GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO BLATANTLY STALL BILL C-393 IN THE SENATE

After a speech by Conservative Senator Stephen Greene opposing Bill C-393 and a moving speech by Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer in support of the bill, Conservative Senator Claude Carignan stood up to say that Conservative Senator Larry Smith, who was absent from the chamber (but was present earlier that day in the chamber), wished to speak to the bill and therefore he was moving to further adjourn debate. This was a blatant attempt to stall this important piece of humanitarian legislation yet again. Liberal Senators demanded a recorded vote, and Bill C-393 was adjourned again by Conservative Senators in a vote of 44-36.

It is clear to us that the Conservative Government is unwilling to let Bill C-393, which would fix Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR), proceed further in the Senate. In fact, Xtra Canada has revealed that the Minister of Industry, Tony Clement, issued a memo earlier this week urging Senators to vote against Bill C-393.

This position shows contempt for Parliament — if nothing else, the Senate must study the bills that come to it with majority support in the House of Commons, not simply stall them. (Bill C-393 passed in the House of Commons recently with a vote of 172 MPs in favour and 111 against, with support drawn from all parties.)

But it also shows clear disrespect for the will of the Canadian public. A national poll found that 80% of Canadians support fixing CAMR, so that it can deliver on Canada’s pledge years of years ago to help developing countries get more affordable medicines for AIDS and other public health problems. Dozens of health professionals and scientists sent an open letter to all Parliamentarians calling on them to pass Bill C-393, as has a wide and diverse array of faith leaders from across the country, as well as dozens of eminent Canadians. Tens of thousands of Canadians have emailed, phoned or written to MPs and Senators asking them to act quickly.

Given this latest news, we must therefore redouble our efforts, which have had an amazing impact in the House of Commons. This is the final hurdle and there is no time to waste. But it is doable. The Senate must fulfill their obligation to allow this to come to a timely vote so that Bill C-393 does not die on the Order Paper (again).

PLEASE ACT NOW. THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE.

Bill C-393 will come up again today in the Senate, and will keep coming up as long as the Government keeps adjourning it. Every day they adjourn increases the likelihood of the bill dying — which literally means people dying.

Please make the following 3 calls and/or emails as soon as possible, today or tomorrow:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Telephone: 613-992-4211
Harper.S@parl.gc.ca

Senator Marjory LeBreton
Telephone: 613-943-0756 or 1-800-267-7362
Marjory.LeBreton@pco-bcp.gc.ca

Senator Gerald Comeau
Telephone: 613-943-1448 or 1-800-267-7362
comeag@sen.parl.gc.ca

Senator Larry Smith (a proposed candidate in the upcoming election)
Telephone: 613-996-8555 or 1-800-267-7362
info@votelarrysmith.ca

These are the primary targets for public pressure.

When calling the above, please express your dismay at their unwillingness to allow this to come to a vote, and your anger that lives continue to be lost to politicking. Please also take detailed notes on how they express their position on this subject so that we can continue to glean valuable information for the hours and days ahead. (Please share this information with us by sending it to Lindsey at lsimms@aidslaw.ca.)

To take further action, please visit www.LetDemocracyWin.ca and send your email in support of Bill C-393 being passed quickly in the Senate today.

With your support we can create a deluge of emails and phone calls to the offices of these key players who are currently all too comfortable with ignoring the will of the Canadian public.

For more information, visit www.aidslaw.ca/camr or follow the Legal Network on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aidslaw for updates.

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