An Act to amend the Patent Act

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

Sponsor

David Emerson  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Patent Act to permit the correction of past incorrect fee payments in certain situations and provides that the standing committee of each House of Parliament shall consider candidates for appointment to the advisory committee.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Quarantine ActRoyal Assent

May 5th, 2005 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

May 5, 2005

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Marie Deschamps, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in her capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 5th day of May, 2005, at 4:03 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

The Schedule provides that the Royal Assent was given to Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act—Chapter 17, and to Bill C-29, An Act to amend the Patent Act—Chapter 18.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2005 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the remarks made by the New Democratic Party's spokesperson. I want to state unequivocally that the official opposition supports Bill C-29. The Senate amendments to this bill are very important.

For clarification, the first part of Bill C-29 amends the act to allow the other place and not just the House of Commons to assess and recommend potential candidates for the committee of experts. The second part of the act deals with patent fees and entity size.

All of this deals with trying to address the necessary drugs to combat AIDS in Africa. Certainly it is a very worthwhile initiative of the former government. It is interesting that it was former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien who undertook this initiative some time ago. Yet here we are in this Parliament, long after Mr. Chrétien has departed, still debating amendments to this piece of legislation.

Despite our support for the amendments to the legislation, I am very concerned about the time lapse we are dealing with. I wonder if my colleague is likewise concerned and questions why it would take so long to get this legislation in place.

One of the amendments, by the way, came about because of the Conservative Party's intervention at the committee stage. It shows that the Conservatives have been very involved in this process, just as the other parties have been involved. I do not think any of the political parties in this place has a monopoly on compassion, not only compassion for those in need here in Canada but compassion for those who suffer in faraway lands.

I wonder if my colleague from the New Democratic Party shares my concern. In the past government, not only under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien but also since the existing Prime Minister took over the reins of power, the Liberal Party, unlike now, enjoyed a majority. It certainly had the wherewithal to force through all sorts of legislation. It had that power and used it quite often. I have been here for almost 12 years now and I certainly saw the Liberals exercise that power by closing down debate on some controversial pieces of legislation.

It strikes me as odd that on something that has such wide-ranging support, the government would be reluctant to move that expeditiously through the process. It could have put it through in the last Parliament. The actual legislation could have been drafted properly so that we did not have to come back with another piece of legislation like Bill C-29 to make amendments to it to try and perfect it, as my colleague from the New Democratic Party has pointed out.

I am curious as to whether he, like me, is concerned about the time lapse and questions why the Liberal government would not have put this through long ago.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2005 / 1:05 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak today to Bill C-29, an important bill for which the country can be proud. However, with due honesty and respect for the operations of the House, we must take responsibility for the bill's delay. It has taken over 550 days to actually do something for the world.

I want to revisit some of the history and impress upon the House that once the bill is passed we have an obligation to ensure that it actually has results. The changes in the legislation may not produce the desired response.

I would first like to start by thanking the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Stephen Lewis, as well as the NGOs, Doctors Without Borders, the HIV-AIDS Legal Network and a number of different organizations that worked diligently for years to get this to the forefront of Canadian public policy.

Unfortunately, the legislation has been fraught with a number of different delays that are literally causing suffering and preventing us from being part of a solution.

We need to recognize that in Africa, as one example, 6,000 people die from HIV-AIDS per day and 11,000 contract HIV-AIDS daily. When we first had the opportunity to address the bill it was back on November 6, 2003. The WTO made a decision in 2003 that gave generic companies a brief patent for a specific area that would allow them to produce life-saving medications for tuberculosis, malaria, HIV-AIDS and other types of diseases that affect populations in third world and developing nations to be able to access newer drugs before patent protection expires.

It is important to point out that the bill would not even be necessary if the pharmaceutical industry would do more, take less profit and produce the drugs right now to get them out to those organizations and groups. What we are providing is the opportunity for the generic companies to fill that gap but that has created many complications.

