Tories playing politics with drugs bill: NDP

NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere speaks to the media in Ottawa on February 16, 2012....

NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere speaks to the media in Ottawa on February 16, 2012. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI Agency)

Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 6:34 PM ET

OTTAWA -- The New Democrats are accusing the Tories of playing partisan politics with a bill that would give the world's poorest countries easier access to Canadian generic drugs.

But Industry Minister Christian Paradis said Tuesday private-member's bill C-398 wouldn't accomplish what it sets out to do.

"We are all for the virtue but this bill is not the vehicle to get there," he said, rhyming off a series of initiatives Ottawa has implemented to provide health care and drugs to developing nations.

Paradis added Canada would contravene World trade Organization rules if it passed the bill - something advocacy and legal groups say isn't true.

NDP MP Helene Laverdiere - the bill's sponsor - is now doing last-minute lobbying before parliamentarians vote Wednesday on whether to send it to committee.

"This bill will save lives, this bill will save children - there is a moral imperative to this bill," she said.

In 2004, The House passed Canada's Access to Medicine Regime, which was intended to improve access to Canadian generic drugs for treating diseases such as HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis in Africa and other poor regions.

Generic drug companies claim red tape is preventing them from shipping more drugs under the regime. Only two batches have been shipped overseas since 2004.

Laverdiere's private-member's bill aims to cut some of that red tape.

A similar bill went to the Senate in 2011 but died on the order paper when the federal election was called. A number of Tory MPs who supported that version of the legislation appear poised to vote against it this time.

 


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