Mr. Pat Martin
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member next to me, it is too bad. We consider it a lost opportunity if the government were really soliciting input from the general public on this issue.
Other groups have welcomed the idea of dismantling the Medical Research Council of Canada and replacing it with the Canadian institutes of health research, the CIHR. The Canadians for Health Research wrote a letter recently to inform us, and I will repeat this publicly for the House, of a meeting that they will be holding here on March 22 to celebrate the creation of the new Canadian institutes of health research and the dismantling of the Medical Research Council of Canada. The letter from this organization reminds us that much of the country has been eagerly anticipating this development. It also reminds us that this will further Canada's ability to be seen as a world leader in terms of medical research.
It is not any secret that Canada's health system is the envy of the world and arguably the best not for profit and publicly funded health system in all of the world. The rest of the world watches Canada for examples of how to expand or improve their health care systems. This is another reason that what we are doing today with this bill is very timely.
This initiative expands the role of the public health care system. It is not just the delivery of medical services to people in need but the whole concept of medical research as a holistic approach to the well-being of all Canadians. Obviously this is the direction in which we should be going in the Canadian medical system.
I should repeat here some of the amendments to the bill that the member for Winnipeg North Centre thought it necessary to introduce. The government should welcome these amendments. They were made in good faith. We believe they help bring clarity to the bill and to improve some of its shortcomings.
The first amendment was Motion No. 48 in which the member for Winnipeg North Centre recommended that Bill C-13 be amended to add the words “the members of the advisory boards shall not, directly or indirectly, as owner, shareholder, director, officer”—et cetera—“have any pecuniary or proprietary interest in any business which operates in the pharmaceutical or medical devices industries”.
That is a point which really needed to be made. I am very glad the member for Winnipeg North Centre made that point. Clearly it is a conflict of interest situation. She saw that the bill was seriously flawed. It did not say anything to preclude the idea that a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical firm could end up sitting on the advisory board of one of the research organizations funded by the government. We can see how this could be a disaster.
Subtopic: Division No. 752