The bill was first tabled as Bill C-56 in the dying days of the Chrétien government on November 6, 2003. It was not passed because of serious concerns by NGOs and health communities. It was really different in terms of its format at that particular time. A lot of people who came forward back then said that if we were going to be serious about this and pass legislation that it would have to be done properly.

What is really unfortunate is that almost two years later we are still faced with problems in the bill that we are dealing with today.

On February 12, 2004 the bill was reintroduced as Bill C-9. None of the changes and concerns noted by politicians, NGOs and health care advocates were changed in over three months since it was first introduced. When the bill died as Bill C-56 and came back as Bill C-9 there were three months in between where there was lobbying, negotiations and submissions but not a single word was changed in the bill. We were very disappointed to see that. We had been telling the government of the day that it had to make these amendments for the bill to actually work. Amendments included everything from delisting certain specific drugs and delisting countries so there would be a proper process.

This has been backed up by the WTO ruling that allows for that but the government has an ingrained philosophy for patent protection that is not necessary and has thus delayed and complicated the legislation. Hence we are still here today.

Bill C-9 was given royal assent on May 14, 2004 after the government finally made many of the changes required to make the bill workable. The only unfinished work was the regulations.

All parties in the committee worked very diligently together. There was a difference of opinion and heated arguments. I submitted over 100 amendments. We heard many different witnesses and had a bridging of differences by all political parties to at least come to a bill that would be moved at that point in time. There was a lot of pressure to get that done quickly.

On December 8, 2004, Bill C-29 was introduced in the House and was passed by the House of Commons on February 10, 2005, a little over a year from when Bill C-9 was introduced. I guess we are still seeing the problems that are delaying the bill, continuing to plague its final implementation. It relates specifically to regulations.

A lot of times I guess it is the technical elements that many Canadians do not understand. We are moving a lot of legislation, the mechanisms that really give it teeth and character, to regulations which are often outside the general workable parliamentary systems. When we move things to regulations parliamentarians give up the rule setting that often affects the effectiveness of a bill, the purpose of it and very much the character of it. That is what has happened to this particular bill.

Bill C-29 contains an amendment that would allow Senate committee members to sit on the committee that would decide the membership of the committee who would decide when pharmaceutical products would be eligible for export. There is an advisory panel that was created. As a New Democrat I cannot agree with the Senate. At the time I did not agree with it participating in the bill but it is being added. We are not going to object to it here but that is what happened. It went to the Senate. It was left out but it has put itself on it now as part of a regulatory body that will decide what drugs could be eligible.

This is where we get into a grey area and makes us very concerned about whether it is going to be effective or not. We could have certain drugs that may not be allowed to be vetted through this process, drugs that different countries could use to treat different diseases. There are often new drugs that have complex and different types of compounds that are brought together, maybe two or three drugs brought together, that are very effective in treating HIV or AIDS, for example. They are cutting edge drugs. They could be very effective. Their availability may not get listed but those drugs really could affect real positive change for people who are suffering right now.

I have to reiterate that it is because the expected profit margin in those drugs is so high the countries cannot purchase them. Government organizations cannot afford to distribute them. It is not all of the pharmaceutical industry. There are plenty pharmaceutical companies that are donating to certain programs but it is not enough. Once again, we are only having to do this because there is a wide gap regarding what they are willing to supply at low cost and hence we are asking the generic industry to fill the void for a small profit.

In March the government found a technical error that jeopardized the entire feasibility of the bill. It is amazing to look back after a year and a half to realize we have not seen the progress we really wanted. Once again it is really interesting to note that it has been approximately 550 days since this idea came to this place and it has been marred at the expense, I believe, of the Canadian reputation to participate in drug relief. It was interesting and really captured by the title of Jean Chrétien's aid to Africa bill but what people need to understand is that there are many nations outside of Africa that could also participate in the program. That is why we are hopeful it can work. There are other nations and I would give the good example of East Timor. We had to fight to get it on the list. The country has suffered recently in the last decade because of genocide. It has had a lot of turmoil politically. It has had a lot of difficulty with regard to malaria and tuberculosis. It was left off the list.

