipulation, up to and including human cloning.

Very early in the history of the Bloc Quebecois, the member for Drummond was made aware of this issue. It was because of her sensitivity not only to the cause of women, but also to the entire issue of respect for human life, that she came to present a bill which, as we know, did not have the support of the government.

It was all the more incomprehensible because, in 1989, a royal commission was set up. The Baird commission of course recommended that legislators ban practices like cloning. The royal commission was a very important moment for those who are interested in such issues, because 293 recommendations were made.

We might ask ourselves this question: How is it that there were recommendations and that there was a royal commission? We know that a royal commission is not a trifling matter. It is set up by the Privy Council and its budget is quite substantial. A lot of research was done and scientific studies were carried out. Why is it that we have had the information we need for creating legislation since 1990, and it is not until 2003—13 years later— that the House is going to be asked to vote on this matter?

The government's attitude has definitely been rather lax. There is certainly no cause for satisfaction. This is one more issue on which the Bloc Quebecois has been particularly vigilant.

When I said that the Standing Committee on Health had devoted much time and energy to the issue of assisted human reproduction, it is important to remember that, as early as 1991, the then Minister of Health, now the Minister of Industry, had introduced draft legislation. Even before the official introduction and first reading of a bill by a minister of the Crown, the Standing Committee on Health had been asked to give its views on a number of issues. The bill asked us to validate a certain number of hypotheses with respect to the preamble to a bill like this one and the type of regulations that should be implemented. I will have the opportunity to discuss this later.

The committee considered six possible regulatory models, and selected a semi-autonomous agency, appointed by the Governor in Council. We would have preferred the board to be equally represented by both genders. The government did not retain this recommendation, but the board does have a certain degree of autonomy.

During review of the draft legislation, we were asked to reflect on the whole issue of prohibited and regulated activities, and various mechanisms for accountability that I will have an opportunity to explain shortly. However, Bill C-13 is characterized by the fact that the regulations are more important than the bill itself.

Most of the 26 major decisions about reproduction, manipulation and assisted human reproduction treatments, while covered in the bill, will be set out in the regulations. That is why the committee was strongly advised to ensure that the regulations would be subject to periodic review and would be referred to the Standing Committee on Health. As happened with the bill, public consultations will be held when the committee considers the regulations.

One question greatly concerns the Bloc Quebecois, which we naturally discussed in caucus. The Bloc Quebecois believes it is necessary for the Criminal Code to include provisions criminalizing certain practices. First and foremost, of course, is cloning.

But what is the approach? The Bloc Quebecois in defending the interests of Quebec—which is what brings it here—unfortunately had to oppose this bill at the report stage. Why so? I will explain, because we have received a number of letters and inquiries from the public in this connection.

Although we were in favour of this bill in principle, the Bloc Quebecois cannot vote in favour of such a bill. And why not? Because Bill C-13 intrudes in areas that are fundamentally under the jurisdiction of the provinces.

The Government of Quebec, through its health minister François Legault, has written the federal Minister of Health asking that this bill not be passed, that it not be followed up on in the House of Commons.

A list has been made of all the legislation passed by the National Assembly that is incompatible with Bill C-13. I will have an opportunity to come back to that list but I will touch on it briefly here. There are about a dozen acts, and of course the most important is the Quebec civil code. It contains certain provisions that are incompatible with the issue of surrogacy.

Bill C-13 is also incompatible with the Act respecting health services and social services, as well as with the Act respecting access to documents held by public bodies; the Act respecting the protection of personal information; the Act respecting medical laboratories; Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, including the whole area of confidentiality of some nominative information; the medical code of ethics; the guidelines of the Quebec health research fund, commonly known to people in the field as the FRSQ; not to mention the ministerial action plan on ethics and scientific integrity, which was published by the former member for Vimont on behalf of the Government of Quebec. This is all very disquieting.

Come to think of it, all treatments for infertility take place in laboratories located, naturally, in hospitals, university research centres and, occasionally, in private clinics. The best known such clinic in Quebec is, of course, PROCREA.

Why should the federal government interfere in what basically amounts to the delivery of services in health care facilities that come under the various provincial governments? Naturally, it is doing so through the Criminal Code, because of certain illegal procedures.

If the Canadian government had put before the House of Commons a bill to criminalize only a few procedures, namely the 13 prohibited procedures I will list in a moment, we in the Bloc Quebecois would have voted for such a bill with enthusiasm and our well-known sense of responsibility.

We felt so strongly about this that when we resumed our work here in January, I moved a motion inviting the government and the entire House to split this bill. However, the government rejected this idea, which is why we are now bogged down with this bill. We have been discussing this issue since May 2001. In fact, we have been discussing this topic for several years now. The federal government could have simply prohibited a certain number of procedures.

What is the reality? The member for Trois-Rivières also explained, through a motion that he moved in the House, that the government wants to use health to do some nation building. That is what the Romanow report proposes, naturally, and Bill C-13 is a good example of this. That said, there are still a certain number of important provisions.

Let us start with what are arguably the most important clauses found in the bill, clauses 5, 6 and 9. They render a number of procedures illegal. Therefore, if it can be proven, either before an inspector or a court of justice, anyone who is involved in any of these prohibited procedures could be brought to court under criminal charges by the crown, which could lead to either imprisonment, or a fine of between $200,000 to $500,000. The seriousness of these offences is reflected by these heavy fines.

