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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was section.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Liberal MP for Scarborough Southwest (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fisheries March 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being able to take part in this discussion at private members' hour. I want to remind the House that we are talking about the motion by the hon. member for St. John's West:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should take immediate action to extend custodial management over the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and of the Flemish Cap.

The reason I am rising today to discuss this matter is my involvement in the fisheries and oceans committee of the House. This particular matter has been of great interest to the fisheries and oceans committee for over two years.

On June 5, 2002, the fisheries and oceans committee tabled a report entitled “Foreign Overfishing: Its Impacts and Solutions, Conservation on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap”, under the able chairmanship of the hon. member for Malpeque.

The report was the result of some significant work that the committee did. I was on that committee. We travelled to Newfoundland and Labrador to listen to the people of that province talk about the difficulties they had with the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization and what it was or was not doing.

It is a lengthy report in the sense that it details a lot of the problems, but what I want to bring to the attention of the House is that the committee unanimously recommended certain things. This is important, because at that time there were five parties that had members on the committee and this was a unanimous report of the committee.

What did it recommend? The committee recommended custodial management. On page 18, the report states:

Under a custodial management regime, Canada would assume sole responsibility for the management and conservation of the areas of our continental shelf beyond the 200-mile limit: the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap. However, foreign fishing interests would not be removed; instead, historic allocation and access would be respected.

...Under such a regime, Canada would conduct the science, set the [total allowable catches] and implement and administer a conservation-based management system that would include monitoring and enforcement.

...The Committee believes that imposing a custodial management regime is a necessary and reasonable response to the failure of NAFO to rectify its current problems and to bring its members under control.

Recommendations were made accordingly. Almost immediately, the then minister of fisheries and oceans rejected out of hand the recommendations of the committee. This was unfortunate, because it did not indicate that there had been any serious study of the recommendations of the committee and of why that committee unanimously came to the conclusions it did.

Eventually the member for Malpeque was promoted to solicitor general and a new committee was constituted. I became the chair of the committee. The committee revisited this issue after it received the formal response of the government, which the committee felt was totally and utterly inadequate. We re-examined the issue and, again unanimously, five parties came to the same conclusions that we had come to earlier.

We tabled that report in March 2003. We were even more specific in what we wanted to say. We gave even further deadlines that we thought were appropriate. I am not going to go into all of the rationale. I just want to say that there was nothing in the government's response that impressed any of the members of the committee. That is why the committee a second time unanimously indicated that it wished the government to implement custodial management.

The second recommendation was:

That the Government of Canada inform NAFO and its contracting parties that Canada will proceed with the implementation of custodial management on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and on the Flemish Cap, and will withdraw from NAFO no later than December 31, 2004, in accordance with Article XXIV of the NAFO Convention.

On unanimous report two, again rejected by the government, the government gave the standard bureaucratic response of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and basically of the Department of Foreign Affairs that we could not do this because of international law.

The fact of the matter is, if we examine international law, it is not developed by the meek. It is developed by the bold. It is not developed by the reticent. It is developed by the confident. In this case, we either watch the Grand Banks die, we watch the fishery die, we watch Newfoundland and Labrador die or we do something.

The hon. member who moved the motion, in his earlier remarks, made the comment that he thought the Government of Canada did not have the guts to do it. Of course the problem is that this is not a one particular government problem because this has been an ongoing position of the Government of Canada.

Indeed, if we look at the comments of the person who probably will be the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, in an interview with the Moncton Times and Transcript of February 20, he stated:

Federal responsibility for fisheries should focus on ensuring fairness in our international agreements. I will endeavour to substantially reform the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization so that Canada's fish stocks will be better protected, and I would reserve the right to take unilateral action to protect them if these international arrangements fail.

That sounds pretty much like the policy today. However, it is time for some testicular fortitude by the Government of Canada. We have to assert our recognition that the stocks are in serious danger, and the problem with NAFO is that it does not have an effective enforcement mechanism.

We can catch the people. We can have the observers. They can report that fish taken were too small or too many fish were taken or the wrong species were taken, but ultimately those fishermen are then sent back to their own country and it is the laws of that country which do or more particular do not enforce the breaches of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization's quotas that have been set. There is a very ineffective enforcement mechanism in NAFO.

