Mr. Speaker, my comments today flow from my question to the Minister of Health on October 3 pertaining to the influence of multinationals over this government's drug policies and drug pricing policies. Perhaps the fact that we are discussing this issue on the same day that the Minister of Health publicly caved in to the tobacco industry says it all.
There is a very disturbing pattern taking place with respect to Liberal style government and Liberal legislative priorities. The influence of multinational corporations over policy development and decision making is apparent in every area and pervasive throughout this government. On every turn the public's interests have been subsumed by commercial interests.
Whatever happened to the idea of government as an instrument of the people, as a truly democratic institution reflecting the collective interests of society, the institution protecting the common good? It is increasingly apparent that this government is beholden absolutely to the big corporations, the bankers, the stockbrokers and the bondholders in the global community today, that it is no longer able to distinguish between the public interest and the commercial interest. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to drug policy.
I do not think anyone can dispute the fact that this government is absolutely controlled by the big brand name drug companies. Let me refer to the evidence, the complete flip-flop by the Liberals on Bill C-91 legislation to extend patent protection to 20 years for multinational drug companies. When in opposition Liberals stood up and talked about government siding with multinationals on drug policy. What did they do when they became government? They simply carried on with Bill C-91.
That brings me to my second concern. What did they do when the standing committee reviewed this issue last year? What happened to the draft report of that committee? Why was it watered down so that all meaningful recommendations were eliminated?
Third, let us mention the elimination of the drug research lab, the one independent bureau we have in this country for research into drugs. This government eliminated it and put the responsibility into the hands of the drug companies.
Let me also point to the refusal of this government to ensure that the work of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board is open and transparent.
Finally, let me refer to the backing away by this government from a promise made as recently as the last election for a national drug plan. In that campaign the Liberals promised to look at a publicly funded, universally administered single payer drug plan, provided nationally. What did we get in the Speech from the Throne and what have we heard from the minister and this government since then? They are looking into the feasibility of studying the possibility of better access to medically necessary drugs.
My question today is why has this government changed its mind so quickly on such an important program to Canadians. Is it so much influenced by the big brand name companies and by the money that those companies provide the Liberal coffers that it cannot put in place good public policy?
Why has this government not taken seriously the concerns we raised in the House on October 3 about an obvious and apparent conflict of interest with employees from its own Patented Medicine Prices Review Board—