[Ip-health] "Tory senators determined to delay bill giving medical aid to Africa" (Ottawa Citizen, 23

Richard Elliott relliott at aidslaw.ca
Sat Mar 26 08:49:40 PDT 2011

March 23, 2011

Tory senators determined to delay bill giving medical aid to Africa
Debate adjourned Monday, Tuesday effort could die if an election is called
By Louisa Taylor, Ottawa Citizen 

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Tory+senators+determined+delay+bill+giving+medical+Africa/4487643/story.html#ixzz1HikrV0oD

[photograph removed]
Grandmothers and others hold a vigil on Parliament Hill Tuesday in hopes of shaming senators into passing a bill that would improve the way Canada provides low-cost HIV medication to developing countries.
Photograph by: Bruno Schlumberger, The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Citizen

The marathon effort to reform Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) may have hit another hurdle in Parliament this week, as the Conservative majority in the Senate appears poised to delay voting on Bill C-393, meaning it could die if an election is called.

The bill passed the House two weeks ago in a vote of 172 to 111, with members of Parliament from each party supporting it, including at least 26 Conservatives. This week, Senator Sharon Carstairs said Conservatives in the Senate have demonstrated they plan to kill the bill through repeated adjournments. Deliberations began in the Senate on Monday only to be adjourned by the Conservatives after a short debate. The same thing happened Tuesday, with debate slated again for today.

"Their actions speak volumes. It has been made clear to our leadership there is no rush," said Carstairs, who is the sponsor of the bill in the Senate. "It is once again a display of the abuse of Parliament. This bill passed second reading in the Senate prior to the last prorogation and spent six days in the Senate Committee on Banking. There is no reason not to send this bill to committee immediately. It cannot be argued they need time."

Senate Majority Leader Marjory LeBreton was not immediately available for comment. "We don't intend to unnecessarily delay this bill," said a spokesman in Lebreton's office. "It will be considered in due course in the normal fashion as we would with any other bill."

Bill C-393, a private member's bill sponsored by NDP MP Paul Dewar, would amend the Patent Act to make it easier for Canadian companies to produce and market generic versions of a variety of medications used to treat HIV/ AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The treatments, are too expensive for most patients in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. CAMR went into law in 2004 but advocates say it includes so much red tape, it has been ineffective. Only one drug order has been exported under the regulations.

Critics, including Canada's pharmaceutical companies, say that proves even a streamlined CAMR isn't the best way to get medicine to the people who need it.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Richard Elliott
Executive Director | Directeur général
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network | Réseau juridique canadien VIH/sida 
+1 416 595-1666 (ext./poste 229) | relliott_aidslaw
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