When the fisheries committee travelled to Europe to talk to NAFO nations, this was clearly acknowledged by everybody we talked to in Norway, Brussels and Iceland. Wherever we went, it was clear that NAFO had very few teeth. There is no way that NAFO is doing the job to protect the fishery. I think it is fair to say that the Government of Canada realizes this.

I note that on March 5, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of National Defence announced collaboration on marine security initiatives. What they said among other things was, and I quote from the news release:

--they plan to enhance the fisheries patrol presence on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks. Specifically, [the Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans and Nation Defence] announced that their departments are working aggressively on a strategy that would ensure a continual fisheries patrol presence on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks in the near future.

It is about time. One of the reasons in all likelihood that the ministers have come to this decision, which is a good one, is because of the pressure put on them by the fisheries and oceans committee of the House of Commons, recognizing this problem, travelling around the world, bringing this problem to the attention of fishing nations and explaining to them just how serious an economic impact the lack of fisheries is to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I want to praise the Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans and National Defence for coming up with this initiative. What this initiative shows us is if they feel it is necessary to have a patrol presence on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, clearly NAFO is not working. If NAFO were working, we would not need to have patrol vessels out there and a grand announcement by the two ministers that we would do this. There is something seriously wrong with NAFO, and that is there is not an enforcement mechanism.

The only way we can ensure that we save the fish there, not only for us but for future generations, is to implement custodial management. All the talk in the world, all the diplomatic niceties in the world will not do the trick. If NAFO cannot do it, we will have to act unilaterally, not in our own interest but in the interests of all fishing nations. All historic fishing nations will have their rights protected.

We constantly hear the Department of Foreign Affairs saying that we cannot do this or we cannot do that. At one time we had a three mile international limit. The reason we had it was because the cannonball fired three miles. If the technology had existed back then for a 200 nautical mile cannon, then we would have a 200 nautical mile limit right now.

I support the motion. I would urge that we do it in accordance with the dates set in the most recent unanimous report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

Contraventions Act February 24th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I vote no.

Food and Drugs Act February 6th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, again that is a reasonable question to ask at committee. As I have very little time left, how can I answer questions like that?

I will answer the question by asking a question. How many inspectors does it take to inspect the gas at every gas pump? It is done. How many inspectors does it take to inspect meat? It is done. How many inspectors does it take to make sure prepackaged foods are mandatorily labelled? It is done. If it is a good idea, it will get done.

Food and Drugs Act February 6th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, to the extent that an individual can do so, my answer is yes, I have thought it through.

The member has raised very good questions, questions that should be put at committee where there is ample opportunity to examine the facts, where there is ample opportunity to talk to the experts, to talk to the people from Health Canada, to talk to the restaurant association, to talk to actuaries and ask the very questions he has asked.

Of course he is using some humour to make his points, perhaps not the funniest humour, but nonetheless he is using it. Why would I suggest that we have bilingual menu boards? The menu boards are already up in his very riding whether it is Edmonton or Calgary, although I know it is Calgary. If he goes into a fast food outlet, the menu board is already there. It already tells him what he can order and the price. I do not know if any of his menu boards have prices in Braille, but I would think not because people would not have the ability to reach above and check the menu board. What is he talking about?

The reality is that cost estimates have been done and I will give him an example. Even if the smallest full service restaurant chain subject to Bill C-398 had to do a full chemical analysis for every menu item at $350 each for a particularly large 100 item menu, and that is a gross exaggeration of most businesses, the total would involve a maximum one time cost of $35,000 or about one-sixth of 1% of sales revenues during the two year grace period for compliance with the bill. That amounts to less than 2¢ for a $10 meal, which is barely noticeable to the consumer.

In the spirit of laissez-faire he asked why we would not leave this up to businesses and let them do what they think is right. We already know government has to lead in many instances. That is why we had to introduce the mandatory nutritional labelling regulations because after years of consumers demanding it, manufacturers did not want to give it. That is why we have to put warning labels on tobacco. That is why we want to get warning labels about what happens to unborn babies when people drink alcohol. The industry does not want those labels. Why? Because that is a false statement? No, because it will affect their sales.