This is once again where we disagree. The WTO ruling that originally created the ability for this to take place and for Canada to get involved did not call for a have to be list so we created lists that have caused some problems. But just so people understand, it is not just Africa that could benefit from the relief program but actually other developing nations that would find benefits if it works.

In summary, I just want to say that as New Democrats we very much support this. We want to make sure the government understands that there is an onus for us to steer this in Parliament. The fact of the matter is that it has taken so long to get to this point in time and place and it gives me some concern that if the bill does not work that we are going to wash our hands of it. That is a real concern because if we cannot actually have a bill that is practical and that works, then what was the point of all this?

I do not want to be part of a bad public relations exercise for the world. I want to be part of changing it. I think that we have the technology and the capability to have the generic industries fill a very important gap and avoid a lot of suffering. I know the previous speaker was very eloquent in talking about the fact that in Africa a good example is that it is losing its whole institutional learning infrastructure because so many teachers are sick and there is no one to train new ones as replacements.

When we talk with Stephen Lewis about what is happening there, we learn that it is literally children taking care of children. They are losing the parenting ability that they once had to tutelage them through difficult times in life, to be there for them and to ensure they can provide for their families. They are losing this institutional knowledge of how to even operate as a society because the professionals and all the people who make up everything from law and order, education and public safety related to infrastructure are being infected with HIV-AIDS and are passing away. They cannot bring people in quick enough or train them quick enough to fill the gap. It is a spiral. It creates conditions for greater disease and greater conflict. It also provides a festering of the disease that could be eliminated.

We need to understand that these drugs that we are talking about can provide the stability necessary so people can live in decency and live longer lives. They can then create the centre of gravity that is necessary for their countries to rebound from this terrible disease of HIV-AIDS. There are other disease such as malaria and tuberculosis that are affecting other developing nations. We can cure these diseases right now if people have access to medications.

There are terrific non-governmental organizations out there which are a great conduit. They have already built up their credibility in terms of the local communities to assist people with their medications. They have built up their credibility internationally to exercise the necessary procedures and the procurement of funds, be they donations from people, companies or governments. On that note I wish we would fulfill our obligations.

We have all of that right now. What is missing is the sense of stability that the drugs can create. This is something I hope the bill, if passed, will do. If we do not, we will be seen as very irresponsible. At the end of the day if the government has a bill that does not work, then we will have misled the world for the past two years. We have then provided a false sense of hope.

There is an obligation on the members of this House to watch very diligently what is happening. We should not just put it to regulations or send it to a committee that might report back once every three years as I believe is in the legislation. If the legislation does not work, if the generic industries cannot get the deals they need and if the government agencies and the NGOs cannot get the programs underway, then we must revisit this as a priority.

What we have done is created a whole set of expectations. I do not want to be a part of a country that cannot fulfill those expectations.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2005 / 12:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is quite evident that a bill such as this is reflective of the important business that Parliament is expected to work on. It flows from the same kind of initiatives included in our budget and in other initiatives. Bill C-29 is a bill which Canadians feel strongly should receive swift passage.

The member is well travelled and has been very active on the file. The plight of the unfortunate around the world has been a significant preoccupation of the government for many years. The principles which Canadians would like to see us reflect in the activities that we do abroad include such things as helping those most in need. That is why I am a Liberal. Our first priority is to help those most in need first.

I would like the member to comment philosophically on why he believes it is important for generous and prosperous countries such as Canada to make contributions internationally for the well-being of the citizens of other less fortunate countries, particularly children, and how that translates into long term benefits to Canada itself.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2005 / 12:50 p.m.
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Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is a real privilege to speak on this particular issue which is close to my heart. Having been to Africa and seen the devastation wrought by an absence of primary health care in these countries, the devastation that AIDS has wrought, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, I want to say how important this bill is to some of the most impoverished, challenged and threatened people in the world.

If we look at the world right now, particularly developing countries, one of the top three challenges that developing countries have is: how do they get basic medications; how do they get medications that will save lives, prevent deformities from occurring, and just prevent people from becoming disabled.

