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House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was regard.

Topics

Economic Action PlanRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour this morning to table, in both official languages, the seventh report on Canada's economic action plan.

Economic Action PlanRoutine Proceedings

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being 11:03 a.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-393, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's RulingPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There are three motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-393. Motions Nos. 1 to 3 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 1 to 3 to the House.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-393 be amended by restoring Clause 2 as follows:

“2. Section 21.02 of the Act is replaced by the following:

21.02 The definitions in this section apply in sections 21.01 to 21.16.

“authorization” means an authorization granted under subsection 21.04(1).

“pharmaceutical product” means any drug, as defined in section 2 of the Food and Drugs Act, and includes monitoring products and products used in conjunction with a pharmaceutical product.”

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-393 be amended by restoring Clause 4 as follows:

“4. (1) Subsection 21.04(1) of the Act is replaced by the following:

21.04 (1) Subject to subsections (3) and (4), the Commissioner shall, on the application of any person and on the payment of the prescribed fee, authorize the person to

(a) manufacture the pharmaceutical product or products named in the application;

(b) make, construct and use any patented invention solely for the purpose of manufacturing the product or products; and

(c) sell the product or products for export to a country that is listed in the Schedule.

(1.1) In addition to what is authorized under subsection (1), an authorization under that subsection authorizes the person to

(a) manufacture any active ingredient used in the manufacture of a finished product; and

(b) make, construct and use any patented invention solely for the purpose of manufacturing any active pharmaceutical ingredient used in the manufacture of a finished product.

(1.2) If a country is removed from the Schedule an authorization continues to apply with respect to that country for 30 days as though that country had not been removed from the Schedule.

(2) Subsection 21.04(2) of the Act is amended by adding “and” at the end of paragraph (a) and by repealing paragraphs (b) to (f).

(3) Subsection 21.04(3) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(3) The Commissioner shall grant an authorization only if the applicant has complied with the prescribed requirements.”

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

moved:

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-393 be amended by adding after line 22 on page 3 the following new clause:

“18. (1) The provisions of this Act that amend the Patent Act shall cease to apply on the day that is the fourth anniversary of the day on which this Act comes into force unless, before that day, the application of those provisions is extended by a resolution—the text of which is established under subsection (2)—passed by both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the rules set out in subsection (3).

(2) The Governor in Council may, by order, establish the text of a resolution providing for the extension of the application of the provisions that amend the Patent Act referred to in subsection (1) and specifying the period of the extension, which may not exceed five years from the first day on which the resolution has been passed by both Houses of Parliament.

(3) A motion for the adoption of the resolution may be debated in both Houses of Parliament but may not be amended. At the conclusion of the debate, the Speaker of each House of Parliament shall immediately put every question necessary to determine whether or not the motion is concurred in.

(4) The application of the provisions that amend the Patent Act referred to in subsection (1) may be further extended in accordance with the procedure set out in this section.

(5) In the event that the provisions that amend the Patent Act referred to in subsection (1) cease to apply, applications that have been granted an authorization under section 21.04 of that Act shall be concluded if they were submitted before the day on which those provisions cease to apply.”

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, every day, over 16,000 lives are lost in the world to HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other treatable infectious diseases, according to the Global Fund.

In 2009, 33.3 million people around the world were living with HIV-AIDS, 1.8 million of them died from the infection and 260,000 of those people were children. Ninety-seven percent of people infected with HIV-AIDS live in low to middle wealth countries, and while almost 15 million infected in these countries were in need of antiviral drugs, only 5.2 million were treated.

I am pleased to speak to Bill C-393, which would fix key flaws in Canada's Access to Medicine Regime, CAMR. I have eagerly been awaiting this opportunity because Bill C-393 is a bill that I talk about a lot with my constituents in Halifax. I get letters and phone calls about CAMR. I have been to events around Nova Scotia, like the grandmothers' event, Good Words for Africa-A Scrabble Afternoon, which is a scrabble fundraiser to raise money for HIV-AIDS and to raise awareness of Bill C-393.

I get postcards from the grandmothers to grandmothers campaign. I have received letters from the HIV-AIDS Legal Network. I am a member of the all party HIV-AIDS and TB caucus, or the HAT caucus, where I have listened to Stephen Lewis and James Orbinski talk about Bill C-393. I have received Facebook messages and tweets. I have been stopped on the streets. I have talked to students, doctors, community activists, retired politicians, health policy experts and grandmother after grandmother about this legislation. They have all said the same thing, which is to support Bill C-393 in its original form.

One letter I received was from the international NGO, OXFAM. I would like to read this letter to my colleagues in the House because it effectively communicates everything we need to know about this bill. It reads:

Dear Member of Parliament,

You have an amazing opportunity right 2at would save lives around the world, without costing Canadian taxpayers a dime.

In many places in the world, countless people are dying every day of AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and a host of other diseases.

But these deaths are preventable. What these countries need is access to generic medications.

The good news is: The political will exists to ensure this access. In 2004, Parliament unanimously passed legislation creating Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR).

The bad news is: CAMR is broken.

As the legislation functions now, generic drug manufacturers are required to negotiate with patent holders on a country-by-country and drug-by-drug basis, before they are able to distribute affordable life saving medicines. Due to this complexity and difficulty of use, CAMR has been deemed unworkable in its present form.

In more than six years, CAMR has resulted in only one order of one AIDS drug to one country.

But wait! There is more good news: Bill C-393--in its original form--would solve this problem. It contains a one-licence-solution, which would eliminate the need for separate negotiations with patent-holders for each purchasing country and each order of medicines. It would provide a more workable process to get affordable medicines for people in developing countries. And it would do all of this while meeting every one of Canada’s international legal obligations, including WTO rules.

Please commit to voting to restore the “one-licence” solution to Bill C-393.

You will be directly responsible for saving lives.

Thank you.

As I said, this is a letter that many of my colleagues in the House would have received from OXFAM. It does not get any simpler than that. As members of Parliament, as representatives of our communities, we could be directly responsible for saving lives. Or, we could all be implicated in Canada's refusal to help and watch by the sidelines as more and more people die. It is up to each and every one of us in this House to make a decision about what side of this issue we are on.

CAMR is not working now but reforms can make it work. As we have heard, CAMR has only delivered one medicine to one country since Parliament created it more than six years ago. There is no expectation that CAMR will be used again, unless it gets fixed.

Médecins sans frontières, Doctors Without Borders, testified before committee that it tried for months to make use of CAMR to get medicines for patients but, ultimately, it abandoned this effort because of unnecessary hurdles in the law. Only one generic drug manufacturer has been willing to use CAMR and said that it would not try this process again. However, it has publicly committed to using the system again if it were simplified to make a version of an AIDS drug that is needed to treat children with HIV, a drug that is not currently available from any other source.

Streamlining CAMR does not jeopardize pharmaceutical research and development, including here in Canada. CAMR only authorizes exports of generic versions of patented medicines to certain eligible countries and these countries were already agreed upon by Canada and all WTO members in 2003 and are already reflected in the current CAMR as it was created by Parliament in 2004.

These countries represent a very small portion of the total global pharmaceutical sales and profits of brand name pharmaceutical companies. Further, the brand name drug companies are entitled to receive royalties on sales of generic medicines supplied to these countries under CAMR.

Bill C-393's proposed reforms offer value for money for Canadians. These changes cost taxpayers nothing. In fact, Bill C-393's one-licence solution would make Canadian foreign aid more effective because limited resources could be used to purchase more medicines and would also free up scarce resources to invest in making health systems stronger. Scaling up access to treatment also means greater opportunities for producing and distributing good quality, Canadian-made generic medicines, meaning more business and more jobs in addressing a pressing global health need.

We are here today debating amendments that I have introduced at report stage. We have had to introduce these amendments because Conservative and Liberal members of the industry committee worked together to strip some of the most critical aspects from the CAMR legislation, like the one-licence solution.

We have heard criticism about this bill and we are willing to compromise. We are willing to work with parties to reach across the House and work together to ensure this important legislation passes. We have brought forward only two amendments in an effort to make Parliament work and get this legislation passed.

However, at the core of Bill C-393 is and should continue to be the one-licence solution. This approach would eliminate CAMR's current requirement for separate negotiations with patent-holding pharmaceutical companies for individual licences for each country and each order of medicines.

It would also remove the requirement to determine and disclose in advance of even being able to apply for a licence to export a single recipient country and a fixed maximum quantity of medicines. These unnecessary requirements have been proven to be the major stumbling blocks to the use of CAMR. The one-licence solution was removed by committee by a slim majority when it deleted clause 4 of Bill C-393 in spite of the fact that it had clear support at second reading.

Canadians want Parliament to take action on the Canadian access to medicines regime. According to a national poll, 80% of Canadians support reforming Canada's Access to Medicines Regime to make it more workable so that we can help developing countries get access to affordable and life-saving medicines. Dozens of prominent Canadians have come on board to say that this is the way we should be moving, including the former prime minister whose government enacted CAMR.

In honour of World AIDS Day, a group of prominent Canadians wrote a letter to members of Parliament asking them to support Bill C-393. Some of the signatories to this letter included: the right hon. Paul Martin, the former prime minister of Canada; Janice Alton, national co-chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace; Richard Bedell, medical advisor for Dignitas; Nigel Fisher, president and CEO of UNICEF; Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam; Michael Geist, Canada Research chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa; Karen Kain, artistic director at the National Ballet of Canada; Alexa McDonough, former member of Parliament; Steve Morgan, researcher at the University of British Columbia; and David Suzuki, Companion of the Order of Canada. As members can see, there are pages and pages of signatories.

Canadians want this legislation to pass and they want all parliamentarians to work together to ensure it passes. I hope every member will stand and vote for these amendments and support Bill C-393.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my turn, after the member for Halifax, to speak to Bill C-393, which would amend Canada's access to medicines regime. Before I speak directly about Motions Nos. 1 and 2 moved by the member for Halifax and Motion No. 3, which I moved, I would like to talk about the study we did in parliamentary committee.

When the parliamentary committee was studying this bill, I informed the committee chair that it would be important to take a closer look at Canada's access to medicines regime because it had been used only one time. We wondered why this regime, which was meant to provide ongoing access to medicines, particularly antiretrovirals, for African countries and all disadvantaged countries, was used only once and what kinds of changes would have to be made to it. More generally, how could we change how the different partners involved in this regime acted so that it was used more? Some witnesses told us that the regime worked, yet many people had used it only once. My colleague spoke about groups that had written to her and that came to tell us in committee that they would like to see the regime used more.

I told the committee chair that we needed to hear as many witnesses as possible and that the study needed to be broadened to include the entire regime, not just the bill that had been introduced by the former member for Winnipeg North. The study began and we heard from many witnesses. Unfortunately, I did not get the feeling that my colleagues around the table wanted to go beyond the bill and study Canada's access to medicines regime in its entirety.