Sometimes government has to take responsibility to help people get the information that they require in order to make a choice. Once they have the information, it is up to them to make the choice as to what they wish to do.

Food and Drugs Act February 6th, 2004

moved that Bill C-398, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (food labelling), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to have my bill come up this quickly after the House has resumed. What I would like to do today is break my comments down into three categories. First, a little bit of history; second, what my bill would do; and third, address some of the criticisms that some portions of the industry have levelled against the bill.

Before I do that I want to take the opportunity to thank Mr. Bill Jeffery from the Centre for Science in the Public Interest for his hard work in helping me to prepare the bill and some of the arguments that I have put forward in support of the bill. I would also like to thank the Centre for Science in the Public Interest and all the people across Canada who have taken an interest in the bill and have expressed their support for it.

I will now give a little bit of history. In 1993 I began my interest in this subject matter. I introduced a private member's bill to provide for mandatory nutritional labelling on prepackaged foods. That was about 11 years ago. We are still talking about that issue as frequently as question period today about what should or should not be in prepackaged foods and various other aspects.

The point I want to make is that back in 1993, when I brought in the original bill on prepacked foods, the respective industries were against mandatory nutritional labelling, as indeed was Health Canada. They were of the view that voluntary nutritional labelling was the way to go and that the industry would voluntarily provide all the nutritional information necessary for consumers to make an intelligent choice on what they are eating.

As it turns out, of course, it is obvious that in business one emphasizes that which is beneficial to or touting one's product. Businesses do not say some of the things that are not that good about the product which might affect their sales.

Sloughed away with a lot of other people and out of nowhere, in approximately October 2000 the then minister of health reversed the longstanding position of the Department of Health and announced that there would in fact be mandatory nutritional labelling of prepackaged foods in Canada. I am glad to say that will be coming into force over the next year or so, allowing of course a period of time for industry to adjust.

Of course the very same kinds of arguments that were used for seven years about why we should not have mandatory nutritional labelling on prepackaged foods will be used against Bill C-398, and they have just about as must efficacy. In any event, that was a little history.

What is the bill all about? It is an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (food labelling). It contains all of three pages, half English and half French. We might as well say it is a page and a half. And it has three main sections. In my view what it is about is the empowerment of consumers. How do we empower consumers?

We have all heard the phrase “knowledge is power”, and that is absolutely true. The more knowledge we provide to consumers the more opportunity consumers have to make more informed and free choices about what they wish to do. In this case it is what foods they wish to eat.

As far as I know, no one who I have spoken to about this issue argues that consumers should not have more and better information about the foods they are eating. If that is the case, if it is not a bad idea to empower consumers, then it must be a good idea or at least a neutral idea. If it is either a good idea or a neutral idea then what is wrong with providing consumers with the information they need to make healthful food choices?

What is this bill not about? In my view the bill is not about harassing the restaurant industry. I love eating in restaurants. I do not want to harass the restaurant industry.

I also do not want to over-regulate any industry. I am a long-time member of the scrutiny of regulations committee, Mr. Speaker, as you know since you were a member of that committee, and we know that over-regulation is the bane of many a government. The issue is the balancing of requiring reluctant organizations to provide information with trying to keep that from being over-regulated. I hope I have struck a reasonable balance in my bill to that effect.

Let me describe the sections of the bill so people listening today understand what it is that I am trying to accomplish. Since we already have mandatory nutritional labelling of most prepackaged foods, what is this bill about? I can divide it into three sections.

Section number one is that some prepackaged foods do not yet have mandatory labelling requirements. One of them is prepackaged meats. The bill contains a section requiring prepacked meats to have a reference amount of serving of the food. For example, it does not matter how much of the prepackaged meat we buy, the label would say “one serving (400 grams equals whatever)”. The consumer would be required to think about how many servings there are in a package, although with prepackaged foods now, quite often the manufacturer will put the number of servings that are in the container or the package. That is up to them.

