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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

Criminal Code June 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I realize that there are very passionate views about this issue. I intend to speak to this issue to the extent that I can on the basis of the law and of what I consider to be the legalities of the issue.

This amendment is a very short one. It is very direct, very to the point. I just want people who are watching to understand what it is. It seeks to add to subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code the words “sexual orientation”. That is it. What it seeks to do is add in subsection (4) those words so that it would read:

In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

That section deals solely with genocide, absolutely nothing else. It deals with attempting to incite killing the members of a group and inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in its entirety.

The difficulty from a legal point of view is that definition, which deals solely with genocide, is then brought into section 319 of the Criminal Code by the definition section, which is subsection (7), which says that “identifiable group” has the same meaning as in section 318. That is why we heard some hon. members talking about how this amendment, albeit it is only to section 318, also impacts on sections 319 and 320.

I only have 10 minutes so I am going to have to make my comments brief.

In my view there has been absolutely no justification whatsoever brought forward either at committee or here that requires this amendment to this particular section.

Tragic cases such as murder because someone was a homosexual, or gay bashing because someone was a homosexual are totally unacceptable in Canadian society. They are against the law. It is called murder. It is called assault. It is called whatever one wants to call it. The Criminal Code already punishes people who commit those crimes, as the Criminal Code should punish those people who commit those crimes. But it goes further.

Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code says “A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles: (a) a sentence should be increased” if there is evidence that the offence was motivated by bias or the person's sexual orientation. I am of course abbreviating the section.

The Criminal Code already provides that people can get an increased sentence if their motivation in beating someone up or killing them was because the person was a homosexual. In addition to the fact that the Criminal Code already provides penalties, it also provides increased penalties.

This particular amendment is not needed for any of the examples that the member for Burnaby—Douglas has given with respect to acts that pertain to criminal acts.

There are a lot of problems with this bill. The law of unintended consequences is what I would like to talk about.

People read things and I want to read an e-mail that I received, which is talking about Bill C-250:

If this legislation had been passed, we might have been able to throw Elsie Wayne in jail for promoting hatred against gays.

It's time to silence the gay bashers once and for all. Too many people hide behind religion and “family values” when all they are really doing is promoting hatred. It's not the gays that should “shut up,” but the hate mongers like Elsie. There must be limits on free speech when it is against gays and other identifiable groups.

It's time to put hate mongers like Elsie Wayne behind bars. Vote for Bill C-250!

Now, that is a fringe element, but it is out there. If we have private prosecutions for this kind of section, that is the kind of person who would lay a charge under the Criminal Code.

That is why the hon. member for Provencher has asked for an amendment so that only the attorney general of the appropriate province can authorize a prosecution. That amendment makes sense.

We cannot have people saying that we have to limit free speech if it is against gays or other identifiable minorities.

I want to close by saying there is no point reinventing the wheel. I want to read some of the comments of Lorne Gunter which appeared in the Edmonton Journal on June 5. He stated:

Technically, his bill amends only Section 318 of the Criminal Code, the clause which forbids anyone to advocate or promote genocide against “an identifiable group.” Pretty basic and non-controversial, it would seem.

But the danger from altering Section 318 comes via what it does to Section 319. By adding “sexual orientation” to the protected categories enumerated in 318, Robinson's bill has the effect of altering the definition of “identifiable groups” in 319. And while 318 deals only with genocide, 319 makes it a federal offence to “communicate statements in any public place” that would “wilfully promote hatred against any identifiable group.”

Covered in Section 319 are all forms of hatred, not just the promotion of genocide. All forms of communication are covered, too, except “private conversation.” Broadcasting, publishing and advertising are all covered; so are postings on the Internet. Indeed, speaking out against homosexuality would be forbidden in all “audible or visible means” of communication. One day, even sermons delivered by priests, rabbis and imams could conceivably be forbidden to refer to homosexuality as sinful. Talking on the telephone could be covered, too, since telecommunications are federally regulated.

It is true that Robinson's C-250 will not instantly ban all opinions and--

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals) June 6th, 2003

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today to this issue. I want to explain first why it is that I am speaking to this issue.

For over five and a half years I was a full member of the justice committee and took a very active role in the issues of the justice committee. Having done that, I have always kept my eye out on the agenda of the justice committee so I could see what was going on in the justice committee, attend when I thought it was important, review the transcripts when I thought it was important and talk to my colleagues when I thought it was important.

When this particular bill in its original form came before the committee I was asked by the then chairman of the Liberal Party's rural caucus to attend the hearings, particularly because I am a lawyer and because I think that the then chair felt that I would take a look at this legislation in an objective manner.

I agreed to do that at the request of the then chairman and I did sit in on the committee hearings insofar as they pertained to Bill C-10. At that time it had two parts, namely the part respecting firearms and the part respecting the protection of animals. My remarks of course will be completely restricted to the part respecting the protection of animals.

As a member of the committee I was able to listen to evidence and to ask questions with respect to the evidence that we heard. We heard a lot of compelling evidence from a lot of people on different sides of the issue.

What was common to all people was that everyone wanted to make sure that animals were protected from unnecessary and cruel pain. I doubt very much if anyone in Canada would argue that it is perfectly acceptable to inflict purposeful pain on an animal.

However numerous legal issues had to be dealt with in respect of the provisions of Bill C-10 which dealt with the protection of animals. I want to mention a couple of the things that occurred while I was sitting on that committee and while I was reporting to the then chair of the Liberal Party rural caucus.

After listening to all the evidence we were talking about various amendments that might be able to go through. In late 2001, I wrote to the then parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice setting forth some friendly suggestions that I had to amend the bill to make it better, make it stronger, make it able to more easily protect animals while at the same time not being assailed by people because they thought it was somehow affecting their day to day livelihoods.

I just want to discuss a couple of the amendments that I suggested at that time. I will turn my attention to the very beginning of the bill. The bill in its form as passed by the House of Commons defined animal. It defined animal to mean “a vertebrate other than a human being and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain”.

We heard compelling testimony from organizations such as the Poultry Welfare Coalition, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, among others. A couple of those briefs made some recommendations to leave out that portion which said “any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain”, for a variety of reasons, including that there was no scientific unanimity on what animals have the capacity to feel pain, and that it would not be fair to litigate this ad nauseam in the courts with the attendant legal costs of calling scientific experts.

I recommended to the parliamentary secretary at that time that that particular definition be amended in the following way: “In this part, animal means a vertebrate other than a human being, whether privately owned or otherwise, which is hereby deemed to need protection from cruelty because it feels pain”.

The reason I did that was because those who were advocating changes wanted to link the concept of the protection of animals to the fact that they feel pain. I had no problem with that.

The point of my amendment was to say that vertebrates feel pain and obviously my amendment did not include animals that have the capacity to feel pain or may have the capacity to feel pain but are not vertebrates.

Interestingly enough, the bureaucracy at that time rejected that amendment outright. Lo and behold, the Senate held its hearings. What did it recommend as an amendment to the definition? It recommended that animal be defined as a vertebrate other than a human being. In effect, that is exactly what I recommended to the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice and exactly what was rejected by the minister of justice at the end of 2001.

The Senate decided that the definition of animal should be limited to a vertebrate other than a human being. I applaud it for that for the reasons that I suggested that the amendment should proceed.

I see that the Minister of Justice now has moved a motion which reads:

That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that this House agrees with amendments numbered 1 and 5 made by the Senate to Bill C-10B, an act to amend the Criminal Code....

In fact, the Minister of Justice has now accepted an amendment which is exactly what I proposed at the end of 2001 and which was rejected. It just shows how ridiculously this place works. It is a shame that in many instances the bureaucracy cannot conceive of the fact that anybody but the bureaucracy can come up with an idea or with a suggested amendment that actually might make the bill better.

I am pleased to see that the Senate made the definition of animal to be that of a vertebrate other than a human being. I am glad to see that the Minister of Justice has finally seen the light and has agreed to that amendment years after I suggested it.

I have a second thing I want to talk about. I note that they are agreeing to some suggested amendments in the French version, and I have no comments on that. I do, however, want to comment on an amendment the Senate suggested to add to section 182.5.

The bill as passed had in it a protection, shall we say, of common law defences and the section as it passed reads as follows:

For greater certainty, subsection 8(3)applies in respect of proceedings for anoffence under this Part.

The document I am looking at is a document that says “Bill C-10B as passed by the House of Commons, October 9, 2002”.

