Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand this morning and speak to this important piece of legislation, Bill C-56.
Unfortunately, time after time in the House legislation comes in with little foundation, public support or acceptance. We have seen this with Bill C-68 which turned into such a fiasco for the government. We have seen it with Bill C-5, the species at risk act which the government apparently thinks is a good bill because everyone is angry about it. We have seen it with Bill C-15B which is being pushed by animal rights special interest groups who feel the government owes them something from the last election. We have seen it with Bill C-55, the security legislation which is a power grab that would extend the government's power and particularly the power of ministers. Why do we see so much legislation coming to the House in this way? The main reason is that the government is adrift.
Yesterday we heard the government's talking points on corruption. It continually tries to convince us that only government members know what it is like to respect this institution. Today we are dealing with a bill that has had absolutely no respect from the government and its leaders. The bill was sent to committee. The committee did a massive amount of interesting and good work. The minister took the committee's work, threw it all out and brought a different presentation to the House. This is yet another bill that has been introduced almost in a vacuum.
One reason for this is the government's desire to avoid the discussion we need. There are issues beyond this legislation that have not been adequately discussed. If we passed Bill C-56 much of the responsibility that should be parliament's would be passed on to one more bureaucracy that would be created by the bureaucracy. This would remove any opportunity for parliament to control or discuss what goes on in the field.
I will take a few minutes this morning to speak to a crucial issue and ask a couple of questions. First, what is human life and how do we treat it? How do we deal with human life? There are people who say we have talked about this enough and do not need to talk about it any more. There are others who think it is foolish to speak about it. However we need to have a discussion in Canada about what human life is and how to treat it and deal with it.
There are a number of places we can go for the discussion. Ethicists deal with these issues on a daily basis. It is their life's work. There are scientists who are deal with the issues. We need to talk with them. We need to go to historians to look back in history and see what has happened with issues of life and death. It is legitimate to talk with the different faith communities of our country because their focus is on issues of life and death. We should not cut them off from the discussion.
We need to involve political leaders. We were sent here for a reason, and that is to have this discussion. We need to go to regular people and get their opinions as my hon. colleague from Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke did so well. In the last few minutes she read a number of the comments she got from her survey. We also need to go to business participants because there is a business component to the legislation that needs to be discussed.
Bill C-56 comments on what human life is and how we should treat it. I will go through a couple of the bill's definitions. Under Bill C-56 an embryo:
--means a human organism during the first 56 days of its development--
Interestingly, a fetus under the bill:
--means a human organism during the period of its development beginning on the fifty-seventh day following fertilization or creation...and ending at birth.
The definitions in the bill indicate that the government is willing to consider the embryo and the fetus as human organisms. I will continue the definition along its logical path: Perhaps a baby means a human organism during the period of development from birth to two or three years; a child means a human organism during the period of development from three years to 18 years; and an adult means a human organism during the period of development from 18 years to natural death. All we are talking about are different stages of development of the same human organism.
Does the human organism consist only of biological material that we can deal with as we choose, or is there something unique about it? Scientists and sociologists can take us apart and show us piece by piece that we are similar to animals. We have physical systems that function similarly. Because of that, research is done on animals that we can apply and use when dealing with human situations and illnesses.
Many throughout history have argued and understood that the total of what constitutes a human organism is far more than the sum of its individual parts. Most successful cultures and civilizations have believed men and women to be unique. Many religious systems have been predicated on the assumption. Many scientific discoveries have come from the hypothesis.
We need to have a discussion about the issue because we are not only setting the stage for a bill. We are talking about legislating attitudes toward human beings in our society. The conclusion we reach in the House about the issue will have great consequences for Canadian society and culture.
Throughout the last century we saw what happened when governments decided individual human beings were not unique and were only basic economic units. In university I was bombarded for three years with Mr. Marx's political theory which states that all events can be analyzed from an economic perspective and that human beings fit into the same analysis.
We have seen Marx's theory lived out under socialist governments throughout the last century and in this century. There has been more brutality under such systems than under any other. Let us look at Mr. Stalin. To gain control of a segment of his economic society he completely destroyed the middle class agricultural community by starving it to death. The individuals in that society were worth nothing to him because he needed to achieve an economic goal.
We have seen this in China which continues to persecute people and deny human rights. The individual means nothing under China's system as it tries to keep its economic structure moving along. We have see it in Sudan where war is being waged against individuals for the sake of profit. When weak positions are taken regarding human uniqueness, individuality and creativity there is a loss of compassion for other people.
We are not immune to this. The Liberal government has refused to deal with a number of issues involving the value of human life. About six weeks ago several MPs had the privilege of meeting with a number of police officers, customs officials and others who deal with the issue of child pornography. These people are fed up with the government's attitude and its refusal to deal with the issue. Anyone who has seen such material and understands what is going on in the lives of those children knows something needs to be done immediately. Yet the government insists on doing nothing. It has failed to move. Child pornography is repugnant and abhorrent. The Liberal government's failure to deal with the issue touches the heart of how it views its citizens.
There are a couple of other questions we need to deal with and talk about. We need to look at the idea of when human life begins. Our present law says human life begins at birth. This is nonsense. It is ridiculous from a number of perspectives, particularly a scientific perspective. The beginning of human life is at conception when the union of genetic material occurs and completion of the DNA package takes place.
Science has thrown a red herring into the whole discussion by arbitrarily choosing a number, day 14, as the point where the embryo becomes something more than it was on day 13. They want to be able to continue experimentation during the first 13 days so they suggest something happens on the 14th day that makes the embryo a different being. That is not the case.
Scientists have failed to address the issue of when life begins. They run the risk of disqualifying themselves by not dealing honestly with the issue. As we heard earlier this morning, for many of them the issue has become an opportunity to make a quick buck. It has become an economic decision rather than a scientific or ethical one.
My time is winding down. We will be addressing a number of other issues when the bill comes back to parliament. I will talk later about what human life is worth. We talked a bit about whether it is unique and when it begins. However what is it worth? Parliament needs to look at what we consider to be the value of human beings in our culture.
There are two interesting and ironic business realities in the legislation. Under Bill C-56 surrogate mothers would be paid absolutely nothing. They would not be allowed to make money from their commitment to surrogacy. On the other hand, companies in Canada would be allowed to make millions of dollars from research.