In my experience I have seen this up close and personal in very tragic ways. Can members imagine that the absence of a few dollars for antibiotics could save a person's life, a person's limb, a person's hand, enable them to live a life, be employed, and be integrated as opposed to being shunned, dying, begging, getting sick or even dying? But that is what happens.

After receiving a simple cut that has become infected, we go to the doctor, get a prescription, and receive medications. If we were to go to many developing countries, the absence of $5.00 of medications would do this: the cut becomes infected, the infection becomes septic, and then the doctors on the ground, if that person is lucky enough to see a doctor, have a decision to make, do they amputate that limb or do they let the person die? The absence of $5.00 of antibiotics causes this crisis.

Having seen it, it is profoundly tragic to see people, young people, who have had their legs and arms amputated in the absence of $5.00 of antibiotics that could be made for pennies. That is what we are speaking about here.

I want to move to the fact that people getting cuts in developing countries get simple illnesses that become fatal. The absence of those basic medications causes such trauma and such devastation that it results in mortality and morbidity figures that are well beyond what we would ever come to accept as being rational. This is the challenge that we are faced with.

This bill would enable Canada to take a leading role in ensuring that basic medications would get to developing countries to save those people's lives.

Can members imagine not having our children immunized? I have been to developing countries where measles, mumps and rubella are still a factor. We have just seen that polio has had a resurgence, and I have seen some cases. Can members imagine what would happen if we did not have medications in our own country? That is the reality of hundreds of millions of people, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 750 million people live. The absence of basic medications results in the death of babies, children, adults, and mortality and morbidity figures that would be unthinkable.

Preventable diseases are not prevented. Simply treatable diseases are not treated. People die or are maimed as a result of that, causing devastating effects in those countries.

We know, for example, that in sub-Saharan Africa there are countries where up to 50% or more of the people are HIV positive. In Botswana 52% of the female population between the ages of 16 and 25 are HIV positive. That results in a massive death rate and a sea of orphans. Teachers are being wiped out on the continent. Who teaches children? Adults are being wiped out of the working force which is eviscerating the economic potential and abilities of these countries to get on their feet. All for the absence of a rational prevention mechanism, the absence of condoms and the absence of antiretrovirals that not only prevent the transmission from mother to baby but also prevents these people from living lives that could go on for much longer.

The cost of ARVs have gone down quite substantially and, as a result, this is something that is imminently doable. All it requires is for the international community to get behind this.

The bill should be passed forthwith. It would be an extraordinary example to the world, particularly in view of the fact that the G-8 summit will be taking place in Scotland this summer. It is important that the House pass the bill quickly, so that we can go to the G-8 summit and let it know what Canada has done so other countries could follow suit.

An intriguing proposal has come forward from Health Partners International of Canada in Montreal. This proposal would give a $7 million tax incentive to pharmaceutical companies. We would then get from the pharmaceutical companies the equivalent of over $132 million worth of needed medications. Those medications would be driven not by what pharmaceutical companies want to give, but by what countries demand. The medications would be demand driven by the countries.

Pharmaceutical companies are on side to do this. A $7 million tax incentive would enable them to give $132 million worth of basic medications which would save thousands of lives. A similar process is occurring in the U.K. right now with pharmaceutical companies there. It would be wonderful if we could take this plan to the G-8 summit and make it happen.

A lot of exciting things are happening in my government. This particular bill is not only innovative, but I would suggest that it is inspirational. It is inspirational because it deals with one of the most pressing, challenging and important problems affecting the poorest people in the world. Bill C-29 would provide basic medications to the people most in need in the world, so they can work, go to school, and their children can live and grow up. Bill C-29 would save lives.

I hope all opposition parties will support this legislation because at the end of the day it will save lives. What could be more important than that?

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2005 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, my friend in the Bloc Québécois is absolutely correct. This legislation was introduced in the final period of Jean Chrétien's administration. He professed a great deal of interest in trying to help nations in Africa and other least developed nations.

When this legislation was introduced our House leader, the current member for West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast--Sea to Sky Country, approached the Bloc Québécois and the NDP and there was agreement among all opposition parties to pass it in one day. Interestingly, the government said no. This was government legislation and the opposition was willing to pass it in one day, yet the government would not agree. It said there were problems with the legislation.