So, what are these prohibited procedures? Of course, creating a human clone. This is an ethical issue. Incidentally, this bill deals with a variety of considerations, such as ethical and medical considerations, in addition to family law, and of course, administrative considerations as well, all at the same time.

Why is it so important to prohibit human cloning? What is cloning? First, it is a medical procedure where the nucleus is removed from somatic cells. This cell is taken and another nucleus is added, and it is then fertilized. With the help of the maturation process, it is hoped that the cell will have a new nucleus containing new genetic material, which will lead to the birth of a child that has a genetic makeup identical to the genetic makeup of the person from whom the original cell was used. That is cloning.

Cloning was first tried, with mixed results, on animals. I say with mixed results because the committee was told that the consequences for cloned animals, naturally, were extremely serious, the most immediate being premature aging and, of course, premature death. So, no animals have been successfully cloned, and this, obviously, does not encourage us to try human cloning.

But there is an ethical side to cloning. No one wants to live in a society where, in the name of humankind, we can biologically bring about the creation of two humans with identical genes. No one wants that.

I saw public affairs shows on TQS, for example, where the Raelians said, “Yes, but there are twin brothers”. Of course, there are identical twins. This is a natural phenomenon. It is called homozygotic embryos. I have an identical twin brother myself. This makes some people happy and some sad, each of us is entitled to our own opinion, but the fact remains that this was not forced on nature. It is a natural phenomenon. Some people say that there is really no such thing as identical twin brothers, because life, through our personality, ensures that each of us is very different. For example, my twin is heterosexual; I, as you know, am not. We are pretty much alike in our sense of humour. But we are very different in every other respect.

My twin brother is greatly interested in sport and a little less intellectually inclined than I. We do, however, share a similarly refined sense of humour.

It is not true, then, that identical twins with the same genetic baggage, homozygotic twins that started out from a single cell, from a single egg, are alike in every aspect.

The question raised by human cloning is what it will mean for psychogenesis, the psychological development of the child. How can a parent raise a child knowing he or she is the duplicate of the parent, knowing they are genetically identical? Scientists came to testify that, on the psychological level, at every stage of personal development, this poses a risk for human development. This is prohibited by the bill as a result.

The second procedure that is prohibited in the bill is the creation of an embryo in vitro for purposes other than the creation of a human being. We would not want to live in a society where embryos were created solely for research purposes.

This does not mean—and I will have an opportunity to explain further when we reach the clauses on regulated activities—that if there are surplus embryos as part of the initial activity of fertilization, for example if four are created, that a person cannot donate them for research purposes with informed consent.

Research on embryos is definitely necessary, but the bill says that a person could not turn up and announce that he wanted to use medicine to create an embryo solely for research purposes. This is prohibited in the bill.

An embryo cannot be created and then maintained outside of a woman's body, i.e. in vitro, for more than 14 days. The basis for this is that the main international conventions state that the nervous system begins development on the 15th day and it can then be dangerous to keep an embryo outside a woman's body. This is prohibited.

There is another important prohibition that is also related to ethical considerations. It is forbidden to use sperm screening and selection to choose a child's sex. A father cannot announce that he wants a girl, or a mother announce that she wants a boy, and then make use of medical and genetic means in order to ensure that this happens.

Why is this prohibited? It is prohibited based on the values found in both the Quebec and Canadian charters. The first of these values that govern the legal and human community is the equality of individuals. We do not start from the pretext that women are superior to men or that men are superior to women. Given that there is no such superiority, it does not make sense that the bill would contain mechanisms that would officially allow people to choose the sex of a child. That is why it is prohibited.

There is also an important prohibition that bans any alterations to the germ line. The germ line refers to hereditary characteristics that are passed down from one generation to the next, or that skip one generation, in the case of certain deadly diseases that we know of.

We do not want to live in a society where people can have their children tailor-made. It should not be possible to say, “I want the genetic tools that will allow me to have a blond girl with blue eyes, who will be a good painter, or artist, or ballet-jazz dancer”. Accordingly, the bill stipulates that it will not be possible to have tailor-made children, nor will it be possible to select hereditary traits by altering the germ line.

Obviously—plain common sense dictates this—transplanting sperm or ova into another form of life, other than human, will be prohibited. Implanting human reproductive material that has already been transplanted into another form of life is prohibited. This is known as the creation of hybrids, or chimera, and it is clearly prohibited in this bill.

Another prohibited procedure that attracted a great deal of attention in Quebec is surrogacy, or surrogate motherhood. This reminds us that this bill is designed to deal with an empirically observed situation: one out of every five couples experiences fertility problems. This situation is not expected to improve in the near future. Often, environmental factors cause hormonal imbalances that may affect the ability to procreate.

Some people say we should live in a society where a couple can ask a woman with no fertility problems to bear a child.

A number of nuances or clarifications could be made on the issue of surrogacy. Let me make the following. We have been told that a surrogate mother artificially inseminated with sperm from the father who hired her is called a genetic surrogate. A surrogate mother could also carry an embryo created through IVF using the hiring couple's gametes. In this instance, the surrogate mother is making her uterus available, but there is no genetic contribution.