Section 182.5 referred to subsection 8(3) of the Criminal Code. If we go to subsection 8(3) of the Criminal Code we see that it states the following:

Every rule and principle of the common law that renders any circumstance a justification or excuse for an act or a defence to a charge continues in force and applies in respect of proceedings for an offence under this Act or any other Act--

In other words, it is carrying on common law justifications or excuses. The debate at the time had to do with whether that was specific enough to allow the legal justification for the act, or that there was colour of right to do the act. Certain recommendations were made but they were rejected by the government to, shall we say, specifically state what the situation was.

I recommended to the parliamentary secretary that section 182.3 be amended in line 12, at that time, by adding “negligently or with legal justification, excuse or colour of right”. Why? To specifically remind people that legal justification or excuse or colour of right defences were allowed. The government said no.

Now the Senate has recommended that section 182.5 be amended to read as follows:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under this Part where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse or with colour of right.

Those were virtually my words at the end of November 2001. Obviously, since I agreed with them at that time, I agree with them now. The Senate was right in making this suggested amendment.

What does the government say with respect to this suggested amendment? It is interesting because the government agrees with the principle set out in amendment numbered 4, “namely, the desire to reassure Canadians that no defences are lost, but, because the wording of the amendment would codify a reverse onus by requiring an accused person to prove his or her innocence on a balance of probabilities”. The government thinks the latter is a bad idea and it proposes an amendment to replace section 182.5 with the following:

For greater certainty, the defences set out in subsection 429(2) apply, to the extent that they are relevant, in respect of proceedings for an offence under this Part.

I know I am talking legal jargon, but what does this mean? The Senate wanted to ensure that the defences of legal justification or excuse or with colour of right remain. Yes, the amendment does say “where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right”, and yes, that does put an onus on the defendant. The government, in its response, says that it agrees with the sentiment but not with the exact amendment of the Senate because it puts a reverse onus on the defendant.

If we look at the amendment proposed by the government, which no longer refers to subsection 8(3) of the Criminal Code but rather refers to subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code, subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code says:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under sections 430 to 446 where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.

The government is proposing an amendment to put in the defences in subsection 429(2) because the Senate amendment reverses the onus and requires the defendant to prove this, yet the very section that the government is quoting to prevent this reverse onus calls for a reverse onus and requires that the defendant prove that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.

I suggest that indeed the so-called problem that the Minister of Justice observed, which was the reverse onus problem, has not been solved by the government's proposed amendment because it has merely quoted subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code which calls for a reverse onus on the defendant. While one possibly might agree with the government's rationale for not agreeing with the Senate amendment, the government's proposed resolution does not resolve it. In fact, it maintains the reverse onus on the defendant. I do not know what was going on when these responses were being prepared to the Senate's message, but I think somebody goofed.

I know that after fourteen and a half years I have become very cynical about this place and about how much ordinary members of Parliament are listened to, and in particular how much ordinary members of Parliament are listened to by the bureaucracy, which I dare say in my view is just about never.

I implore justice department officials to look at subsection 429(2), which clearly calls for a reverse onus on the defendant. How can they quote in their suggested amendment to protect against the reverse onus on a defendant a section which requires a reverse onus? It simply does not make logical sense. I am urging the government to look at that and thereby leave the amendment the way the Senate proposed the amendment. There is nothing wrong with the proposal that the Senate has put forward.

The final point I want to make about the Senate amendments concerns the third amendment. The Senate proposed in a particular section that a clause be added which reads as follows:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under paragraph (1)(a) if the pain, suffering, injury or death is caused in the course of traditional hunting, trapping or fishing practices carried out by a person who is one of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada in any area in which Aboriginal peoples have harvesting rights under or by virtue of existing aboriginal or treaty rights within the meaning of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and any pain, suffering or injury caused is no more than is reasonably necessary in the carrying out of those traditional practices

The clear intent of that amendment is to protect the traditions of our aboriginal peoples. I want to give two potential examples. Suppose aboriginal people go out to hunt caribou and choose for reasons best known to them to use a spear or bow and arrow as opposed to a high powered hunting rifle. Suppose that the arrow hits its mark but does not kill the caribou immediately. That caribou may, obviously in pain, travel across the tundra for some period of time with the hunter following it until it drops and dies. That example has been the way of life of the aboriginal people since time immemorial. They are afraid that the bill might cause someone to be charged for inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering on such an animal.