When it comes down to it, all members of the House should hope that a regime put in place by Parliament in 2004 is used and that countries in need of low-cost medications have greater access to them, especially when witnesses told the committee that, in the case of antiretroviral drugs, many of these disadvantaged countries need access to second- or even third-generation drugs, which are not currently available in generic form.

This is why it was important to go beyond the bill and study the regime. However, because other members clearly refused to do so, we had to stick to Bill C-393 and study its merits, hence the analysis of the various motions before us.

As the member for Halifax mentioned, the Bloc members who sit on the committee voted in favour of all of Bill C-393's clauses, including those that referred to the one-licence solution.

Basically, when examining a bill like Bill C-393, we need to look at what it is all about and what is at the core of the bill. When we looked at Bill C-393, it was clear that its key element was the one-licence solution, which is why the hon. member for Halifax had to reintroduce that element. Motions Nos. 1 and 2 reintroduce clauses that the Bloc Québécois has already voted to support.

Now I would like to move Motion No. 3, which I had placed on the order paper on December 15, 2010, and which is in fact a sunset clause. I will not take the time to reread the motion, since the Speaker already read it when introducing the motions under consideration.

Why do we feel that a sunset clause is necessary? Quite simply, to sum everything up and to connect, in a way, all of the testimony we heard in committee. Many witnesses said they wanted to improve access to medications, that is, facilitate the sale and production of drugs in order to make them more accessible, which is what Bill C-393 is all about. Keeping this bill intact would serve to address the concerns expressed by this group of witnesses, since the sunset clause would not affect the other clauses of the bill.

Witnesses also pointed out that by changing Canada's access to medicines regime, Bill C-393 might be in violation of WTO rules. No one in the House would want to introduce or enact legislation that would violate WTO rules. In fact, Canada is calling on its trade partners around the world to comply with these very rules; we therefore would not want the legislation we are passing to violate those rules.

What is more, some fear that the changes made to the regime will simply make it a vehicle for exporting drugs on a large scale, which is inconsistent with the very spirit of this humanitarian regime. They fear that the fundamental purpose of the regime—to provide help—will be lost, and they want the regime's core purpose, namely to aid countries in need of inexpensive drugs, to be preserved.

Officials told us that nothing would change and that even amending the regime through Bill C-393 would change nothing. There need to be concrete examples and facts proving that Bill C-393 can indeed work and that the regime it is amending is an effective regime that is not breaking any rules.

The purpose of the sunset clause is simply to reassure everyone and to ensure that when the four years are up, we have solid examples and can resume the debate calmly with much more on the table than just the example of Rwanda with the current regime. Then in the House and in committee, we can base our discussions on reality, on concrete evidence and on the advances that will have been made through the changes Bill C-393 is making to Canada's access to medicines regime.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome back everybody to the House after the Christmas break. I am very happy to back.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss Bill C-393, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, and to address the motions that some of my colleagues have put forward to amend the bill at report stage. However, before I discuss Bill C-393 and the motions, I will take a few minutes to highlight Canada's commitment to improving the health conditions of people living in the developing world. This will provide important context given that the laudable goal behind Bill C-393 is to improve the access to medicines in developing countries.

I am sure I can speak for all hon. members in expressing support for this excellent humanitarian goal. However, in my opinion, the most effective way to improve the poor health conditions of people living in the developing world is not by changing Canada's Access to Medicines Regime, as Bill C-393 and other motions today propose to do, but by helping to ensure that primary health care for the world's most vulnerable citizens, the mothers and their children, are being met.

As a result, I stand proudly behind the recent announcement by Prime Minister Harper—

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

I remind the member, and all hon. members, that they ought not to refer to their colleagues by their given names.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada will provide support to improve maternal and child health care to several developing countries as part of its five-year commitment to the Muskoka initiative. As part of this initiative, Canada will provide support to improve the nutrition and health of three million pregnant and nursing women and their children in Ethiopia.

In addition, the government will strengthen the national health system in Mozambique to develop health services for mothers and children, providing life-saving HIV treatment to 38,000 children, treating 94,000 pregnant women and preventing HIV infections, and immunizing 2.8 million children over the age of five against measles.

Canada's support will also help to strengthen maternal and neonatal health services in Bangladesh through the purchase of essential drugs and equipment; the recruiting and training of health care professionals, including 2,000 new skilled community birth attendants; the upgrading of existing treatment centres; and by helping to purchase enough oral polio vaccine for 250,000 children annually.

I will now turn to discussing my concerns with Bill C-393, followed by the motions before us today at report stage.

I would like to remind the House that this is not the first time I have stood up to speak to this bill. I spoke to it before it went to committee. I actually supported it going to committee so we could hear the discussions. I want to thank my colleague from the Bloc, who attended those meetings and provided valuable input.

In October 2010, as we all recall, Bill C-393 underwent an extensive review by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, a committee of which I am a member. I would like to congratulate the members of the committee for their commitment to hearing testimony from a wide array of witnesses. Among those who shared their views on the access to medicines initiative for the developing world were experts in the field of international trade and patent law, representatives of non-governmental organizations with experience working in Africa, and government officials with knowledge of the historical background and technical implications of Canada's access to medicines regime.

Through this extensive testimony, the committee was well informed of the international drug procurement framework and trade obligations within which Canada's access to medicines regime must operate.

The committee also heard that Canada's access to medicines regime is only one element of the government's plan to improve health outcomes in developing countries, and that Canada is active in supporting programs like the Muskoka initiative on maternal and child health, which will have a significant effect on improving health conditions in poor countries.

The committee also heard evidence that there is a large economic context to providing affordable health care, including drugs, to low income countries, and that poverty, not patents, is the major obstacle to health access in developing countries.

Finally, the committee heard that Canada's access to medicines regime is working in its current form. The two shipments of 15,600,000 tablets of HIV-AIDS drugs to Rwanda in 2008 and 2009, after the country made a request for the drugs, is proof that it does work. It may not work to the efficiency and effectiveness of many we have heard from, but in its present form it does work. If it is compared with the access to medicines regimes in other countries, Canada is the only country around the world that has actually been able to use the system to deliver drugs to a third world country, a country in need.

In my view, along with what my colleague from the Bloc has said, that tells me that the regimes as set up now are not working to people's satisfaction. However, that does not mean that the regime we have is not set up in a proper, legal, and effective form. Maybe we should be looking at a broader review of what we can do to make sure we provide HIV drugs to those countries in need.

At the conclusion of the committee's review, members voted to substantially amend Bill C-393. One of the changes the committee considered necessary was the removal of the clauses that would allow Canada's access to medicines regime to be used by generic companies to export any amount of any drug to almost any country, including some that are relatively well off. This is sometimes known as the one-licence solution.

It is my understanding that the committee considered the elimination of the one-licence solution and the other changes to Bill C-393 necessary to ensure that the bill respects Canada's international trade obligations and maintains the integrity of Canada's framework for encouraging innovation and to ensure access to medicines for Canadians.

My key concern with the motions before us today is that they seek to undo all of the good work of the committee and they undermine the conclusions our fellow members of Parliament reached after careful review of Bill C-393.

In addition, I have particular concerns with Motion No. 3. The motion is original, in that it proposes to implement changes to Canada's access to medicines regime on a trial basis; first, for an initial period of four years, and then for a further five years, if both Houses agree.

As I have said, during the committee's review of Bill C-393, several witnesses noted that Canada's access to medicines regime works to send drugs to developing countries in need. It is the only regime, as I have said, of its kind in the world to have had this kind of success. As a result, it is our view that Canada's access to medicines regime does not need the changes that Bill C-393 proposes on a temporary basis.

I am also concerned that allowing provisions of Bill C-393 to have a temporary effect would be harmful because it would do nothing to improve primary health in developing countries. In our government's opinion, the best way to improve primary health care is through programs such as the Muskoka initiative that actively work to improve poor health conditions in African countries.

For all of these reasons, I am of the view that none of the motions to amend Bill C-393 should be accepted today by members of Parliament and that at third reading this bill should be defeated. Canada's access to medicines regime works and does not requiring changing.

In reviewing Canada's initiatives on access to medicines, the needs of developing countries must be balanced with the needs of Canadians. In sending over 15 million tablets of HIV-AIDS drugs to Rwanda, the current access to medicines regime has demonstrated that it achieves this balance; and the regime would not be improved by Bill C-393 or the motions put forward today. Therefore, I ask my colleagues not to support the report stage motions to amend Bill C-393.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Elizabeth Rennie and her team of grandmothers. Grandmothers to Grandmothers has come to see me many times. I have been very clear to this organization that I think the bill needs changes and that it would not have any effect on our being able to provide the drugs the organization would seek for African countries. This was passed by all parties. I think all parties should look at what we can do to continue to provide support for those countries, but I do not think it is through changes to this regime.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be back in the House today and would like to welcome all members back to this first day of the 2011 session.

I am also very pleased to debate this topic again. I spoke to it last in November 2009. Since then there has been considerable work done on Bill C-393, a bill that proposes to amend Canada's access to medicines regime. However, I would like to touch again on the reason this matters.

I was born in South Africa and spent much of my childhood there. I went back in 2002, and visited Soweto and people there knowing full well that 50 per cent of the people in Soweto at that time were infected with the HIV-AIDS virus. That meant that of every child born to an infected mother, one out of two was infected with the AIDS virus, and of every baby born who was infected with the virus, one out of two, or half, would not live past their second birthday. This is also a humanitarian tragedy in Africa.

I visited with a cousin who was a manager in an important industry in South Africa. I asked how the economy was doing, and he said that one of the key challenges was that with the prevalence of AIDS in South Africa, people were being trained to be managers, technicians, professionals, and workers but then leaving and dying early because of the AIDS scourge. Therefore, it is also an economic tragedy in South Africa.

In Africa approximately five million people have access to AIDS treatments comparable to what we have in Canada, but 10 million people in Africa do not. That is why the bill for CAMR was put forward in 2004 by a Liberal government to provide access to such medicines and to enable Canadian companies to export low-cost, generic drug cocktails to help lessen those tragedies.

Although the hope was that there would be a flow of royalties to Canadian companies and a flow of life-giving medication to Africans who required it, that bill just did not work. The legislation was flawed with bureaucratic and institutional barriers that made it unworkable. Essentially, only one contract was signed and implemented under that law. Therefore, Bill C-393 was put forward as a solution to address those problems and make it easier accomplish the objectives of CAMR.

There are members in the House who believe that Bill C-393 is imperfect and does not do enough to address systemic problems in providing access to affordable AIDS medication in Africa. I understand that reasonable people can sometimes disagree on the means to a common end: supporting Canadian businesses and those people in Africa who need medication for AIDS.

To those MPs, I would say that the motion for the one-licence solution that is at the core of the bill must reinstate the latter for Bill C-393 to become meaningful, and that it will help. There have been many credible witnesses before the committee who said that Bill C-393 , while perhaps not being the full solution to AIDS in Africa, would improve access to affordable AIDS medication for people who are dying without it, as well as protecting the interests of the patent owners of those medications. Let us help the Africans and support Bill C-393 and its one-licence solution.

I would like to make a few comments beyond the direct implications of the bill.

Imagine if the 10 million people in Africa currently carrying the HIV-AIDS virus and suffering and dying from AIDS were receiving the drug cocktails that turn this dreadful killer of a disease into a chronic yet manageable one, as we are doing in Canada. Imagine the well-being that would result in Africa and the economic and human implications of doing so.

Another piece that is starting to become clearer is drug cocktails. These medications prevent the transmission of AIDS. This is a very important point and an important underpinning for passing Bill C-393 with the one licence solution intact.

Drug cocktails lower the viral load of an AIDS patient to undetectable levels, which means they do not allow the disease to be transmitted. These cocktails are proving to be an almost 100% prevention mechanism. Treatment equals prevention. With access to these medicines people will no longer suffer the way they do without treatment and transmission of the disease will be prevented. If people who have contracted HIV-AIDS are fully treated, millions of others will be prevented from contracting AIDS each year. It is even more urgent that Canada support making affordable drugs available in Africa.

Unfortunately, the Conservative government is ignoring this prevention aspect of HIV-AIDS treatment. It has provided absolutely no support for pilot projects in Canada. There is a provincially funded pilot project in my province of British Columbia which seeks out AIDS sufferers who are not aware they have contracted the virus, or are incapable of managing their own treatment, so that they can be treated and the transmission of AIDS in Canada can be reduced. Six thousand people a year contract AIDS in Canada unnecessarily. With proper treatment, AIDS would no longer be transferable.

I would urge Conservative MPs to recognize the importance of AIDS medications as being not only treatment but prevention too. I would urge my colleagues to support prevention funding and projects here in Canada and abroad, which is what we are talking about with Bill C-393.

One member referred to Dr. James Orbinski, head of Doctors Without Borders. He has led this organization through some of the worst and most wrenching conflicts in Africa: Somalia, Rwanda and Darfur. Dr. Orbinski received a Nobel Prize on behalf of Doctors Without Borders. He has a great deal of credibility both as a medical professional and as someone who has worked in Africa on this issue. Dr. Orbinski commented that the possible failure of Bill C-393 with its one licence solution reinstated would be as unconscionable as leaving a room full of AIDS patients to die simply because they are poor and African.

Members on all sides of the House have big hearts. We want to see improvements in AIDS treatment in Africa and affordable medicines as part of that. I would urge all members to think about the foundational reasons of the importance that this bill go forward and soon. Lives are at risk every day that we wait.

We cannot let our brothers and sisters in Africa down. We must fix CAMR so these treatments can be provided affordably and soon. Humanity depends on it. I urge all members of Parliament to support Bill C-393 with its one licence solution.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Halifax for her great work on the bill. I also want to thank the members who spoke in favour of the bill. The bill is very important. Since 2003 I have been trying to get the law amended or fixed properly. It was Bill C-56 originally.

I want to impress on members that we can make a difference. We can choose to make it happen. We have proposed under Bill C-393 WTO and TRIPS agreement compliance. By that I mean that it abides by all international laws. There can be no other excuse used during this debate. If members do not believe me, they can believe the Library of Parliament's independent research which shows that what we are proposing here today is legal internationally. If we want to make a difference, we can do it now.

Back in 2004 I spoke in this chamber about the law that we passed and my fear that it was built to fail. It has failed. There has been one application. Apotex got one drug into Africa, despite the obstacles of the bill.

We told the world something. We told the world that we would help, that Canada would stand front and centre, show respect and help people. We said that we would make sure that women, men and children would get drugs that we have on our shelves and in our plants, that they could not get because of the cost. We told that to the world. We promised the world that we would lead the way. However, the way that we did it is despicable. We made a law that does not work, which others replicated, which gave an excuse. Right now people are suffering. People are dying. That does not have to happen. Not only have we chosen to turn our backs on them, but we have given them a phony law and literally slapped them in the face. Canada, the country to which I belong, has done that.

That is a shame. I have seen that over the years as a member of Parliament. I have tried to fix it four times. I feel strongly about it. I thought about that on the way to Ottawa. I used to belong to the AIDS Committee of Windsor. Before that, I had friends in Toronto who were gay, who had AIDS, who suffered. I have seen friends die, and they had medication. It is horrible to witness the disintegration of a human being, and that is in the best of circumstances.

We have an opportunity to make a difference. We continue to hear that it is a great idea and the laurels of the bill are applauded but that it cannot work. It does work, and we need to try. We need to move the bill to the next stage. It has to go to the Senate. Let those excuses resurface there and let us find solutions. As New Democrats, that is what we have done along the way.

I have a brief time to speak today, and I have two amendments that I will propose.

We have agreed to compromise continually in this process, not only with the Conservatives, but with the Liberals and now with the Bloc. There has been an attempt, one way or another, to either gut the bill or pretend that we are doing something and then say that we are doing all these other things. That is not the point. The point is this is one tool that could end the suffering of millions of people. This is one tool in the kit that Canada could use to help people.

Even if members' worst fears occur, we could bring the bill back to this chamber and fix it again. We could bring it back right away. We do not want intellectual property stolen. It will not happen with this bill, but that is one of the excuses that has been given. We have actually included the components of criticism that members have put. Even though we did not think they were warranted, we have agreed to them. Even under the worst scenario, we could bring the bill back to the chamber and fix it right away. New Democrats are prepared to participate every single day to do that. We are here today to do that.

I want to thank some people. I want to thank Richard Elliot and the grandmothers across this country, people who care for people and understand the connection, the values and principles with which this country could lead the world.

We have told them that we have a phony law that does not give them the drugs they deserve, that they could get to actually have good health and take care of other types of problems, as opposed to a solution.

There is no other excuse. The bill is WTO and TRIPS compliant. I have heard that. Witness after witness came to the committee. The same excuses were brought forward against this bill. They were not verified. At the very least, we could try with this bill. The people who are opposed to this are worried that affordable medicines will get to people rather quickly, and even more important, will get to the types of diseases that we need to get to. If that becomes a problem because it is happening too often and too fast, then we could revisit that. The excuses we have heard make no sense whatsoever.

The drug industry has blatantly said that if we do this it is going to cost us research and development and the industry will not invest in Canada. Despite the generous corporate tax cuts, despite all the grants and subsidies the industry is getting for research development and all the other incentives that have been thrown in the mix, the industry would throw the country under the bus just because a bill could pass that would, ironically, give the industry money. The pharmaceutical companies would get money for the drugs. They would get a percentage.

Again, I want to thank every member for participating in this debate. I hope that everybody thinks about this as the bill, hopefully, goes forward.

I would like to amend Motions No. 1 and 2. Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the motion proposing to restore Clause 2 of Bill C-393 be amended by replacing the definition of “pharmaceutical product” with the following:

“pharmaceutical product” means any patented product listed in Schedule 1 in, if applicable, the dosage form, the strength and the route of administration specified in that Schedule in relation to the product and any other patented product, or product manufactured through a patented process, of the pharmaceutical sector needed to address public health problems, especially those resulting from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics, and includes active ingredients necessary for its manufacture and diagnostic kits needed for its use.

The second amendment is long, and it is also WTO and TRIPS compliant. Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the Motion proposing to restore Clause 4 of Bill C-393 be amended by replacing the text after “4.(1) Subsection 21.04(1) of the Act is replaced by the following:” with the following:

21.04 (1) Subject to subsection (3), the Commissioner shall, on the application of any person and on the payment of the prescribed fee, authorize the person to make, construct and use a patented invention solely for purposes directly related to the manufacture of the pharmaceutical product named in the application and to sell it for export to any country listed in Schedule 2.

(2) Paragraph 21.04(2)(c) of the Act is repealed.

(3) Paragraph 21.04(2)(e) and (f) of the Act are repealed.

(4) Subparagraph 21.04(3)(c)(i) and (ii) of the Act are replaced by the following:

(i) sought from the patentee or, if there is more than one, from each of the patentees, by certified or registered mail, a licence to manufacture and sell the pharmaceutical product for export to one or more of the countries listed in Schedule 2 on reasonable terms and conditions and that such efforts have not been successful; and

(ii) provided the patentee, or each of the patentees, as the case may be, by certified or registered mail, in the written request for a licence, with the information that is in all material respects identical to the information referred to in subsection (2).

(5) Paragraph 21.04(3)(d) of the Act is repealed.

(6) Section 21.04 is amended by the following after subsection (3):

(4) The solemn or statutory declaration referred to in paragraph 3(c) is not required in the case of an application to the Commissioner for an authorization to supply the product named in the application to an eligible importing country for purposes of addressing a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency in that country or for purposes of public non-commercial use, but in such cases, the Commissioner shall notify the patentee or patentees of the issuance of the compulsory licence as soon as reasonably practicable after it has been issued.

That is all about compromise by the New Democrats for those who are opposed to the bill.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It would appear that the amendments moved by the hon. member for Windsor West are in order.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I echo the comments of my colleagues here this morning in welcoming everybody back. It is good to be here and to be participating in such an important debate.

I too have had many opportunities in the past number of months to meet with representatives from Grandmothers to Grandmothers in my riding and to appreciate the commitment and compassion that they come to me with in sharing their concerns for providing this kind of aid to folks in Africa. I am thankful for the opportunity to provide my views on Bill C-393, An Act to amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act as well as on the motions to amend Bill C-393 that are being discussed today at report stage.

Given that Bill C-393 has been under discussion in Parliament since 2009, I will begin my comments with a short review of the bill's history as well as the goals of the Access to Medicines Regime, which the bill seeks to substantially revise.

Canada's Access to Medicines Regime was developed in 2005 with three key principles in mind. The first was to provide a mechanism for developing and least developed countries to access the drugs and medical devices they need to treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other public health epidemics. The second was to ensure that Canada's intellectual property regime for patents continues to respect international obligations. The third principle was to maintain the integrity of Canada's business environment and ensure that Canadians continue to have access to the latest pharmaceutical products and innovations.

In my view, years might have passed since the regime's development, but all three of these objectives are still relevant today and must be kept in mind when considering next steps on Bill C-393. I would urge my fellow members of Parliament to also keep in mind that Canada's Access to Medicines Regime is the only one of its kind worldwide to have successfully authorized an export of drugs to a country in need. Thanks to the regime, in 2008 and 2009 over 15 million tablets of an HIV/AIDS drug were successfully delivered to Rwanda. This demonstrates that Canada's Access to Medicines Regime works as it was intended to support public health objectives.

As we may recall, Bill C-393 recently underwent an extensive review by members of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. During this review, the committee heard from a wide array of witnesses, including technical experts in the government, representatives of several non-governmental organizations focused on HIV/AIDS initiatives, members of the pharmaceutical industry and concerned citizens. This extensive testimony thoroughly informed the committee about the health challenges facing people living in the developing world, which go beyond the issue of drug patent protection.