So, surrogacy poses quite a complex ethical problem, because one might think that women own the children to which they give birth. They do not. Pregnancy has to be an altruistic act. Women who bring children into the world with their spouse must do so, whether it was planned or not, because of their desire as a couple to raise a family.

There are therefore major inconsistencies between the bill and the civil code. Even if these were the only inconsistencies, the Bloc Quebecois would have to vote against the bill. There are, however, many more, which I will point out.

In this respect, a provision was included in the civil code of Quebec a few years ago. If I am not mistaken, it is section 541. It provides that agreements for surrogacy for payment are null and void. This means that, in Quebec, under the civil code, if I ask a woman to bear a child for me, I will have absolutely no right in the unborn child. As far as the mother who bore the child is concerned, the regular lineage rights—the parental authority, and all that it means for a mother to have responsibility for a child—apply.

This is where we find out how well I know the civil code. I would be willing to bet that it is article 541, just after the provisions on adoption, which says that agreements regarding surrogate mothers are absolutely null. I will read the passage in question:

Any agreement whereby a woman undertakes to procreate or carry a child for another person is absolutely null.

That is article 541 of the civil code. The lawmakers of Quebec did not wait for Bill C-13 to be passed; they put these provisions in the civil code.

But now we see that Bill C-13, in clauses 6 and 12, says there are certain situations in which surrogate mothers can be reimbursed. That is quite sad. I do not know how we are going to settle this before the courts. Will it be the civil code or Bill C-13 that prevails?

Bill C-13 says two things. It says that it will be possible to recognize surrogate mothers who do this as an altruistic gesture. But is it not strange to see written in a bill that it will be possible for a woman to carry a child for someone else? Might that not make us think that children are perceived as a kind of property and that women are the owners of children? Should we not be seeking other ways to respond to people with fertility problems? Of course, reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, are one such way.

Research is needed into the causes of infertility related to the endocrine system. Domestic or international adoption is also a solution. It is, therefore, somewhat aberrant that we find ourselves with such a bill in 2003.

The Bloc Quebecois held its convention this past weekend, and it was a great moment for democracy, Mr. Speaker. We missed you a bit, but you can always come next time. We discussed all these issues in workshops.

One of the great specialists in Quebec, Professor Louise Vandelac—whom you may have heard of— is very well known internationally. Although she has also researched GMOs, her main concern is the life sciences. She told us, “It is incredible that such a thing could be happening in 2003” and added, “in the country of Margaret Atwood”, referring to the English Canadian novelist and writer. She continued, “How can English Canada, the Government of Canada, turn up in 2003 with Bill C-13 in which it is acknowledged that a woman has the right to call upon another woman to bear a child for her?” This does not, of course, make any sense.

It does not stop there, however, Despite the fact that the Quebec has adopted as part of its civil code—in the mid-80s if I remember correctly—the section I have read, section 541, still clause 12 of this bill opens up the possibility of reimbursing surrogate mothers for altruistic purposes. It is true that this bill—and I must be honest about this so that those listening to us will not be misled—says that payment for surrogate motherhood is totally forbidden, that is if someone wanted to pay another to have a child.

This is one of the 12 procedures I have referred to which can lead to prosecution and to imprisonment or a fine of $500,000. Nevertheless, it is possible to bear children for others and the federal government will recognize surrogate motherhood agreements. Clause 10 even contains provisions for certain expenses of surrogate mothers to be met.

So, hon. members will see the incompatibility here, the value choices. Ethical decisions have been made by the National Assembly, but will not, unfortunately, be respected by the Canadian Parliament.

This whole issue of surrogacy is a very serious one. Once again, I have no idea how this will be settled by the courts. We had hoped that the federal government would not get involved and that the provinces would be in charge, as is already the case in Quebec.

This pretty well covers the issue of surrogacy agreements, the importance of which is well known. I think I have also demonstrated how these do not comply with the civil code of Quebec.

I thought I had a good half hour remaining, seeing that I have barely started my speech, but I will come back to that in due course, because I am getting the signal that I have only 10 minutes left.

The bill addresses the whole issue of controlled activities. No one is saying that there should be no research on embryos or infertility. The agency that will be established will receive $10 million a year and bring together individuals who, we hope, will not only have expertise but also reflect a range of backgrounds, to include not only members of the scientific community but also users. The agency will issue licences for research. Researchers who demonstrate that a need exists, that research cannot be conducted using existing reproductive material, and that the research is validated by an ethics committee and based on a serious protocol, will qualify for a licence.

This opens the door to the use of stem cells. That is why our colleagues from the Canadian Alliance have been opposed to this bill all along.

What are stem cells? The embryo sac, which is created a few hours after conception, contains stem cells. Researchers do not agree on the number of them. Some American researchers say that there a hundred or so, and Canadian researchers say that it is more like 300. For the purposes of my speech, we will say that there are between 100 and 300 of these stem cells. These cells have not decided what their future holds and they are able to contribute to the rebirth or regeneration of any tissue, whether it be tissues found in the heart, arm, or anywhere in the entire body.

This is extremely valuable, and unlike adult stem cells, they are not in blood, or produced in bone marrow, but are found in the embryo sac. As a result, they are easy to extract, and they can obviously be used to help people with major degenerative disorders. We have heard about Alzheimer's, cerebral palsy, juvenile diabetes and other diseases.