Let us take another example. A trapline is set for a beaver and it gets caught in the trap. It can either chew its foot off, which would be terribly painful, or starve to death or die of thirst in the trap because the hunter only visits the trapline once every week. Would that be chargeable? That is also something that has been done for millennia in different ways and I can see why the aboriginal peoples would be concerned that some overzealous person might lay a charge under these particular amendments.

This is clearly why this amendment is there. I do not care for different laws for different folks. All Canadians should be bound by the same laws, but if there were traditional rights or aboriginal rights that precede Canada, they would have to be honoured. I do not have a problem with that. What does the government say in response to this? The government says that it:

Disagrees with amendment numbered 3 because it is unclear and creates confusion about whether the intent is to create a different test for liability of aboriginal persons and because there is no clarity as to what “traditional practices” are and how law enforcement can be expected to act accordingly;

This is a ridiculous comment because the government says there is no definition of traditional practices, but we have countless examples in the House of the government amending the Criminal Code without defining certain words. I will not even bother getting into it because the history is well known, but it does not seem to trouble the government when it feels like it to put in amendments to the Criminal Code without defining certain words. Of course it would be up to the circumstances of each particular case to determine whether a particular aboriginal group had a pre-existing or section 35 or treaty right to do what it did if it were charged with cruelty to animals.

That must decided on a case by case basis. It clearly is dependent on the facts of the case. To say that we need a definition of certain words or to say that it is unclear in my view is simply disingenuous. I fully support the protection of animals from undue cruelty. I fully support Bill C-10 and the Senate amendments that I have mentioned do strengthen the bill and I support them.

Committees of the House May 28th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

In accordance with its order of reference from the House of Commons of February 26, 2003, the committee has considered votes 1, 5 and 10 under fisheries and oceans in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2004, less the amounts voted in interim supply, and reports the same.

Committees of the House May 27th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, entitled “Aquatic Invasive Species: Uninvited Guests”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report. However, notwithstanding the deadline of 150 days stipulated in Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the comprehensive response to this report be tabled within 90 days of the presentation of the report to the House.

In brief, the report is a unanimous report of the fisheries and oceans committee which concludes that the government has woefully dragged its feet in protecting Canada and in particular the Great Lakes from the very real threat of invasive species. The committee offers very real and concrete recommendations for the government to act immediately.

Responsible Fishing Award April 30th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge and congratulate the winners of the Roméo LeBlanc National Awards for Responsible Fishing.

This award recognizes Canadian fishermen who have contributed to the development and promotion of responsible fishing practices from coast to coast. It is individual fishermen who are the most aware of the need to manage fisheries in a responsible manner. This award gives them the recognition they deserve.

The 2003 recipients, who are on Parliament Hill today, are John Carriere, Tim Richards and Ulf Snarby. They have been chosen by their peers for their significant contribution to responsible fisheries and are role models for the next generation of Canadian fishermen.

I wish to extend congratulations to this year's award winners and thank them for their contribution to responsible fisheries, and I ask my colleagues to do likewise.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act April 10th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, in my early days of practice I used to facilitate adoptions. One of the key things I felt was very important was to give as much information as possible about the biological parents to the adoptive parents because of the potential for future diseases and things that the child, and indeed the adoptive parents, should know or should be aware of. It is very important that we know as much as we can, and that the child know as much as the child can, about the products of conception.

I am not on the health committee but I have been told something which I cannot confirm, but just having been told this was enough to shock me. It was my information that some infertility clinics in Canada are getting, or were getting and maybe still are, their sperm from United States prisons. The prisoners are donating their sperm at $25 a shot, if I can put if that crudely. It is shipped up here, of course with complete anonymity, and that sperm is being sold to various clinics for a substantially greater amount of money.

That may not be true, I do not know. I think the matter was raised in the health committee. It may not be true, but simply because it was raised, I wonder how many Canadian infertile couples would be happy to know that there is at least a possibility that the sperm donor is a prisoner in an American prison.

It is beyond me that one would not want to have as much information as possible available to the child about the product of conception, how that person was conceived, and what the DNA factors were of that person.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act April 10th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the regulatory agency Patrick Taylor, MD, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia's faculty of medicine and a past director of the infertility clinics at the University of Calgary and University of Manitoba, wrote an article wherein he called the bill a bad bill. Some of his reasons I agree with and some I do not agree with.

