Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 17, 2003
Canada backs down on cloning deal
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Health Minister Anne McLellan denies that the government reneged on its commitment to support a United Nations resolution banning all forms of cloning but the Catholic Health Association of Canada (CHAC) isn't convinced.
The minister had told the House of Commons Nov. 5 that Canada would support a resolution to be presented by Costa Rica that bans therapeutic or reproductive cloning.
But Canada sat on the fence on a resolution at the UN the following day, allowing a motion to pass that will delay the issue for two years.
Canadian Alliance health critic Rob Merrifield took McLellan to task in the House of Commons noting that the vote on the motion from Islamic states Nov. 6 passed by a vote 80 to 79 with Canada abstaining. The abstention allowed the bill to pass by one vote.
The previous day "the minister of health promised the House that Canada would support a comprehensive ban, a promise that was only good for one day," Merrifield said. "Why would the minister say one thing and do another?"
McLellan replied that the Costa Rican resolution the Canadian government said it would support, "unfortunately" never made it to a vote.
The Organization of Islamic States moved to defer the issue for two years because it believed there was no consensus on the issue, she said.
"Unfortunately, because of that motion, we were unable to reach the vote on the substance of the Costa Rican motion."
James Roche, spokesperson for the CHAC, said many people "are expressing confusion and shock, even," given that the minister had announced earlier that Canada would be supporting the resolution for a comprehensive ban on human cloning.
"So to hear the next day that the Canadian delegate abstained from the vote that put it off for two years, I can't understand it, actually" he said in a CCN interview Nov. 10.
Roche also said it was disappointing that the vote on cloning was put off for two years. "It means we're going to see further progress in the area of creating human beings and embryos for research purposes and perhaps even in the area of reproductive cloning," he said.
Merrifield said outside the Commons that Canada's abstention at the UN fuels his suspicions that the government has a second agenda to allow therapeutic cloning in Canada.
Roche noted there has been pressure on the government to allow therapeutic cloning.
He added that "it's hard not to come to the conclusion" that the governments favours allowing therapeutic cloning "even though it's so contradictory to the very bill that they've put forward."