This is why big associations that do fundraising for this type of research explained how important it is that this bill contain regulated activities to allow for this type of research. Carrying out this type of research that uses stem cells destroys embryos.

Depending on how one defines a human being, some people say that by destroying embryos, you are committing a crime against humanity, that the embryo is a potential human being. I respect this point of view, but I do not share it. The Supreme Court clearly established that a human being is a fetus once it is outside the mother's body and has taken its first breath.

People will recall that there were a number of legal challenges on this. It might have been nice if it were legislators who had made the decision, but the abortion bill introduced by the Conservatives ended up being unique in terms of our legislative work. In fact, in the Senate, the other house, there was a tie vote. It was referred to this House. There was no conclusive vote, and there was a legal vacuum until the Supreme Court issued a judgment and ruled that an embryo was not a human being.

To be logical, from a legal point of view, if an embryo is not a human being, then we cannot, as legislators, consider any of its constituent material as a human being. That is why I was in agreement. It is not the part of the bill that I am most concerned about. Of course, that will not stop me from supporting ethical issues. I believe stem cell research must carry on, because it is important to make life better for the people who are suffering from degenerative diseases.

I have mentioned the 12 prohibited activities. The controlled activities are specified in clauses 10, 11 and 12. They would include research on embryos or reproductive material in accordance with the regulations and a licence. Any research carried out without the proper licence would be in violation of clauses 5, 6 and 9, which I referred to earlier.

Among the issues raised during our work was the type of donations that could be made. As I said, with this bill, we want to meet the needs of those with fertility problems, which affect one out of every five couples. People with fertility problems may want to go for treatment, either insemination or in vitro fertilization. For this to happen, donors have to go to a hospital or to some institution authorized to receive their donations. I am talking, of course, about the people who donate sperm or ova, what is called gametes. Interestingly enough, there is a shortage of sperm in English Canada. The sperm banks are empty.

As for Quebec, for perhaps other more sociological reasons and also because the regulations are not quite identical, there are fewer difficulties in ensuring a supply of sperm.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, sperm donors cannot be older than 40. This has excluded you for quite some time. At the same time, sperm donors must undergo all kinds of medical tests. The sperm is tested for genetic defects or disease. Obviously, some very important tests need to be done.

The committee asked itself the following question: if you are a donor and you go to a hospital or clinic, would you be required to reveal your identity? If you are going to donate sperm, must you identify yourself? Currently, donations are anonymous.

The parliamentary secretary will remember that many people made representations, including children born as a result of assisted reproduction, from anonymous sperm donations, and they said, “This is called the right to know who you are”.

For human development, it is not desirable, they told us, to not know who the donor is. I was moved by one individual who testified that when she was in grade five in a public school in English Canada, her teacher asked all the students in the class to do their family tree. You know the drill. Our family tree allows us to discover our ancestors and understand who we came from. This is obviously important to the formation of our identity. This person, born as a result of an anonymous donation, told us what a wall she had run up against, how she felt as if she had come from nowhere, how important it was to her for donations to be anonymous but not the identity of donors.

The opposing opinion says that, in donating sperm or eggs, the donors are not making any attempt to raise a child nor any attempt to raise a family. Those who oppose identity disclosure for donors said, “Yes, but is there not a risk if I donate sperm and the child born is viable, when that child reaches 16, 17 or 18 he will seek financial support from me as the genetic father and donor”.

People were worried about that. That point of view prevailed, so thoroughly that, according to the bill now before us, the regulatory agency must gather information on donors. Of course, it must gather identity data, and other information in order to maintain records, but it is not mandatory to divulge the identity of the donor.

Naturally, this has created discontent and disappointment, but there is a way to solve the problem. Quebec has solved it, as have Nova Scotia and Yukon. Thus, there are three legislatures where laws have been passed and the laws contain provisions that, in the case of children born through medically assisted reproduction, donors can never be considered genetic fathers having parental responsibilities. Three provinces have done this. Obviously, it lies within the area of family law. It is not up to the federal government to create such legislation, but this could have been done.

So, that is a question that has been asked. The systems created in some countries make it mandatory to divulge identities. I can think of Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and Austria, among others.

Mr. Speaker, I think my time is running out, but because of the importance of this debate, and in consideration of the excellent work I did in committee, could you please ask for unanimous consent to allow me 10 minutes more to complete my speech. I will not take advantage of this, but I would then feel we had addressed the issue completely.

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12:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

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12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


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12:45 p.m.

Some hon. members


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Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a somewhat surprising attitude. I will conclude by talking about regulations, given that I am not welcome to speak in this House.

The 26-point regulations are very important, even more important than the act itself. I want to reassure those listening, who may think that the regulations will be made and published in the Canada Gazette without prior scrutiny by the lawmaker. The bill does provide that the minister lay the proposed regulations before a committee. Public consultations will be held. Then, we will report back on these regulations. This way, all those concerned will get a chance to express their views.

I am sorry that I was unable to deal with the bill in greater detail, but there will be other opportunities.

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Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, considering the complexity of the issues, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to extend my speaking time by 10 minutes.

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The Deputy Speaker

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

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Some hon. members


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Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank all hon. colleagues for the opportunity to provide my input on Bill C-13.