It would also require the number of calories in that serving and the amount of total fat, saturated fat and trans fat, and I emphasize trans fat only because again that subject came up today in question period, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fibre, sugars, proteins, iron, calcium and vitamin A and vitamin C per reference amounts expressed as a percentage of recommended daily intake. For example, on a package of medium ground hamburger meat it would say that one serving contains X grams of fat which equals approximately 35% of the recommended daily intake and that it contains two grams of trans fat which is two grams more than we should have, or however they want to phrase it. That is what we would see on prepackaged meat.

It does not affect packagers, for example, whose annual revenues are less than $500,000 from the sale of those types of meats. Why would we do that? Because we do not want to over-regulate. We do not want to affect the mom and pop operations, or the small business operation, or the local Chinese restaurant run by two or three generations of Canadians or the small pizza store. What we want to do is spread out the cost of requiring this information over the largest number of consumers, and I will get to the figures shortly. We would not be talking about the smaller packagers of meats.

What about this information? Is it hard to come by or is it impossible to come by? I suggest everyone takes a look at the websites of some of the beef producers or their associations. We find virtually every cut of meat is described and most of the information I have just set out is already described on the website. Why is it there? Because it is clear that consumers want that information and it is becoming clearer every day. More and more information is being provided by more and more associations and businesses, and I will get to that in a moment as well.

These are not fanciful things that I have simply thought up out of the air and am writing into law to annoy packagers of meats. The information is already available. It is a question of putting it on the package so people do not need a computer, or access to a computer or take the time to go to a computer, especially when they are in a market and they want to make a decision about which cut of meat to buy or how much of it.

The second portion of the bill deals with restaurants, not all restaurants, but I will get to that in a moment.

What does it want restaurants to do with respect to providing consumers with information? If the restaurant has a menu, then the bill asks that on the menu beside the item that it state the number of calories in a serving of that item offered for sale. In addition, it would state the amount of sodium, the sum of the saturated fats, including the trans fat, expressed as a percentage of the recommended daily input. What do we have? We have calories per serving, sodium and fat on a menu, and that is it.

If they are menu boards, as they have in fast food places where they do not actually have a menu and people look on a board and order what they want, the only thing the bill requires in that case is the number of calories per serving. If we are ordering a plain hamburger from a menu board, it would say “One hamburger”. If we looked over, halfway between the name of the item and the price, presumably, it would say “460 calories” and then the price. There is lots of space right now between the name of the item and the price of the food. There is plenty of room to put in that information.

Even though it is just the calories per serving, the sodium and fat at this point, the bill does not apply to restaurants or places that serve food that have less than $10 million in annual revenues per year. Again, we want to provide this information to the largest number of people. Studies have shown us already that many Canadians are eating outside the home much more frequently than they used to. Studies will also show that most of them eat in what we ultimately would call chain restaurants. It would not affect the local small restaurant, but it would provide consumers with the information they need.

Let us take a simple scenario. We go to a restaurant with the family. I do not want to single out any particular restaurant chain so I will just call it Tom's. We go to Tom's, which has 450 branches across Canada, and we want to have hamburger, fries and a soft drink. We drive up to the window. There is a beautiful picture of that grouping of food, hamburger, fries and a soft drink. Right below the picture of the hamburger it would say “450 calories$, under the fries, “300 calories” and under the drink, “110” or “150 calories”. It would also say things like “If you supersize the fries, it is an additional 350 calories”. There is lots of room on these little advertisements as we drive up to a fast food order window to provide that information. That is an example.

In a restaurant we would look at a menu. It would say “Grilled cheese sandwich” and as we are looking over to see that the price is $3.50, halfway across we would see the sandwich has 250 calories, 10 milligrams of salt and 30 grams of fat, or something along those lines.

The final item that the bill covers would be pictures in particular of foods that tend to mislead. I was going to give an exaggerated example of that but since I only have a minute left I will be unable to do that.

However, I want to at least have the opportunity to say that there are some criticisms of the bill. That is fine, but it is not a fair criticism to say that the bill should be killed now. I say it should go to committee and we should have witnesses come to express their pleasure or displeasure. Let us investigate. Let us cross-examine. Let us find out what is or is not hyperbole. Let us see what we can do to educate consumers to the best of our ability.