About the regulatory agency he said:

Now to this add some of the provisions of Bill C-13.... An assisted reproduction agency is to be established. On the principle that, “War is too important to be left to the generals”, there are no provisions for any representation on the agency's board from the physicians, nurses and scientists who are experts in the field nor from those most directly affected--the infertile. Yet this board will regulate almost all infertility care and research in Canada. Treating the infertile is no less a reputable medical procedure than caring for the victim of a heart attack. Would you like to have a lay cardiology agency dictating how much and what kind of care you could have if you suffered a heart attack?

Perhaps it is an overstatement, but it is food for thought.

A lot of Bill C-13 simply ignores legitimate concerns of a lot of stakeholders. It is not necessarily appropriate at the last minute to try to change various specific parts of a bill, although it is always a good attempt. These things should have been noticed by the government and the bureaucrats who advise the government. They should have made either the changes or a proper reasoned, debated case for why they rejected the changes.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act April 10th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I will address some of the issues the member spoke to as I know he has worked hard on the bill.

In the bill “human clone” is defined as being obtained from a single--living or deceased--human being, fetus or embryo. In the United States “human clone” is defined as meaning:

--human asexual reproduction, accomplished by introducing nuclear material from one or more human somatic cells--

This is a huge difference and any scientist will tell us that. This means that the current definition of human clone in the bill would not prohibit the following techniques of human cloning: pronuclei transfer, mytochondrial transfer, and DNA recombinant germline gene transfer.

That is enough reason to say that we have to have some precision in the bill. Why were the same words not used in the Canadian bill as were used in the American bill? It at least would have provided some consistency across North America. If we are going to say “single”, then why not say “single or more”? What possible harm could there be?

The bill is the personification of the commodification of the human being. We are paying people to be surrogate mothers. I cannot support experimentation on human organisms. I cannot support that Frankenstein-like concept. It is ghoulish. I cannot support the commodification of the human being.

Assisted Human Reproduction Act April 10th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-13 today. It is a very important subject matter and one that is not to be trifled with and one that is not to be decided lightly.

I will begin my analysis of the bill by dividing it into two steps. First is the analysis of the process by which we have arrived here. Second is an analysis of the substance of the bill.

As I proceed with my remarks the House will see that for a variety of reasons I will be unable to support the bill. I want to explain those reasons because, in my view, this is truly a very important bill in respect of the dignity of the human person.

I will begin with the process. I find the process that the bill took objectionable for four particular reasons. I would like to discuss each of those four reasons in some detail.

First, there are two aspects to the bill. Of course I am simplifying what is an extremely complicated bill. Some parts, in my opinion, one cannot understand unless one is a scientist or medical doctor. However, I am a legislator and a lawyer and certainly I can understand the legislative and legal aspects of the bill. One aspect of the bill is that it would prohibit certain activities, in this case cloning, and another is the portion which deals with the regulation of certain aspects of this particular medical practice.

When the bill was first being discussed by the then minister of health, now the Minister of Industry, there was a great deal of discussion, certainly within our caucus, as to the nature of the format that the bill should take. A lot of members of Parliament very strongly urged the minister to, in effect, split the bill so that there would be a separate bill dealing with cloning and another bill dealing with regulated activities.

I can say, with as much certainty as one can have, that if that advice had been taken and a bill had been brought in to prevent cloning simply by itself, leaving all regulated activities to another bill, that bill undoubtedly would have sailed through the House of Commons, likely in record time.

I do not say this simply because I am pulling something out of the air. I want to bring to the attention of the House the act in the United States that did just that. It could not be shorter unless it was a joke. It is really two sentences and a maximum of a couple of pages. Basically, it prohibits human cloning, end of story. It has very few sections but it is very clear. I will get back to the definition of human cloning a little later in my remarks but it defines human cloning very clearly and broadly as follows:

The term 'human cloning' means human asexual reproduction, accomplished by introducing nuclear material from one or more human somatic cells....

I underscore the words “or more”.

It could have been done. It has been done in the United States. There would have been no reason not to do it. One has to ask why it was not done. Why was a bill not presented to ban human cloning and then another bill presented dealing with regulated activities?

My speculation, as a member of Parliament, is that it was done to either entice or coerce. I will let members choose the word they wish to use. Members of Parliament who had great difficulty supporting certain aspects of the regulated part of the bill were reluctant to not vote for the bill because it also bans human cloning. We would be left with a situation where if we were to vote against the bill, because there were parts of it with which we could not agree in terms of the regulated aspect, we would also be voting against banning human cloning. How can we do that?