Bill C-13, an act respecting assisted human reproductive technologies and related research, is an omnibus bill. As members know, an omnibus bill affects many bills and attempts to do so much that everyone can find something that they do not like in the bill. As well, omnibus bills are often used to get through the back door what one cannot get through the front door. This is the case with Bill C-13.

Bill C-13 was intended to prohibit--and I stress intended to prohibit--cloning and other unethical reproductive activity, to regulate fertility clinics and to regulate biomedical research. The bill falls short of meeting those objectives and I intend to lay out the facts for all members to consider.

Based on expert opinion, Bill C-13, despite the report stage motion that was passed, still does not ban all forms of cloning. Let me repeat that Bill C-13 still does not ban all forms of human cloning.

There are numerous techniques of cloning, such as somatic cell nuclear transfer which is reportedly the technique that was used by the Raelians, also parthenogenesis, germline cell nuclear transfer and many others. Cloning is not just one thing; it is a range of techniques all leading to the same thing.

Precise definitions are very important in the bill but they were handled very poorly according to numerous witnesses.

Dr. Ronald Worton is the chief executive officer of the Ottawa Health Research Institute. He is also the scientific director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network. He testified before the Standing Committee on Health that from a scientific perspective, many of the definitions in Bill C-13 were either incorrect or problematic. Dr. Worton is likely going to become a Nobel laureate for his research in health. His work is much respected in Canada and certainly by the health committee.

Others have also raised the same concern. In a submission to the committee, Dr. Dianne Irving, a research biochemist and biologist, detailed how contradictory and erroneous scientific definitions in the bill would not even prohibit all forms of human cloning.

If Bill C-13 is to achieve anything, it must ban all forms of cloning, all manners and all techniques and it does not.

Clause 5 of the bill states:

No person shall knowingly create a human clone or transplant a human clone into a human being.

On its face this is clear; one cannot create a human clone. Most people think that a human clone is a born child. They think of what the Raelians did. They birthed a child. That is a human clone.

In the bill a human clone is not a born person. Obviously if the bill says a human clone is a born child, one would not transplant it into a human being. Therefore it must not be a born person. In fact the bill defines human clone. It is defined as an embryo. A human clone is actually 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.

Now we can appreciate how confusing this is, but why is it confusing in the bill? Members have to ask themselves, why are the definitions so confusing? Why is the prohibition so confusing? Why are there so many gymnastics? Why can it not just outright state, no cloning by any means, any techniques? There is a reason.

The term “human being” is frequently used but is not defined in the bill. The usage verifies that it is referring to a born human being and the minister has confirmed this fact. She indicated that the definition being used comes from case law, from the laws of Canada, and means that it is a child completely emerged from the womb.

Dr. Irving has noted that that definition of human clone is flawed and would not cover certain types of cloning, including pronuclei transfer, formation of chimeras and back breeding, mitochondria transfer or DNA recombinant germline transfer also referred to as eugenics.

I am not an expert but I have looked up the terms. They exist and I accept the word of expert testimony that these are forms of cloning and these forms of cloning are not prohibited by this bill.

The deficiencies in drafting the bill also get worse. In clause 5(1)(c) the bill states:

No person shall knowingly

for the purpose of creating a human being, create an embryo from a cell or part of a cell taken from an embryo or foetus or transplant an embryo so created into a human being;

That is a difficult clause to understand but the problematic phrase in the clause is “for the purpose of creating a human being”. One is prohibited from doing that if the purpose is to create a human being. What happens if the purpose is not to create a human being? What happens if the purpose is to just do research? All of a sudden, if someone's purpose as a researcher is simply to create this embryo for research purposes, then the bill does not ban that activity.

On a prima facie case this is absolutely clear. Bill C-13 does not ban all forms of cloning. Nor does it prohibit unauthorized research on human embryos. This would allow cloned human embryos to be implanted in the uterus at the embryonic stage and then be harvested for research at any time from the embryonic period through the ninth month of gestation, anytime during the pregnancy of a woman. Not only could researchers get stem cells from that unborn child, they could also harvest organs from that unborn child. Now we are getting serious. This is not just simply a matter of cloning; this is a matter of using human beings and all their parts for research.

The faulty crafting of this clause is extremely dangerous, not only because it permits cloning but it also allows unborn children to be butchered for their parts. This is very technical and complex. That is why it is so important that expert testimony be obtained and why Health Canada must answer all the questions posed by members, and they have not.

Members of Parliament cannot be experts in all things. Therefore, we rely on credible evidence and comprehensive answers to the questions that we have asked. Members should know that despite the cautions of Dr. Worton and Dr. Irving, neither of them had the opportunity nor were they asked subsequently to appear before the health committee to present those concerns in detail. Why, when experts raise problems and concerns with either problematic or incorrect definitions, would the committee or Health Canada not address those concerns with experts?

Furthermore, the Minister of Health herself never appeared before the Standing Committee on Health to answer questions or defend Bill C-13 or to undertake to provide the committee with a response from her department to the very serious deficiencies noted by numerous experts. Why? That is the question.

To summarize, Bill C-13 does not ban all forms of human cloning and in its current form would permit research on unborn children as long as they were harvested before birth. These are fatal flaws in Bill C-13.

I want to move on to comment on the creation of in vitro human embryos. Bill C-13 seeks to prohibit the creation of a human embryo for any purpose other than creating a human being. In other words, if it is for the purpose of reproduction, that is fine. For other purposes, it will not be permitted unless one can get a licence from an agency.