The member asked me if it was an administrative problem or a question of other issues or just normal delay in the House. I am trying to be fair and diplomatic, but it was a question of government incompetence. The government could not put together a piece of legislation right from the beginning. I believe other parties would agree that it was a question of government incompetence. It is ironic because the government is fond of saying the opposition does not want to make Parliament work. Bill C-29 has shown the exact opposite. Members of the opposition were willing to work with the government to make this work.

My colleague from Windsor and the Bloc member who asked the question worked hard at committee to get Bill C-29 through committee as soon as possible. It came back to the House with amendments. The government forgot to include a schedule so it has to be amended again.

I have spoken to this legislation about five times in the House and have said essentially the same thing. We support it and we want it to go through as quickly as possible.

The government should be ashamed at how long it has taken to get this legislation through. It should do its job henceforward. However, there may be a new government sooner rather than later that would ensure that people in the least developed nations would get the medicine they need. There would be no incompetence that would hold up a good piece of legislation such as this bill.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2005 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to again discuss this bill. As members of the House know, we have seen this bill many times and in many forms. It is a bill which members of all parties can take some pride. We worked together on an issue as serious as this in terms of trying to get cheaper medicines into least developed nations by amending the Patent Act.

For the parliamentary secretary's information, I was asking more about the infrastructure that is helping to ensure that these medicines get to the people who need them and that they do the most good when they get there.

A lot of the people from the non-governmental organizations, like Médecins Sans Frontières, the global AIDS fund, Oxfam and others, came before us and said it is one thing to allow for cheaper medicines, but it is another thing to ensure that the system is in place. We have the physicians and nurses, but we should also ensure that people are taking these medicines with an adequate diet, a clean water supply, and know how to take the medicines properly. If they do not take them properly, it can act in the exact opposite way and make them immune to treatment. I encourage the government to ensure that through CIDA and other departments, agencies and organizations it continues to work with the NGOs to ensure that the medicines actually arrive and do some good.

When this bill was introduced in the past Parliament, every opposition party was willing to pass this legislation in one day. Unfortunately, it has taken the government four times to get this legislation right. That reveals a lot about this Parliament and the last Parliament. In fact, there were people in all parties who through goodwill have tried to move forward on this issue. It says something about the government. It brought the bill forward and reintroduced amendments in committee. Now it has reintroduced amendments again to its own piece of legislation which had unanimous opposition support from the first day it was introduced.

It should be pointed out to the Canadian people that there are parties like the Conservative Party that are very willing to work with all other parties on issues of concern to Canadians. I certainly commend my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois and the NDP who worked on this issue. I know they put a lot of effort into this as well. To be fair, the current Minister of Labour and Housing was quite instrumental in committee in trying to shepherd some of these amendments.

I want to give a brief overview of this issue. It is about trying to enable generic manufacturers to manufacture medicines, which are still under the 20 year patent protection, at lower cost, so a lot of the individuals in the least developed nations will be able to reduce the cost in terms of what they actually pay for these medicines. It is important because it allows generic manufacturers to step in not only from Canada but from other nations.

We should also recognize the efforts that a lot of the brand name manufacturers have made. I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of GSK, GlaxoSmithKline, in the United Kingdom. One of the things it talked about was river disease in Africa. I believe it has dealt with about 20 million people and has been able to combat that disease. Its goal is to eradicate it within about 20 years. We should recognize its efforts, as well as Merck Frosst's efforts in Botswana. This is an issue which people and companies of goodwill can certainly have an impact on.

We supported Bill C-29 and the Jean Chrétien pledge to Africa act in the last Parliament and we support these amendments. We hope that this bill will finally be passed and become law. The Conservative Party is showing an awful lot of goodwill by putting up one speaker and ensuring the bill goes through in an hour to an hour and a half of debate.

I encourage the government to work with the NGOs to ensure that the infrastructure is in place. I encourage it to keep an accounting and then report to Canadians on what progress has been made.