Committees of the House November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans entitled, “Atlantic Fisheries Issues: May 2003”, which is a unanimous report of our committee, with supplemental reasons by the Canadian Alliance regarding our findings on our trip to the Atlantic provinces.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report within 150 days.

While I am on my feet, Mr. Speaker, may I, on behalf of our committee, thank our hard-working clerk, researchers, support staff and specialized interpreters for everything they have done for us over this time.

Marriage Act October 29th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-447 which I support. This should come as no surprise to most members.

The previous speaker spoke about 2,000 year old history. I also want to speak a little bit about history but not that kind of history. I want to speak about the history of a more closer contemporary time.

I was dismayed with the parliamentary secretary's speech. The parliamentary secretary's speech runs counter to the position of every single minister of justice that the Government of Canada has had since Canada was formed, with the exception of the last and current minister of justice.

The arguments that were put forward by the parliamentary secretary were the very arguments that for years and years were refuted by the Government of Canada. They were refuted in court case after court case as the Government of Canada, including this government, supported in the courts the traditional definition of marriage until June of this year. That is a little bit of recent factual history.

I want to read what the then parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, the hon. member for Ahuntsic, said on June 8, 1999, on this very issue. She said:

The institution of marriage is historically, culturally and by definition a heterosexual institution. In Quebec, a fundamental condition of a valid marriage has always been that the two people involved are of the opposite sex. That condition is inherent in the very institution of marriage.

She then went on to talk about the vast amount of consultation that the Government of Canada and the Department of Justice had with jurists across Canada: the Canadian Bar Association, the Chambre des notaires, the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Bar, and the Quebec justice department. She went on to say:

We can therefore see that all necessary precautions have been taken by government legal experts to ensure that the rule of law, which is well established in our country with respect to what constitutes a spouse, is not inadvertently changed.

She concluded by saying:

There is no issue here. The Minister of Justice--

That is the previous minister of justice:

--was clear this morning that the government has no intention of changing the definition of marriage. It has never said that it would and she put that on the record this morning.

That is historical fact from this government in 1999.

I introduced Bill C-225 on October 1, 1997, entitled an act to amend the marriage (prohibited degrees) act and the interpretation act. For all intents and purposes it said what the hon. member's bill currently says.

I warned everyone back in 1997 that this issue was coming. Of course, I was not believed. Of course, it was not coming. I was told that the definition of marriage was crystal clear, it was in the common law, it would never be changed, and that I should not worry about it.

The private members' committee refused to make the bill votable because it was so clear that the definition of marriage would never be changed because the common law was clear. The Department of Justice was supporting the common law definition and would argue it tooth and nail right to the Supreme Court of Canada. We debated the bill; however, it was not votable.

The hon. members for Burnaby—Douglas and Hochelaga—Maisonneuve both took the position that they did not agree with the bill. That was fine; they had a position. They have been historically consistent in the position that they have taken, as have I.

While we disagree, I can certainly respect that they have taken a position which they have not wavered on. I, too, have taken a position which I have not wavered on.

On March 25, 1998, the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas introduced his own private member's bill which was basically an opposite of my private member's bill. I was flattered that he noticed it.

On March 28, 2000, the hon. member for Mississauga West introduced Bill C-463 which was virtually identical to my Bill C-225, with almost no changes except one or two minor variances. Was I angry? No, after all, imitation is the sincerest form of praise.

I was very pleased that he brought that forward. I was not pleased as to how the hon. member voted in the most recent vote with respect to this issue when he apparently voted contrary to the very bill he put forward in March 2000.

People are talking about this issue as a matter of human rights. It is not a matter of human rights and I am not alone in saying it is not a matter of human rights. The supreme court of New Zealand has found that this issue is not a matter of human rights. If the Supreme Court of Canada declares that this chair is a dog, it does not make this chair a dog. I do not have to believe that this chair is a dog because the Supreme Court of Canada says it is.