We should note that the fertility industry habitually harvests more eggs from women and creates more human embryos than are reasonably necessary for in vitro fertilization. Women can be drugged to the max, and they are based on expert testimony before the committee, and a fertility clinic can harvest up to 25 eggs. However they only need three to five eggs for the first fertility treatment under IVF. All those eggs would be fertilized and those that are not necessary for the first attempt at IVF would be frozen, and I will comment on that in a while. The point is, in vitro fertilization as part of the normal course of its operation does create surplus embryos.

The minister rationalizes that research on embryos should be permitted since these human embryos are no longer required for reproductive purposes and they will just be thrown in the garbage. That was her response to the press when she tabled the bill on May 9 of last year. The Minister of Health said to go ahead and use them for research if they were only going to be thrown in the garbage. This is appalling. One would have thought that if surplus human embryos were being created, the appropriate response for any Minister of Health should be, “How do we reduce or eliminate the creation of surplus embryos?” Should it not be to fix the problem rather than to take advantage of the problem?

The fundamental principle of the bill is that human embryos can only be created for the purpose of creating a human being. Yet what we are saying is that if there happens to be some left over, let us use them for research anyway because otherwise they will be thrown in the garbage.

Dr. Françoise Baylis has been very important in this process. She is a professor of medicine and philosophy at Dalhousie University and is vice chair of the board of governors of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In her testimony before the Standing Committee on Health, Dr. Baylis said:

The first thing to recognize in the legislation and in all of your conversations is that embryos are human beings. That is an uncontested biological fact. They are a member of the human species.

Bill C-13 disputes the biological facts. To accept the fact that a human embryo is a human being would make it illegal to destroy human embryos for research even if those embryos were no longer needed for fertility treatments.

I understand that this is a very delicate issue because we are talking about when life begins. Human embryos are human beings and are entitled to the protection and dignity afforded to all human beings. Furthermore, human beings do die and when they do, we do not throw them in the garbage. How absurd. We put them to rest in an appropriate and dignified manner. I know that the medical community has established appropriate guidelines for when a human being dies and for its appropriate and dignified disposition. The medical community would never say to just throw them in the garbage.

Researchers want these embryos because they want stem cells within the embryos. We know that. They hope that these stem cells may one day be useful in treating illnesses. However stem cells from embryos have shown a tendency to spontaneously create tumours and other unintended cells. In addition, they do not have the same DNA as the prospective patient and therefore they are subject to immune rejection and would require lifelong anti-rejection drugs. This is good news for the pharmaceutical industry but it is very bad news for the human embryo and those who acknowledge the biological fact that human embryos are human beings.

One of the primary principles of medical ethics is that if the scientifically possible is in conflict with the ethically unacceptable, the ethical view must prevail. Our responsibilities as members of Parliament is to therefore ensure that human beings, at any stage, must never be used for biomedical research because there are ethical alternatives.

The situation with surplus embryos actually is much worse than the public really understands. If a fertility clinic drugs a woman to the maximum, as I have said, and harvests 25 eggs, only three to five of those actually will be necessary for in vitro fertilization. The remaining 20 embryos would be cryogenically frozen and thawed as needed for future attempts as necessary. However, and this is an important point, 50% of frozen embryos do not survive the thawing process. That means that of the remaining 25 embryos that are cryogenically frozen and thawed for future use, 10 of them will be destroyed. They will die simply because the cryogenic freezing process is unacceptable.

This is a tragically low threshold of success for any medical procedure, and we can and should do better. How can we tolerate the destruction of so many human beings as part of a process that itself is attempting to create human beings? There is a grave contradiction here.

There are other alternative approaches to these problems. If there are surplus embryos, medical research communities should be working to perfect the techniques to eliminate or reduce the creation of surplus embryos. Medical research should concentrate its efforts on perfecting the process to store the eggs that are harvested from women, not the fertilized eggs but the eggs from women, and only fertilize those that are necessary for reproductive purposes. That process is now under intensive research outside of Canada. I am not sure what is happening inside of Canada. When it is perfected, there will be no surplus embryos.

At this time the research community has developed an in vitro fertilization process that habitually produces surplus embryos, which are in turn used for their own research. Research is supplying itself using IVF as the delivery point. This is a conflict of interest, and in the extreme. We as legislators have a responsibility to correct this unacceptable situation.

Another alternative is to permit the adoption of surplus embryos by other infertile couples. This is no different than adopting a born child. In the United States there is a program that is doing just that. It is called the snowflake program and it has been very successful. If this bill were truly intended to assist the infertile, why has Health Canada rejected this viable and successful program, a program that would make use of any surplus embryos.

Today in Canada there are approximately 24 fertility clinics and many of these are private for profit companies. As such, we do not really know how many surplus embryos are presently in storage nor how many would have received informed consent to be donated for research purposes. However Dr. Baylis has done an informal survey and she estimates that there are about 500 embryos frozen in Canada, in total. Of those, half are necessary for future IVF treatments. That means there are 250 that may be available for research purposes.