I was trying to make another point to the parliamentary secretary. The government should keep track of how much medicine actually goes to these nations under this legislation so that we can be accountable to Canadians. We should be able to tell them in 2006, 2007, and in subsequent years that under legislation which was enacted in 2005, how many people were helped, how much medicine was produced, and how much money went globally to fight the horrific challenging diseases of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV-AIDS.

We in the Conservative Party support these amendments. We support the goal of this legislation. We would like to see it succeed.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2005 / 4:55 p.m.
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Chatham-Kent—Essex Ontario

Liberal

Jerry Pickard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as hon. colleagues will recall, Bill C-29 proposes remedial technical amendments to both the Patent Act and the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa.

The Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa, which received royal assent on May 14, 2004, implements an August 30, 2003, decision of the World Trade Organization allowing developed countries such as Canada to adopt legislation authorizing the production of low cost generic versions of patent medicines for export to least developed and developing countries unable to produce their own.

Those who are familiar with the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa may recall that the legislation contained four schedules, which are to be annexed into the Patent Act. Schedule 1 sets out various pharmaceutical products which are eligible for the export licences under the regime and schedules 2, 3 and 4 set out various classes of the least developed and developing countries which would be eligible for these products.

However, because of an oversight in the drafting of these various schedules, they became divorced from the enacting clause, with the result that there is no legal authority by which to annex them to the Patent Act. If this oversight were not fixed, the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa could still come into force but there would be no products eligible for export and no countries to send them to.

In other words, unless the schedules are properly annexed, the Patent Act and the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa cannot be made operational. This oversight, although fundamental from a policy perspective, is a simple technical one from the legal perspective and it lends itself to the simple technical, albeit legislative, solution. The amendment setting forth that solution was introduced and adopted during the examination of Bill C-29 by the committee at the other place.

As a result, the text of the bill now before us differs from the one that appeared before the House in two very minor but critically important ways. First, new section 2.1 provides that the Patent Act shall be amended by adding schedules 1 to 4 of the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa to the end of the legislation, that is, after section 103. Second, new subsection 3(1) provides that both of the provisions in Bill C-29 that deal with the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa would come into force on the same day as the latter instrument.

I should add that the oversight that gave rise to the need for these changes was discovered only very recently and not in sufficient time to bring forward the necessary amendments while Bill C-29 was initially under examination in this House.

In fairness to the government on this point, it will be recalled that the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa received royal assent only three months after it was introduced in the House in the last Parliament. That was a very busy period during which there were a number of amendments made to the bill by all parties.

Quite simply, no one involved with this legislation, from the legislative drafters and the stakeholders who were intimately involved to the members of Parliament examining the bill in committee, caught the technical oversight. Even Carswell's 2005 edition of the Patent Act overlooked it.

While the version of Bill C-29 which we are considering today differs marginally from the one seen and approved in this House earlier, the underlying technical remedial objectives remain the same. I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting Bill C-29 as amended by the other place so that it may enjoy the swift passage that characterized the progress of the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa through both Houses during the last Parliament.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 3rd, 2005 / 4:55 p.m.
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Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberalfor the Minister of Industry

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-29, an act to amend the Patent Act.

Presence in GalleryBusiness of the House

April 21st, 2005 / 3 p.m.
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Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we will continue this afternoon with second reading of Bill C-38, the civil marriage bill. This will be followed by consideration of Senate amendments of Bill C-29, the patent bill, and Bill C-12, the quarantine bill.

We will then return to second reading of Bill C-43, the budget bill, and eventually the third readings of: Bill C-23, the HRDC bill; Bill C-22, the social development bill; Bill C-26, the border services bill; and Bill C-9, the Quebec development bill.

Tomorrow we will begin with Bill C-43. If this is completed, we will then return to the list just given.

Next week is a break week. Since it happens to coincide this year with Passover, I would like to take this opportunity to extend to Canadians of the Jewish faith best wishes on this holiday.