There is no court that I am aware of anywhere, outside of Canada, that has held that this issue is an issue of human rights. The two countries that have allowed same sex marriage have taken the issue squarely on what it is. They have stated that it is a question for society to decide whether or not it wishes to allow this as a matter of societal rules. Those two countries, Belgium and Netherlands, have decided that they are going to take this social position as a democratic country and permit same sex couples to marry. They have not hidden behind the nonsensical argument that this is a matter of human rights, and the supreme court of New Zealand has recognized that it is not.

What makes the Supreme Court of Canada right and the supreme court of New Zealand wrong, or vice versa for that matter? The point is that both are from the British legal system, and both have well known and well respected jurists. Members can decide one way or another; however, we cannot find any jurisdiction anywhere in the world other than Canada that has held this issue to be an issue of human rights, and it is not. It is for this House, not the courts, to decide this issue.

We must remember where we stood on this issue. We must remember our history. We must remember that this very government argued in the courts in favour of the current definition of the institution of marriage, and then virtually overnight flip-flopped. It is a fact. Why? It is this institution, not the executive branch, that must make this decision.

Referring matters to the Supreme Court of Canada with rigged questions are smokescreens. They do not ask the very obvious question, is it constitutional to limit marriage to heterosexual couples? That question was not asked of the Supreme Court. Why? Because those who are driving this agenda are afraid that the Supreme Court might say yes indeed, it is constitutional. The Supreme Court may not like it, but it may have to say it.

We also have section 91 of the Constitution, where we can say that for the peace, order and good government of this country we are enacting certain laws. The Supreme Court can also use section 91.

We were talking about history. I wanted to bring some history to this place. I also want to remind my own government that, up until this last Minister of Justice, every Liberal minister of justice since we were elected in 1993 has supported publicly, in the House and in the courts, the traditional definition of marriage. I say shame on them for changing their minds.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act October 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to address the House on this very important bill. I have talked about the bill before, but unfortunately I ran out of time. Therefore, I want to make a couple of comments on a couple of specific issues.

I want to begin where the hon. member for Wild Rose left off. He was talking about definitions and what we were talking about here. I just want to remind everybody that there is a definition of the word embryo in this statute, and I will read it.

--“embryo” means a human organism during the first 56 days of its development following fertilization or creation...

That means that by the very terms of the bill, by the very words of the bill, it is confirmed that an embryo is a human being. It is right in the act, so what are we talking about?

Of course it is a very complicated bill. There are many things in it. It has been partly drafted by lawyers, partly drafted by doctors and partly drafted by bureaucrats. However, there are many important fundamental considerations that must be addressed when we are talking about the bill. One is what are we doing when we are talking about experimentation on embryos, which by definition are human? It strikes me as utterly macabre to be talking about legislating permission to experiment on humans. Ultimately, that is exactly what we are talking about.

Experimentation on humans has occurred before, much to the distress of the world community. It is a question of where in the development of the human being this experimentation would take place. Here we are trying to have a regime where it will be possible to experiment on human organisms from the time they are conceived up until a certain defined time. That to me is something that we must not rush into.

I am heartened in my resolve by a survey which was recently conducted. The survey results were released on October 21. I would like to talk to members and to Canadians about the results of that poll.

I for one am a person who does not believe that we should legislate by polls, because after all if we legislate by polls, we do not need to be here. Everybody could ask the questions by polls and the legislation would occur. However, it does give us an opportunity to find out where Canadians stand on questions. I do know that whatever government is on this side of the House at any time, it will always stand when polls are favourable and say “The polls show that our policies are favourable to Canadians”. Of course the polls are ignored when they are not favourable.

Be that as it may, this poll was conducted by Léger & Léger. It was conducted between October 6 and October 13. It has a maximum margin of error of 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The poll asked 1,500 Canadians a question. Basically they were asked if they thought it was acceptable to use human embryos for stem cell research or if they thought it would be preferable to use other sources of stem cells which did not involve loss of life or harm. The results are pretty clear. Only 21% thought it was acceptable to use embryonic stem cells, 33% said that it was not acceptable, while 37% said that it would be preferable to use other sources. What does that mean? It means that 70% of the people polled favoured ethical alternatives to embryonic stem cell research.

That is an important statistic because once people are educated to what it is we are talking about, they realize that they do not want to go down that dark road where we authorize the permission to experiment on human organisms. That is a very dangerous path which we must not follow.

