Bill C-398 was designed to help improve a law passed in 2004 that was to ensure the poor in the Third-World, primarily Africa, would have better access to anti-AIDS/HIV drugs – in the form of generic drug companies. A version of this was passed last year (but died in the Senate because of the 2011 election being called), and was re-introduced. At the time, 24 Conservatives voted for it. This time, only 7 did.. with many others either not there or decided to switch their vote – no doubt under pressure from the Conservative government (free votes on private member bills are not so free when the Conservative government opposes it, it seems), with a lot of the rationale they sued being false. They claimed it was against WTO rules, but when pointed out it fell within WTO rules, they claimed it would be against the spirit of WTO rules. Translation: they decided to support the big-Pharma industry and maintaining profit margins for them over saving more lives.
That’s bad enough.. but Nathan Cullen’s tweet makes it worse, if this is true:
Just watched Cons vote to kill our bill to help get generic life-saving drugs to Africa. Many of them laughed & smiled. Shameful.
If that’s true.. and I said this to him in reply on Twitter.. he should name names and force some of those happy/go-lucky MP’s to come out and explain why they thought it hilarious they were preventing poor people from getting access to the drugs they need to fight the AIDS scourge.
Update: Good interview on CBC radio Metro Morning with Richard Elliot, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal network.