Liberal, Alliance and Bloc Quebecois MPs on the House of Commons health committee accused Canadian Institutes of Health Research president Alan Bernstein of pre-empting Parliament when it announced funding guidelines for embryonic stem cell research in March, about two months before federal Health Minister Ann McLellan was expected to introduce legislation outlining experimental and reproductive technologies legislation.

The CIHR guidelines permit federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, as well as research on cells derived from aborted babies. In December, the health committee endorsed embryonic stem cell research but only once all ethical means had be demonstrated to be have been exhausted.

Liberal MP Reg Alcock said the CIHR decision was “an end-run” around Parliament. Alliance health critic Rob Merrifield castigated Bernstein, saying “I’m absolutely appalled you can make the most important ethical decision we can make as parliamentarians.”