On the other hand, if I were to vote for it I would be banning human cloning, which is something we all want, but I also would be literally approving parts of the bill with which I cannot live. That was a very difficult thing for me to deal with. Because the bill was proceeded with in that way, for me that was strike one on the issue of process.

The previous minister of health, currently the Minister of Industry, asked a question of the health committee. I am not a member of the health committee but I commend its members for their work on the bill. It was an onerous task over many months. The minister asked the committee to examine a bill prior to second reading and make certain recommendations.

The health committee took that request very seriously and travelled across the country to hear witnesses who had many interesting and important things to say about the bill. The committee debated and basically did what the previous minister of health, now the Minister of Industry, wanted it to do, which was to examine the bill and present a report for the minister's consideration.

Sure enough, that was exactly what it did. The health committee requested a comprehensive government response to that report within 150 days. That is not unusual because if we look at Standing Order 109 it states:

Within 150 days of the presentation of a report from a standing or special committee, the government shall, upon the request of the committee, table a comprehensive response thereto.

It is not “may”. It is not “can”. It is “shall”. It is mandatory under our rules that the government, when requested, shall table a comprehensive response to the committee report in the House of Commons. Did that happen? No, it did not.

If we look at Marleau and Montpetit at page 886, under the subject “Government Response”, the learned authors state:

Speakers have consistently refused to define “comprehensive” in this context, maintaining that the nature of the response must be left to the discretion of the government.

That is fine. I have been in this place 14 years and I have enjoyed every minute of it. In my experience on numerous committees I have never seen a request for a comprehensive response by the government either ignored or, as I see it in this case, toyed with by saying “Our comprehensive response to your considered report is another bill”. That to me is a slap in the face to the work of the health committee and to the people and witnesses who contributed to that work.

Why is a comprehensive government response required? It is because the committee made numerous recommendations. If the government did not like the recommendations it would have been incumbent on the government to explain. Therefore when the committee studied the new bill old ground would not need to be rehashed. The committee would know and perhaps even agree with the government's reasons for not agreeing with some of its recommendations. If the government agreed with some of its recommendations, then there would be no need to talk about those recommendations.

In this case, on the 150th day after the request was made, the government tabled Bill C-13. That is not a comprehensive response by any definition in my opinion as a member of Parliament.

Marleau and Montpetit goes on to state:

The Standing Orders do not provide for any sanction should the government fail to comply with the requirement to present a response.

That is true. There is no sanction in the rules. However if we believe the government, in ignoring what it is supposed to do under our rules it has taken away our ability in committee to enact proper legislation for the country. Therefore the sanction each and every one of us can use is to vote against the bill and send a message.

Because the government did not table a comprehensive response to the committee report, that is, for me, strike two on process.

When Bill C-13 was called, it is my understanding that the present Minister of Health at no time appeared before the health committee to discuss the bill or its predecessor under the subject matter of the bill. I am not talking about an idle question or two when the minister appeared for estimates. I am talking about a minister of the crown appearing before a health committee, presenting the bill after it has been passed at second reading, discussing the issues, encouraging the committee to make whatever amendments it wishes to make or do whatever study it wishes to do, answer responsible questions of committee members and then allow the committee to proceed with its work.

When I have been on committees where legislation has been presented the ministers have appeared. I do not know whether the committee asked the minister to appear. If it did not it should have. It is inconceivable to me that a committee would proceed with a bill without asking a minister to appear to defend the bill. Let us assume the committee did and if it did then the minister did not appear despite being requested to do so. That is wrong.

If the committee did not ask the minister to appear that also is wrong but the minister should have appeared of her own volition. If one believes strongly enough in a bill one should be there to defend the bill in front of the committee. That to me, on process, is strike three.

After considerable study, the bill went through the health committee which made numerous amendments. One presumes that those amendments were thought out, debated, perhaps even hotly debated, a consensus eventually arrived at, and the bill was brought forward to the House with the committee amendments. What happened?

The government immediately filed amendments to negate the amendments that the hard-working committee brought forward and, for all intents and purposes, offered, certainly to me, very little guidance as to why I, with my limited knowledge of the bill, should overturn amendments thoughtfully brought forward by the health committee simply because the bureaucrats in the Department of Health did not like it. That is the wrong way to approach a bill. It has happened numerous times and I am sick and tired of it.

