NOTES FOR REMARKS BY SENATOR JIM MUNSON ON BILL C-6
Today I would like to speak briefly in support of Bill C-6 respecting assisted human reproduction. Bill C-6 is an important piece of legislation because it protects women and couples who are making their way through the difficult decisions and treatments related to infertility. It is also important legislation because it will determine, to some extent, the success of our government’s innovation agenda.
Across Canada there are scientists ready to get to work on stem cell research – research that promises new treatments for diseases that affect hundreds of thousands of Canadians. Our brightest minds are waiting for us to do our work so that they can get down to their work.
Make no mistake. Bill C-6 will not unleash mad scientists and lead to unethical genetic experiments. This legislation is balanced. It respects the values of Canadians by banning human cloning, sex selection, commercial surrogate motherhood contracts, and the sale of sperm and eggs. This Bill sets out rules on embryonic stem cell research. It puts in place a legislative framework within which scientists and researchers will work to open the door to new knowledge.
Stem cells hold great promise for the regeneration and repair of tissues and organs damaged by trauma or disease. We must not block the way and prevent efforts to improve the quality of life of the more than 10,000 people over 65 with Alzheimer’s disease, the more than 100,000 people with Parkinson’s disease, the 37,000 Canadians with spinal cord injuries, and the countless people with juvenile diabetes, muscular dystrophy, osteoarthritis, or heart disease. This bill opens the door to a better quality of life for so many Canadians. It is not for us, Senators, to slam that door shut.
Bill C-6 also opens a door to our future by making good on our commitment to make Canada a hub of innovation and R&D. Canada has already made many contributions in the area of stem cell research which have improved bone marrow transplantation in the treatment of leukemia and other blood disorders, as well as improving skin grafts for burn victims, and helping grow new corneas for the visually-impaired. We have the people and the resources. It is up to us, Senators, to give them the go-ahead.
Canada has many more contributions to make and it will take many years of research to get there. Three out of four Canadians – from all religions, all political stripes, income levels, education, and regions of the country — support the use of stem cells derived from spare embryos for medical and scientific research.
Embryonic research will not disappear. It will simply move to other shores – along with some of our best and brightest researchers. If we do not pass this bill, we will be taking a step backward.
Senators, this bill has been discussed and debated for more than ten years. It has been the subject of consultations at all levels. Everyone has had a chance to be heard. Now is the time to act. I urge you to support innovation. I urge you to support this bill.