Mr. Speaker, I always like to follow my hon. friend across the way because he speaks from the heart. He does not use notes. He has not read the Bible aloud to us or tried to put something into the bill that is not there. It is always a delight to hear his down home type of spin on everything and his personalization of the various people who affect his life. I always appreciate that and I like to follow him because I do not have notes either.
I am reminded of the Irish people during the war. They were told that they were neutral. They wanted to know who they were neutral against. Bill C-56 reminds me of that type of a scenario. It has all the elements of research and development. Some of the items of abortion have been brought in as well as some items on how to treat disease and the hope that genetic research will provide for an eradication of disease. It has elements of everything.
As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence I do not get an opportunity very often to express my views from both my own religion, which is Roman Catholic, and that of my family. We have two adopted children. My wife has taught in the separate school system. We believe that life begins at conception so I do not have any problem with that. It is not something I have to debate with anyone. Those are my beliefs and people should take them for what they are. I do not think anyone will ask me to vote against my conscience. If they do, then those are the breaks of the game. My conscience is my conscience and I will have to live with it.
A lot of people would like to say that if a member is a Liberal, he or she is this, or if a member is a Liberal he or she is something else. We get pushed into some kind of a slot. Sometimes if we vote against the government we are perceived as voting with the opposition. The Prime Minister has said to me on many occasions that I can vote with my conscience. That is what I am here for. However, when we are voting on something like this, Bill C-56, we must take a look at what group of people sent us here. Do they agree or disagree?
On gun control it was easy for me. I did a survey. I am a gun owner. I have hunted and had the odd deer die in front of me from various causes. I had trouble with the gun control bill because I thought that I would have to vote against it. However, when I did the survey in my riding 51% of the people were in favour of gun control and 49% were against it. I received letters with bullet holes from people who were so passionate that they wanted to let me know how they felt about it. Therefore if I voted yes or I voted no who was I serving? That is what I am dealing with here.
My constituency is evenly split. I have received many e-mails and my website has had lots of hits on it. People have sent me letters, e-mails and snail mail. All kinds of different things have come through. For every letter that I get that is in favour of the bill I get one that is against it. We have people who are sometimes motivated out of fear thinking that somehow if we vote in favour of this particular piece of legislation we are against motherhood.
There are other people who are desperate for the research because we have excellent researchers in Canada. Sometimes we tend to think that our researchers are not that prominent in the world. However, if we look at the Salk vaccine and the many things that Canadians have accomplished over the years we can see that we have excellent researchers. We must not bridle them. We must ensure that our researchers are allowed to carry on.
I have been a board of director of a hospital. I have sat on health committees. I have chaired the committee on HIV-AIDS which studied poverty and discrimination. Whether it is Lou Gehrig's disease, cancer, or whatever it is that can benefit from the research that would be involved in Canada by top-notch researchers, I would think we would all be in favour of ensuring that our research continue to be among the best in the world.
Yesterday was a full day of debate on the bill. I read the speeches given by the former leader of the opposition who quoted the Bible and members of NDP who are interested in an opposite view. Some have the same view as the former leader of the opposition. Some of our own members are divided on this issue. There is no clear path here.
Moratorium in French means to kill it. We may run into some wording problems with the Bloc because its idea of moratorium is different than the English version of moratorium. In English moratorium means to delay but in French it is a full-fledged killing. We cannot allow that word to creep in here.
A moratorium is not the answer. Somewhere along the line we will have to decide if the bill is votable according to our conscience or according to the will of our constituents. None of us are going to find a strong view from the scientific world if we are based in rural Canada. Let us face it, rural Canadians that I live with go to the big teaching hospitals in the cities. That is where most of the research is done, whether it is the London, Toronto or Hamilton hospitals that are doing great work in research.
Those hospitals are not looking at the ethics of it but certainly what the medical results could be. Sometimes that scares me because we then tend to take human life at less value than it is made for us. We must take human life at its highest amount of dollar value, but particularly emotional value. To me human life is precious from conception to natural death. If anti-abortionists or abortionists want to argue with my two adopted children, they can give a pretty good argument in favour of life from conception to natural death. That is not a problem with me in my Christian views.
I want to ensure that somewhere within the confines of the bill we are able to deal with the ethical and moral problems that we all face but with the value of the research, and the value of the strength and talent of the medical community throughout Canada. I also want to ensure that we do not put handcuffs on researchers. We must ensure research and development and embryonic research goes ahead and that it is brought to its fullest to assist life as it now exists.