As I indicated, half of these will die while thawing. Of the 250, 125 will die while thawing. Therefore, we are down to 125. Then Dr. Baylis goes on to explain that of those 125, only 9 of the frozen embryos when thawed would actually be able to produce a viable stem cell line. Of the 9, only 5 of them would be of a standard that would meet the quality requirements of researchers. Think it out. Only 5 out of 250 embryos that are thawed would actually be useful. That is 2%. In other words, 100 human beings would be destroyed to obtain 2 useful stem cell lines, which may be able to be used to find cures and therapies to assist other human beings. This makes no sense at all.

One would think that Health Canada would have determined whether there were sufficient embryos to sustain meaningful research in advance of preparing this bill to regulate research and fertility clinics. Why has it not? I know Dr. Baylis is looking for funding to do a formal survey but we do not know what is happening in fertility clinics. We do not know what is happening out there today. How can we have legislation to regulate fertility clinics? These are the same fertility clinics that refused to appear before the health committee to disclose how they operated their businesses. This is awful. I cannot understand how that happened.

There is also another ethical alternative to destroying embryos to obtain those stem cells. Stem cells actually occur naturally in every organ of the human body. Last year Dr. Catherine Verfaillie published verified research that stem cells from bone marrow could become virtually any cell in the human body. This means that stem cells from a person's own body could be taken and used to repair damaged cells elsewhere in that person's body. That means that there is no ethical controversy, no immune rejection problem, no need for lifelong anti-rejection drugs and no concern about the spontaneous creation of tumours.

Why is it that the researchers are so anxious to have stem cells taken from embryos despite the ethical controversy and all the other problems, such as immune rejection? There is an answer and we heard it. I know a couple of members were there at the same meeting.

The bold and the true answer came from Dr. François Pothier, who has a Ph.D. in cellular biology and is a professor at Laval University. On February 5, 2003, while addressing a round table on assisted human reproduction, sponsored by the Friendship Group of Parliamentarians for UNESCO he answered the following question: Why do we want embryonic stem cells? Why are we shunning adult stem cells? His answer was “There is no money in adult stem cell research”.

That is the answer that everyone has been waiting for. Why do we want embryonic stem cells? It will cause all kinds of interesting scenarios for commercialization, drug use and all kinds of opportunities for people to make money. According to Dr. Pothier, and I believe this sincerely, the reason we do not concentrate on research using adult stem cells is that there is no money in adult stem cell research.

If one's own stem cells could be used to treat themselves, the prospect for patenting and commercialization would be diminished. Drug companies would also have less incentive to provide research funding. If research was unlikely to lead to increased need for the drugs why would they? One can only conclude that the bill really is about money.

We know that researchers migrate to money and have shown only a secondary interest in the ethics of research. I have tried to move a motion at report stage to include amendments to the Patent Act to guide the patentability of biomedical research. I was ruled out of order because Health Canada said that it was beyond the scope of the bill.

On the contrary, patenting of such research would likely reduce research done in Canada because the cost of patented techniques would be prohibitive for other researchers to use.

If patenting of biomedical research is allowed, the amount of effective, meaningful research in Canada will actually go down.

With regard to biomedical research, Bill C-13 would establish the assisted human reproduction agency of Canada. It would have the authority to issue a licence to authorize the use of human embryos for the purpose of research only if it is satisfied that the use is necessary for the purpose of the proposed research. The word “necessary” is the key.

In the opinion of the Standing Committee on Health, the criteria for what constituted necessary must be laid out. As a starting point, the following is what was recommended in the health committee' report: Even if all other regulatory criteria are met, no licence may be issued unless the applicant clearly demonstrates that no other category of biological material could be used for the purposes of the proposed research.

In other words, embryonic stem cells cannot be used if there is another ethical alternative. It is a good compromise I think for most but Health Canada rejected the recommendation of the committee and emphatically refused to define the term “necessary” in the legislation.

It is hard to believe that there are no criteria in the bill to guide this agency that would authorize and licence the research. Something might be buried in the regulations but I will talk about that later.

One would think that if research proposed has already been done then a licence should not be issued. If there are other ethical means to achieve the research, then a licence should not be issued in that case either. It simply does not make sense not to articulate the fundamental principles that should guide the agency.

Health Canada appears to be totally dependent upon the research industry. In fact, we all know it was the research industry that developed Bill C-13. The research industry, right back from the royal commission, right through the CIHR and all the iterations of the bill, the research community was the driver of what is in the bill. My sincere belief is that Health Canada went along for the ride.

The Standing Committee on Health spent two years studying the draft bill and Bill C-13. It received hundreds of submissions and heard from over 200 witnesses. I was very impressed with the quality of work that was done by the committee. In fact, the report on the draft bill was the best report I had ever seen.

After due consideration, however, the committee made only three substantive amendments. The first was that 50% of the board of directors of the agency should be women. The second was to ensure that people wanting IVF treatment would receive counselling and independent advice. The third was that the conflict of interest provisions in the bill would be broadened so that pharmaceutical and biotech companies could not be on the board of directors.

Those were very reasonable amendments and yet Health Canada rejected every one of them and put in report stage motions to reverse them. As a result of two years of work done by committee and after all the witnesses who appeared before it, there is nothing substantive in the bill, and that is a shame. I honestly believe the bill would have been better with many of the committee's recommendations.