After today there are 35 sitting days for the House before its scheduled adjournment on June 23. The government hopes that the House will be able to complete all stages of Bill C-38 and Bill C-43 by that date, which means that the bills will have to go to and be reported from committees in time for report stage and third reading in that limited time. That is why we have given priority to these bills in order to arrive at the supply votes.

The government is obliged to designate by that date 6 of those 35 days as allotted days or opposition days. Since we do not face the logistical and timing difficulties that I have just described vis-à-vis these two major bills, it seems logical and sensible to ask the House to deal with those second readings before proceeding with business such as opposition days, which are not followed by subsequent legislative stages.

If the members opposite would not be so sneaky in trying to change the Standing Orders, in fact, we could perhaps have the kind of dialogue that the hon. member is suggesting we have.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

February 10th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, without taking all the time remaining to me, I would like to get to my conclusion.

In my speech on this important bill, I mentioned all the contributions made by the hon. member for Windsor West to the former Bill C-9. It is a very important act, which, as we know, is affected by Bill C-29.

Bill C-29, an act to amend the Patent Act does speak to pharmaceutical patents, but in addition—and that is unfortunate—it amends former the Bill C-9, to which the hon. member for Windsor West contributed so much. As we know, Bill C-9 deals with the entire question of AIDS, which is rampant in Africa and causing a crisis all across it.

What is so unfortunate about Bill C-29? It modifies former Bill C-9 and the government is, in a way, eliminating the fact that representatives of the Senate can sit on the advisory committee that will, in fact, be making decisions about which pharmaceuticals will be on the list of drugs available for export.

Because of that, we are somewhat hesitant to give our support to Bill C-29. It is unfortunate because the primary goal of the bill as it now appears, was not to make these changes to the former Bill C-9.

At the same time, it is very important to emphasize that we consider former Bill C-9 extremely useful in resolving or beginning to resolve the crisis in Africa. Since the regulations will not come into force for several years—and even though Africa cannot wait—we must wait in order to be able to help Africans to the fullest.

For this reason we will support Bill C-29 only bring about the implementation of the regulations of former Bill C-9 as quickly as possible, so that we will finally be able to help the people of Africa, who need it so much.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

February 10th, 2005 / 3 p.m.
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Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, today and tomorrow we will continue third reading of Bill C-29, the Patent Act. This will be followed by second reading of Bill C-31 and Bill C-32, respecting international trade and foreign affairs.

We will then proceed to second reading of Bill C-28, which amends the Food and Drugs Act; report stage of Bill C-8, the public service bill; report stage of Bill C-3, the Coast Guard bill; and report stage of Bill S-17, respecting tax treaties.

On Monday we will begin with report stage and third reading of Bill C-24, the equalization bill. If this is completed, we will then return to the previous list where we left off.

Tuesday and Thursday of next week shall be allotted days.

Next Wednesday we will commence second reading of Bill C-38, the civil marriage bill.

With respect to the question on the Judges Act, that will be forthcoming in due course.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

February 10th, 2005 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-29.

I will start by coming back to the work that the member for Windsor West did on the initial legislation. The initial regulations were badly flawed, I think it is fair to say, in the original bill that was proposed. The member for Windsor West, who is a member of the NDP caucus, submitted over 100 amendments and was instrumental in improving the bill. We can take some comfort in that many of the worst aspects in the original legislation have been improved.

The government was forced to present substantial amendments to the bill. The amendments eliminated the first right of refusal clause and extended eligibility to other developing countries. Amendments by the member for Windsor West also forced the establishment of an advisory committee; placed humanitarian reasons before economic considerations in an appeal of the royalty rate; added a key fixed dose combination drug for the treatment of tuberculosis; and added East Timor to the list of eligible countries. These were all passed.

Effectively he presented a series of amendments that helped to improve the basic legislation. Some amendments were not accepted, such as the amendments on alpacas and others. The basic issue is that a bill that was presented to the House was improved through the actions of a member who was able to bring in improvements at the committee level and also push the government to improve it.

