We are ashamed of our Canadian federal government. On Nov. 28, Bill C-398, the Medicines for All Bill, was defeated in the House of Commons by seven votes, 148 to 141. We needed to take some deep breaths before drafting a reasonable response. This bill would have ensured greater access to affordable medicines for people in developing countries, dying of treatable diseases such as AIDS, malaria and TB. It had the potential of saving millions of lives.
Last year a similar bill was overwhelmingly passed by Parliament. It died in the Senate when the election was called. Last year the pharmaceutical companies opposed the bill, this year they did not.
It is a travesty that the Conservative Party, having made much of its initiative on maternal and child health, turned its back on this opportunity. This year only seven courageous Conservatives supported this bill, compared with 26 who supported it last year.
Well before the vote we encouraged Dan Albas, our local member of Parliament, to do the right thing and support this bill. He did not.
Hundreds and thousands of people, including mothers and children, who need medicines to prevent suffering and death are the losers. Shame on our federal government. We expected more from them.
Judy Koe, Norma Lippa, Lynn Popoff and Rita Taenzer
Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN)