Bill C-398: Generic AIDS drugs defeated

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According to supporters of Bill C 398--Canada was on the cusp of helping tens of thousands of people suffering from HIV-AIDS in the developing world with life-saving drugs. But the government says the bill would never have been able to accomplish that, and it defeated Bill C 398 this week. We ask its reasons for doing so.



Bill C-398: Generic AIDS drugs defeated - Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

We started this segment with the sound of Bill C-398 going down to defeat in parliament. The bill would have made it easier for Canadian generic drug companies to produce life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs, and ship them to developing countries in desperate need of them. The bill was defeated by a count of 141 to 148, with all but seven Conservative MPs voting against it.

Wednesday's vote was part of a long fight to fix the Canadian Access to Medicines Regime of 2004. The intent was to export essential medicines to countries that couldn't make them themselves. But in eight years it has only been used twice to send generic drugs to one country.

Last year, a similar bill made it through the House of Commons but died in the Senate when the election was called. At that time, the pharmaceutical industry opposed the bill. This time, R X and D - the Association representing Canadian pharmaceutical companies stated in a letter to members of parliament that it would not oppose the amendments.

That however did not convince most Conservative MPs to support the Bill. Mike Lake is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry. He's an MP for the riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods and he joined us from Edmonton.

The seven Conservative Members of Parliament who voted for Bill C-398 all declined our request for an interview.

Bill C-398: Generic AIDS drugs defeated - AIDS activist from Zambia

Mwaka Kaonga is an AIDS activist from Zambia who is raising her children here in Canada. Both her sisters died as a result of HIV/AIDS. She spoke at a rally in Winnipeg on November 1st in support of Bill C 398. We aired a clip.

Bill C-398: Generic AIDS drugs defeated - Stephen Lewis

Our next guest has worked long and hard in the fight against HIV/AIDS and is very disappointed with the defeat of Bill C-398.

Stephen Lewis is the former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and he was in Long Beach, California this morning.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch and Lara O'Brien.

Music Bridge

Artist: Thievery Corporation
CD: It Takes a Thief - Best of Thievery Corporation
Cut: # 1, Amerimacka
Spine: ESL 164

Letters: Mexican Salamander

Well let's deal with two issues looming large after yesterday's program. Firstly, the characterization of Bradley Manning - traitor or whistleblower. Bradley Manning is the US army private charged with leaking classified material to WikiLeaks. He took the stand at his hearing yesterday.

In response to our discussion on the show, Mary in Ottawa says:

Bradley Manning is a whistle-blower. It took a lot of guts to do what he did. He acted out of conscience and did the right thing.

Degan Davis tweets:

The singer Bobby Womack said it best, "The Bravest Man In The Universe."

But another tweet from Chris Brown says:

Mr Manning is a traitor of the same caliber as Mr Delisle. Both should count themselves lucky no treason charge has been laid.

That reference to Jeffrey Delisle, is about the naval officer turned spy. He pleaded guilty to spying last month, after selling military intelligence information to Russia for four years.

And to another story from yesterday's program:

A Mexican salamander called the Axolotl. Never mind that it may hold clues to regeneration of body parts or defeating cancer. Not to mention that its numbers are dramatically falling. The dilemma on Facebook after our discussion? Cute or creepy.

Here's how the axolotl was described yesterday.

Well if that sounds like straddling the fence, Lancelot Bennett agrees. He posts:

Neither cute nor creepy. Very salamander-like.

Or you can straddle the fence another way, as Shannon Kelley tweets:

That's a real critter!? Cute in a creepy way.

Marilyn G. Elkin describes it as a goldfish with wings!! ... That sounds like a vote for cute.

And from Eileen Kinley: Are you sure that's not a muppet? Yes, cute!

Thanks for weighing in! Our Facebook page is at facebook.com/cbcthecurrent. