Let Democracy Win
Over 4000 Canadians visited this website and sent emails to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and party leaders in the Senate urging them to allow Bill C-393 to be passed quickly and without unnecessary delay, particularly in light of the growing likelihood of Parliament being dissolved and the bill dying on the order paper. Unfortunately, the government ignored the voices of Canadians, including many of their own Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.
Journalists broke the story that a memo, filled with misinformation, was issued by the Minister of Industry to all Conservative Senators, urging them to defeat Bill C-393. This instruction was issued despite the fact that Bill C-393 was passed at third reading in the House by a vote of 172-111, with support from members of all parties. Consequently, day after day, Bill C-393 was prevented from moving forward to its second reading after days of stalling by certain senators.
Two votes were held in the Senate in an attempt to prevent further adjournments, but these efforts to let Bill C-393 proceed were unsuccessful.
As a result, Bill C-393 was prevented from ever coming to a final vote in the Senate and passing into law, until time ran out when Parliament was dissolved. On Saturday, March 26, Bill C-393 died on the Order Paper with the drop of the election writ.
Bill C-393 would have streamlined Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR), making it easier for Canada to export essential medicines to the people who need them to survive.
Unfortunately, this important piece of humanitarian legislation fell victim to being deliberately stalled in the Senate.
It is our hope that, during this election, supporters of CAMR reform will raise the access to medicines issue and the fate of Bill C-393 with candidates in their communities and help make sure our politicians do not shirk their humanitarian responsibility as representatives of the Canadian public.
Thank you to all Canadians who participated in this important campaign. Together we raised our collective voice and created an unprecedented surge of public support for Bill C-393. The commitment from Canadians to both this bill and to the larger cause it represents was incredible, and we will not give up -- there will be other opportunities.
Included below is a statement below released by a dozen civil society organizations in response to the demise of Bill C-393.
Ottawa, Friday, March 25, 2011 - We are profoundly disappointed that certain members of the Canadian Senate have not seen fit to swiftly pass Bill C-393 and thereby help save the lives of thousands of people dying of treatable diseases such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries.
With the drop of the writ, Bill C-393 - passed by a large majority in the House of Commons on March 9, with support from members of all parties — has again died on the Order Paper because of undue politicking. A majority of Senators have decided to reject reason and overwhelming evidence by stalling a bill that would have contributed to greater access to affordable generic medicines for those who continue to needlessly suffer and die.
Bill C-393 would have streamlined Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR) by cutting red tape that is wholly unnecessary and that has proven fatal to the future use of the system. It attracted votes in support from members of all parties in the House of Commons, reaffirming that this should be a non-partisan issue. Bill C-393 had the support of medical and legal experts, humanitarian activists, faith leaders, AIDS and international development organizations across the country and health activists in developing countries. Dozens of prominent Canadians supported the call to action, and 80% of the public supports fixing CAMR according to a national opinion poll. Recently, more than 70,000 Canadians have taken the time to sign a petition, or to email and call their MPs and Senators, urging support for Bill C-393.
It is a travesty that the Government, having made much of its initiative on maternal and child health, would now turn its back on an opportunity to help people dying of treatable diseases — and in a fashion that would cost no taxpayer money and, in fact, would make Canada’s foreign aid dollars even more effective. It is sad irony that non-governmental organizations have had to make the case for harnessing the power of competition in the market, which competition has been proven to reduce the cost of medicines for dying people in developing countries.
The bottom line is this: after nearly seven years of waiting for Canada to deliver on its pledge to help get more affordable medicines to Africa and other developing countries, the world will still have to wait — and people will die preventable deaths because too many Senators did not have the courage to do the right thing.
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