There are numerous problems with this bill and one of them, which I would like to talk about, is the position of the government that says that the bill bans cloning. This comes up because there is a discussion going on right now in the United Nations. The United Nations delegates are considering whether there should be a resolution to ban cloning. One of the discussions is, should the ban apply only to reproductive cloning, or should it apply to therapeutic cloning or should it apply to all forms of cloning?

I do not know this for a fact, but it would appear as if the Canadian position at the United Nations is to favour a resolution which would ban only reproductive cloning. If that is true, it goes contrary to the stated position of the government in the House of Commons. On Monday, October 6, during question period, the Minister of Health was asked about this issue and about what was going on in the United Nations. I will quote her answer directly. While speaking about Bill C-13, she stated, “we ban all forms of human cloning”.

A supplementary question was asked and the Minister of Health answered, “Bill C-13 bans all forms of human cloning for any purpose, howsoever done”.

That is pretty darn clear. That is the same minister who, when she was minister of justice, indicated that there was no possibility there could be any interpretation of the definition of marriage other than that it was the union of one man and one woman. Wrong once, it is certainly possible to be wrong twice.

The definition in the bill of human clone states, “an embryo”, and that is a human organism:

--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, foetus or embryo.

In my view this definition would cover a number of things, but would it cover everything, which is what the minister has told us it would cover in her answer. In my view, by using the word “single”, it would not cover pro-nuclei transfer. It would not cover the formation of chimeras and back breeding. It would not cover mitochondria transfer. It would not cover DNA recombinant germ line gene transfer or eugenics. All these kinds of cloning techniques have been described in several articles that we have been sent and, of course, that the committee has considered. To say categorically that all forms of human cloning have been banned, in my respectful opinion, is at best a mistake. I could go on.

It becomes a very complicated process to discuss this in medical terminology. However, suffice it to say, although I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer and I know that if definitions are not nailed down six ways to Sunday, someone will drive a Mack truck through that definition. We will see things happen that we did not anticipate and it will be too late to close the floodgates.

I urge the House to consider very seriously whether it wishes to pass this bill at this time. I am thankful for everyone's attention.

Committees of the House June 12th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, entitled “The 2001 Fraser River Salmon Fishery”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government provide a comprehensive response within 150 days of the tabling of this report.

The main thrust of this report is that the 2001 Fraser River salmon fishery was badly managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Among the reasons for this we find that the pilot sales program failed to do what it was intended to do, which was to bring order and legality to the aboriginal fishery and stability to the commercial fishery. In order to avoid a disastrous repetition of this 2001 salmon fishery, the committee recommends, among numerous other recommendations, returning to a single commercial fishery for all Canadians.

Criminal Code June 6th, 2003

I take your point, Mr. Speaker. I was quoting directly but I will do the mental gymnastics if I come across the name again. In any event the article states:

But it will swiftly impose a hate-crimes “chill” on those who object to the gay agenda. Before too long, those who speak out in opposition to government--or court-imposed gay rights--may find themselves pulling their punches out of fear of prosecution for their beliefs.

The article goes on and on but it does say “It is hardly fantastical to worry that an activist judge, armed with the hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas' law, could rule at the national level that all opinions troubling to gays are hateful, and none are protected, no matter what the Criminal Code says”.

I am getting heckled by the hon. member. It is interesting. The hon. member preaches tolerance and practises intolerance. He cannot even tolerate being in the same room as I am in when I do not even open my mouth. So shame on the hon. member.

This is a place of debate where we listen to each other. I sat here. I listened to his speech. I have listened to other people's speeches who are in favour of this bill. That is democracy and I ask the same respect from the hon. member.

The only way the hon. member seems to be able to convince people is to shout them down and I will not have that in this House. This is a place of freedom of speech.

In any event, I support the amendment of the hon. member for Scarborough--Rouge River because it does specify, or tries to specify, that religious texts are protected. However I ask what about the atheist who does not believe in good conscience that homosexual acts should be promoted or accepted--it could be tolerated--but accepted or taught in school as an accepted alternate lifestyle? What about the atheist? Is that person going to be subject to these sections?