At a press conference on Parliament Hill, a last-minute plea was made imploring the Senate to pass Bill C-393 before an election is called. The bill would amend Canada's Access to Medicines Regime to make generic drugs more available to the developing world. As of this morning, the bill has stalled on the Senate Order Paper; Conservative Senator Stephen Greene called for an adjournment on the bill's debate.
Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth, who supports the bill, called out the Senate's Conservative leadership – Marjory LeBreton, Gerald Comeau and Consiglio Di Nino – as the biggest obstacles to the bill's moving forward. She also noted that if the government doesn't fall, which is almost certain to happen by Friday, there would be time for the bill to pass.
Liberal Senator Roméo Dallaire indicated the bill could pass second reading and head to committee, should the political will exist. It could then pass committee in a single late-night sitting and return for third reading the following day, leaving enough time for a final debate and vote before the writ drops. Nancy Ruth pointed out that the committee has a different membership from when it examined the previous CAMR bill, S-232.
As of now, C-393 is slated to receive second reading later tonight, but we have been told that it will be sent to the Social Affairs committee, not the Banking, Trade and Commerce committee that has already heard the witnesses and evidence.
The Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign has warned the government that if it continues to delay and the bill does not pass before an election, the Grandmothers will turn this into an election issue. According to Andrea Beal, the co-chair of the National Advocacy Committee of the Grandmothers, they have 10,000 members who are organized and engaged, and they will be at every candidate’s office and every election debate. The influence of the members should not be underestimated: they come from a demographic that votes in higher-than-average numbers. That makes them a force to be reckoned with on the election campaign.