That is the role we play in this Parliament. As a minority Parliament members have perhaps more input than they would normally have. Very clearly in this case a single member was able to force improvements to the legislation. What has happened here is perhaps one of the better sides of how a minority Parliament can work effectively. Members have now been working together since the beginning of October when this session of Parliament opened. Members from all sides have been able to contribute to the debate.

In this particular case, we are talking about an amendment that deals in the longer term with the crisis in Africa and helps to provide the HIV-AIDS drugs to people who sorely need them. We know the crisis that exists. Many of us have seen the devastation of HIV-AIDS in villages in Africa.

Stephen Lewis, a former NDP leader In Ontario, has spoken on this subject extremely eloquently. He has spoken about the devastation in communities. He has spoken of the orphans in villages. Their parents have passed away and there are millions of orphans as a result of this pandemic. It is crucial that we start to flow drugs to those individuals, the villages, communities and countries that have been affected by the pandemic.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

February 10th, 2005 / 1:45 p.m.
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NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Burnaby—New Westminster. I too want to comment on Bill C-29.

I want to indicate that we all recognize here in the House and in Canada the serious nature of HIV and AIDS, and the consequences they are having around the world. To highlight, we just saw the tremendous tsunami that literally has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and the huge devastation.

The reality with HIV-AIDS is that it is like a tsunami happening every 10 days. Deaths and illness due to HIV-AIDS is equivalent to a tsunami happening every 10 days. It is absolutely crucial that as a Parliament, as a nation and as a world, we respond as viciously and vibrantly to that disaster that is happening to humankind as we do to the tsunami.

My colleague from Huron—Bruce indicated that we have a process where bills have to go through the other place and that is the proper process. However, the reality with the technicality in relation to the Senate and this bill is not that we would avert that normal process of bills going from the Commons to the Senate. In this so-called technicality what is put into the bill is the fact that there has to be a Senate representative on the advisory council. That is absolutely not necessary. It certainly is not something that we would see as a technicality that had to be fixed in order for this bill to do its job.

There is no question that on the issue of the fees we have to respond, and we have to respond quickly. We do not want to delay these products being made available. However, I wanted to correct the impression that somehow we were suggesting that we would not go through a certain process. However, we all recognize there is an unelected other side over there that not all people of Canada support.

Patent ActGovernment Orders

February 10th, 2005 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-29, an act to amend the Patent Act. This is a housekeeping bill, in our view, which addresses two separate patent related issues.

The first issue it addresses deals with the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa Act, which does help to facilitate the flow of drugs to help with HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in least developed nations.

The act called for the creation of a committee of experts to advise the government on what pharmaceutical products should be eligible for export under the licensing regime set up by the act. The first part of Bill C-29 amends the act to allow the Senate, not just the House of Commons, to assess and recommend potential candidates for the committee of experts. We support this specific aspect of the bill, although we would ask for guidance from the Senate as to which committee or committees should actually deal with this issue.

The second part of the bill deals with patent fees and entity size. Fees are required at all stages of the patent's life, application, review and maintenance. Canada and the United States have separate fee structures depending on whether a business applying for a patent is a small entity or a large entity. A separation based on size is quite common.

Until recently, a company that filed for a patent under the small business fee structure and then became a large business, or vice versa, was granted flexibility in its patent fees. The company could pay a top-up or could reduce its fees due if the enterprise size changed. The top-up scheme has caused considerable administrative trouble for patent agents and it is my understanding that they would like this matter remedied as quickly as possible.

A court case has clarified that there should never have been such a top-up scheme. The courts ruled that the entity's status is determined when a patent regime is first engaged. Thus, if the company files as a small business at day one, it is considered a small business for the life of the 20 year patent. This set of amendments is required to prevent possible lawsuits for an estimated 7,000 patent holders and patent applicants on the grounds that their fees have not fully been paid and thus their patents could be declared invalid. This was the Dutch Industries case, in fact.

We support these amendments as well in the sense that they will certainly reduce a lot of the legislation or the litigiousness that could result from this. We think that the size of the company when it gets a patent should determine its size for the life of the patent.

In conclusion, we also support the amendments to the interpretation of schedules because we would like Canada to have a clear intellectual property framework.