If there is some reasonable reason for a committee amendment to be overturned then let us hear in debate from the government why it should be overturned. We are being accused in the media all the time of being trained seals, getting up and doing what we are told. That is not true and it certainly is not true on this bill.

The government wants to overturn amendments thoughtfully brought forward by the health committee. It has happened with the environment committee and the justice committee, and it should stop. If the government wants to continue doing that then it had better provide reasoned responses as to why, not just a blanket statement saying that this is not required. That is, for me, strike four on process.

To go back to a comprehensive response, if the government had tabled a comprehensive response when I originally talked about it, some of the amendments might not have even come forward because the explanations would have been there. It is a self-defeating thing for the government not to provide a comprehensive response. That is four strikes on process alone, never mind the substance of the bill.

Let us turn to the substance of the bill. It is a complicated bill. I am not a scientist but we are legislators. We are required to pass this act. The bill reminds me, and I will paraphrase, of the example of a camel being the result of a committee being asked to design a horse.

The bill is a combination of clauses drafted by the Department of Justice, by the Department of Health and by scientists. It is a hodgepodge. It is very difficult to understand. As a lawyer, I look to certainty of wording and that is what I want to talk about. Let us look at the actual bill and the words therein. I do not need to go very far into the bill in order to demonstrate what I am talking about. Let us look at the definition of embryo:

“embryo” means a human organism during the first 56 days of its development--

Human organism is a new concept. Notice that it does not say “human being”; it says “human organism”. At least for once in our statutes we are actually acknowledging that upon conception, the product of conception is human. At least that is in the bill. It is human on conception; it is a human organism.

What is the bill going to do? It will allow experimentation on humans. I cannot agree with that. In any event, at least there is a definition. It says that an embryo is a human organism during the first 56 days of its development. What a human organism is after 56 days of development is another matter.

We then go to clause 5, prohibited activities. It says, “No person shall knowingly” and it goes through a number of prohibitions, many of them using the phrase “human being”.

Human being is not defined. Why is human being not defined? Because there is a logical disconnect. It makes sense that there is a logical disconnect because we get into the issue of life and when life begins.

The minister says there is no need to define “human being”, that it is well defined in case law and therefore there is no need to define it in the statute. This is the same minister who, when she was minister of justice and I brought forward a bill to put into statute the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, said to me, “Oh yes, the government supports that concept. It is clearly defined in case law. We do not need to enshrine it in statute because the common law recognizes what marriage is”.

What has happened is that advice that was given to that minister and previous ministers and subsequent ministers by the Department of Justice is wrong. It has been proven wrong. One or two judges on one or two courts can change 150 years of case law just like that. That is exactly what has happened.

All of the lawyers who gave that advice to those justice ministers that it does not need to be put into statute should be fired. Those lawyers should try and make their living on the streets because by giving that kind of advice they would starve to death.

If the government cannot define marriage because it is defined in case law and it will never change, and a year later we are into a huge discussion of what marriage is, can we imagine what the definition of human being is? In fact, there is a definition of human being and it is in the Criminal Code. The definition of a human being is:

A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not it has breathed--

A child is not a human being according to the Criminal Code until the child is right outside its mother.

What does that mean? That means for example, in the bill a person cannot for the purpose of creating a human being make use of any human reproductive material. What if a person does not want to make a human being? What if someone just wants to make a human organism? Then there is no prohibition.

What about clause 5(1)(g):

--transplant a sperm, ovum, embryo or fetus of a non-human life form into a human being;

What if a person does not want to be transplanted into a human being as defined which is coming out of the mother's womb? What if a person wants to transplant it into something just before it comes out of the mother's womb?

There has to be a definition. Words have to be tied up. It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that the common law will cover the term “human being”.

I did not think I would talk for 20 minutes and I am shocked that I did. However, I think I have given enough reasons that the bill has to be defeated.

Fisheries April 8th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, the management of last year's Fraser River sockeye salmon fishery in British Columbia drew a lot of public criticism, especially from the commercial fishing sector. Many felt they had lost fishing opportunities during what was a run of record abundance.

Last September the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans initiated a post-season review of the 2002 salmon fishery which resulted in a report involving all industry stakeholders.

Will the minister please inform the House about this report and his response to it.