It is my understanding that after this extensive testimony was carefully reviewed by members of the House of Commons standing committee, the committee decided to eliminate many of the proposed changes in Bill C-393. In particular, it voted to remove clauses from the bill that would have expanded the definition of an eligible product for export under Canada's Access to Medicines Regime to any drug, and that would have allowed the regime to export any amount of any drug to almost any country for an unlimited period of time. This is sometimes referred to as “the one-licence solution”.

The trouble with this is that if the one-licence approach is applied to Canada's Access to Medicines Regime, it would allow drugs to be sent to high-income countries like Singapore, obviously counter to the original principles of the regime.

Motions in AmendmentPatent ActPrivate Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order. The time allowed for private members' business has expired. The order will be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence. The hon. member from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar will have five minutes when the House returns to this matter.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

Noon

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on a very important piece of legislation. That, of course, is Bill S-6, the serious time for the most serious crime act, sometimes referred to as the ”faint hope clause bill”. It will get rid of that particular section.

As all members of the House know full well, Bill S-6 proposes important amendments to the faint hope regime.

The bill was first introduced as Bill C-36 and was reintroduced in virtually identical form as Bill S-6 in June of 2010. After debate and study in the Senate, the bill was, appropriately enough, passed without amendment.

I am always happy to rise in the chamber to talk about justice legislation and to discuss the issues that affect Canadians and the people of my riding of Niagara Falls, but I am saddened by the fact that we are still debating this bill, a bill that could have been passed before Christmas if not for the agenda of the opposition parties.

Unfortunately, as my hon. colleague from Edmonton—St. Albert explained during the report stage debate, some Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights chose not to listen to the testimony of victims and victim advocates and decided to delay this important bill by introducing unnecessary amendments, including deleting the title.

I have said this before about the opposition: that at some point it should take time to understand the needs of victims of crime. Unfortunately, it uses opportunities--as it did on this bill to get rid of the faint hope clause--to delay this government's important legislation and our attempts to fight crime and stand up for victims and law-abiding Canadians. The unnecessary amendments introduced by the Liberal justice critic and cheered on by the NDP and the Bloc were clear examples of the political tactics used by the opposition to delay our justice legislation.

I want to be clear in reminding the House that we are not talking about controversial legislation today. The bill before us is a bill that will get rid of the faint hope provision that currently allows a murderer to apply to be eligible for early parole after serving only 15 years in custody. It is legislation that will correct a law that has left many ordinary Canadians perplexed by the existence of a process that seems to allow murderers to get around the sentences imposed on them in open court after fair and public trials.

More importantly, it is legislation that victims have been asking for. I have met with victim after victim, and they have told me that the current faint hope regime must be repealed because it re-victimizes them and forces them to relive the horror that was the death of their loved ones. It is inconceivable to me that such an important matter as the protection of the families and loved ones of murder victims should be delayed because certain members do not like the title of the bill.

The measures proposed in Bill S-6 aim to accomplish three simple goals.

The first is to restore truth in sentencing by ensuring that the sentence pronounced on a convicted murderer in open court is the sentence that is served. It should not be too unreasonable for anybody that the sentence pronounced on a convicted murderer in open court is the sentence that should be served. That is reasonable.

The second is to keep those convicted of the most serious crimes in prison for lengthier periods of time, commensurate with the gravity of the crimes.

The third--and, in my opinion, the most important--is to ensure that the families and loved ones of murder victims are not themselves victimized at the whim of a convicted murderer who may decide to bring an application to be eligible for early parole. All this does is force families and loved ones to re-experience the pain of their original loss. They are victimized again and again. I do not think the goals of this bill are controversial or unreasonable and I believe the vast majority of Canadians agree.

As I have said many times before, this government is committed to redressing the balance in Canada's criminal justice system by considering the interests of law-abiding citizens. We are committed to ensuring that families and loved ones of victims are not themselves re-victimized by the justice system, and this is exactly what Bill S-6 accomplishes. This is a fair, balanced and reasonable reform of a controversial area of the law, and it should have the complete support today of all members of the House.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

January 31st, 2011 / 12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Madam Speaker, I want to ask the Minister of Justice a couple of questions, because it seems to me that we have very faint hope of actually getting straight answers from the minister on simple questions like this: why was this bill delayed?

He talked about Bill C-36 in the previous Parliament. Where was it in December 2009? It was well on its way to going through committee, and his government, his Prime Minister, cut the legs out from under him by proroguing Parliament.

It started at the bottom of the pile as the current bill in April 2010. Four months take place; it is the government's fault. Prorogation occurs; it is the government's fault.

The bill makes its way through the Senate and makes its way to the House only in September 2010. Why the delay? Why is the Prime Minister cutting the feet out from underneath the minister?

Second, on this bill itself, I want him to tell me precisely how many of the 146 persons who were given parole earlier than they were eligible for under this section of the Criminal Code have reoffended in the history of this offence? Is it one? Is it 20? Is it 40? How many is it? He should know the answer.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is exactly what we are dealing with. They never quite get it over there.

First of all, they spent the first couple of years with their colleagues over in the Senate holding up our justice legislation. Now that, thankfully, there is a government majority in the Senate, they figure they had better do the dirty work themselves.

He has questions for me; well, victims in this country have some questions for them. Why would they hold this bill up before Christmas? All this bill would do is reduce victimization in this country. What was their complaint? I had to tell people that they did not like the title of the bill. I had to tell victims who do not want to be re-victimized over and over again that the Liberal Party does not like the title of the bill.

He wants to know how many people have reoffended. I am going to tell members something. They still do not understand what this bill is about. This is about reducing victimization. This is not necessarily about those people who got out after 15 years. These are the people who stayed in there, but the families of those murdered victims had to worry about this starting at the 13th or 14th year, and if they got by the 15th, then the 17th, 19th, or 21st years.