This is a very troubling situation and it should raise caution levels of all members with regard to the credibility of Bill C-13. When ministers, the staff and the bureaucrats in all departments ignore the work and recommendations of standing committees and ignore the questions and suggestions of members of Parliament, the bill in question develops an opposition. If hon. members do not receive satisfactory explanations to their concerns or answers to their questions how can we say that we have discharged our responsibilities?

I believe members have been misled by the hype and rhetoric surrounding Bill C-13. The bill already has serious deficiencies and more will come out when questions are answered. In my view, the bill cannot be fixed in its present form. As the member for Hochelaga--Maisonneuve suggested, its deficiencies would be better addressed by a split bill, one dealing with prohibited activities and the other dealing with regulating research. The minister still has that option.

The bill also has other notable problems and I will deal with them quickly. The bill would prohibit the creation of a chimera. However a chimera, as defined in the bill, is the combining of animal and human, but it would prohibit the transplantation of non-human material into humans. It would not do the reverse. The bill would permit the transplantation of human reproductive material into non-human life forms, and the minister has said that this is necessary research. I do not buy that.

The bill would not permit the creation of a hybrid for the purpose of reproduction. However if the purpose of the research is in fact to do research, then hybrids would be permitted because they would not be used for reproduction but for research.

With regard to conflict of interest, as I have already indicated, the bill presently says that pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies can be on the board of directors. Why not? It is a conflict to the extreme. The bill would not require board members to file conflict of interest statements. Health Canada said that it would be too inconvenient for someone who was not paid very much and because part time appointees are less likely to have a conflict. This is faulty logic.

The bill would not prescribe transitional provisions relating to frozen embryos that existed prior to the bill coming into force but it should. It is very important. There are 500 embryos out there. How do we deal with them?

The bill would not require all fertility clinics to use the same application or information disclosures? Why not? It was recommended at report stage. Would consistent documentation, forms, disclosures and consent, et cetera, not make some sense?

The bill does not prescribe limits on the amount of drugs that can be administered to women and other limits that can affect women's health. Why would we not do that since this is a women's health bill?

There is very substantial policy in the regulations. Although members can have an opportunity to review the regulations, the bill goes on to say that members will only be able to comment. In other words, parliamentarians will not get an opportunity to approve or reject regulations to the bill, and most of the details of the bill are buried in the regulations. We will not see that until two years after royal assent. Parliament has a problem.

The bill would permit the use of surplus embryos for the purpose of education but it has no rules. As the member for the Bloc mentioned, it would provide surrogacy for profit and reimbursement of employment income. Those things were rejected right from the royal commission all the way down the line, and it was sprung on the House at the last minute. That must change.

If we were to defeat the bill, fix it and reintroduce two improved bills, one on prohibitive activities and one on controlled activities, they would result in earlier enforcement than if we proceed with Bill C-13 as it is now. A bill on prohibitive activities would pass at all stages very quickly and would be in force immediately, which is what Canadians want to see.

The other two are more problematic and that is what is delaying this whole process. I think we have to do some serious thinking about this.

The bill attempts to address reproductive technologies but it does so very poorly. It also touches on the very delicate, ethical and moral issues related to the sanctity of human life. For this reason a vote on this bill is a matter of conscience. I personally do not condone the destruction of human beings for research purposes under any circumstances. Consequently, I will be voting against Bill C-13.

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Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity to thank my hon. colleague on the government side for all the hard work he has done to not only educate the members of the House but, indeed, the Canadian population on the seriousness of this issue.

I, like my colleague, cannot vote in favour of the bill for many reasons, one being that nowhere in the legislation does it allow the offspring of someone who has been created by in vitro fertilization to actually know the name and history of the father or mother. It is usually the father, of course. A constituent in my riding, Olivia Pratten, has lobbied long and hard to get this included in the legislation. She is 20 years of age at the moment and would like to know something about her father. She has no recourse within the legislation to ever know anything about her father.

I do not know whether my hon. colleague knows this, but my understanding is that there will be a court challenge to this part of the law should Bill C-13 pass and that it is planned to take this as far as the Supreme Court of Canada to right the wrong that is in this very flawed legislation.

I wonder if my hon. colleague could comment on that and comment on the kind of cost this would be to people's lives and to taxpayers as they have to take these things through the courts to change a bad law.

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Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right, there is a provision in the bill with regard to the anonymity of a donor.

The bill does provide that a person who was born by these reproductive techniques will be able to know details about the health, et cetera, if there is any predisposition of the donors. What it does not permit though is disclosure of the name of that person. It is not all one way or the other, but the actual identity of that person cannot be known unless the donor gives his or her consent. That is the problem to which the member relates.

I can assure him that the Standing Committee on Health was very supportive of opening up the anonymity so that on the request of the children born of these techniques, they could find out who their father was. I think this is parallel to the situation we see so often with regard to adopted children, that they need to know who their parents are.

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Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I also commend the member for Mississauga South who I know has worked probably more than anyone in the House on this particular bill and is more knowledgeable on most aspects of the bill than anyone.

In his discussion today I did not hear a lot of discussion about surrogacy. We know the committee was very concerned about the commercialization in surrogacy. There are some 54,000 websites, mostly in the United States, advertising surrogacy and promoting various attributes. It basically boils down to the selling of women's bodies for commercial purposes. They get a higher price if they can produce twins or if there are multiple successful pregnancies and so on. Would the member like to express his views on this subject?