It is the victims we stand up for in this Parliament. That is what they do not get.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was not going to ask a question. However, after the hyperbole coming from the minister, I could not resist.

The reality is that the victimization of the family members of people who have been murdered in this country is primarily at the feet of the Conservative Party and the ultra-right wing of that party. The Conservatives have gone around the country and have told family members of murder victims that they are going to have to appear repeatedly in order to see that this person does not get out. Their position is that if they do not want this person to get out at the 15-year mark, they have to appear repeatedly.

In fact, that is not what happens. We have had four cases of people applying more than once. There have been four cases, out of thousands, of people applying more than once. The jury that hears the application the first time has the right to deny any further applications, and they do that on a fairly regular basis.

The reality is that the minister and Conservative Party members have run around the country and said, “Look, we are going to fearmonger you to death. That is what we are going to do.” We see victims constantly coming forward and saying that, when in fact the reality is just the opposite.

I cannot help but ask the minister why they keep doing that. He knows the facts. Why do they keep putting that fear into the family members of murder victims in this country, when the reality is not that at all?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really find that incredible. It is the exact opposite. Victims' groups have come to us, as they have to parliamentarians over the last 15 years, and they are the ones who say they are re-victimized again and again.

I give credit to those individuals who are prepared to stand by us when we introduce these pieces of legislation because they know we are responding to their concerns. I have had families who have been victimized by one of these murderers tell me that when that 15-year period rolls around, they are tortured over and over again. They are re-victimized.

The NDP would not get that. I understand that. Its members would not understand that at all, but they are the ones who tell us that the victims are worried about whether this individual is going to get out or not. Many times, if not most times, they do not get out, but that is not the point; they are victimized again and again. That is what it is all about.

Another bill we want to get passed would deal with consecutive parole ineligibility. I know what the NDP members will be saying. They will be saying that the poor fellow is not going to be eligible for parole for 50 years under our bill. I say, “Good enough for him. If you're committing more than one murder or something, that is what you should be looking at in this country.” However, the NDP will not be able to figure that one out either.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is specifically with respect to the victims in the process.

As a result of the government proroguing and the delays it has caused with respect to this bill, we have gone through it twice. The first time Conservative members on committee called for grandparents in one case and a parent in another case, family members of a person who had been murdered. They did not do it the second time because on the first occasion one of the two witnesses called by the Conservative Party was honest enough to say that after a recent experience with dealing with somebody who had been released on early parole under the faint hope clause was convinced there are times when the clause is useful. Interestingly, that person was not called when the hearings were going on a second time.

Could the minister tell me why that person was not called? Did the minister speak to that victim when he heard that evidence on the first occasion? Did he change his mind and realize that the faint hope clause is a useful tool on occasion?

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is sticking up for the faint hope clause. That is good coming from an NDP member. I am glad that party has come forward. For a couple of years those members were content to let some of their colleagues do the dirty work, get the bill out of the House of Commons and to committee where it would be amended or held up forever. Now at least those members have come out on the record.

I appreciate that the hon. member and his party think that the faint hope clause is a wonderful thing. I appreciate that he and his party are not going to support us on any measures that stand up for victims and law-abiding Canadians. That is their approach and their ideology and they are welcome to that.

I have talked to victims right across this country. They applaud the government's efforts to take their interests seriously, to make them paramount. That is what I said when I introduced this bill on getting rid of the faint hope clause. I am sure the hon. member would be pleased to sit down with some of the people I have spoken to, people who want to know if getting rid of the faint hope clause would stop people from committing first degree murder. It would be a challenge for someone to figure out why anybody would commit first degree murder and think that was a good idea.

I know for sure that getting rid of the faint hope clause will reduce victimization in this country. Not one more family will have to go through that torture and relive the pain inflicted on them after 15 years. But we are going further. We have legislation before Parliament right now that will have consecutive parole ineligibility. That possibility will keep the hon. member up at night I am sure. There should not be any discounts for people who commit more than one murder in this country. If someone commits two, three or four murders, that individual should have parole ineligibility consecutive to that.

Individuals have told me that their son or grandson was the second or third victim murdered by the same individual yet there are no consequences for that under Canadian law. We stand with them. We will do what we can to make sure that their child or grandchild counts for something in the Canadian judicial system. We owe that to those families.

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would not want the remarks of the minister to be stale in the chamber before I inform him and the House that in the history of judicial review under this clause involving over 1,500 eligible offenders, 181 reached the stage of court decisions, 146 were granted parole before their 25 year eligibility, and out of 146, two offended. I am afraid that the minister is not aware of that otherwise he would not go into the hyperbole that my friend speaks of.

The minister wants to put in the minds of Canadians an enormous problem that has to be dealt with urgently by legislation but he does not want to tell the public that when his government was elected in October 2008 it killed its own Bill C-36, which was similar to this bill almost in its entirety. The Conservatives killed their own bill in December 2009 of their own volition. That minister must have stood behind his Prime Minister and said that is fine even though a lot of people in his riding of Niagara Falls want the bill. I did not read about any dissent. I never read about any dissent on that side. It is not like there is a lot of independent dissenting thinking going on over there.

So the Conservatives killed their own bill in December 2009 and then after prorogation took 48 days to introduce this bill, essentially the same bill. It is not like those members are in a hurry with respect to the faint hope clause. It is not like the minister can go to his constituents in Niagara Falls and claim he is blameless, that he thought Mr. Harper should not have prorogued Parliament, that he thought this bill should--

Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member is an experienced parliamentarian. Please do not refer to colleagues by their given names.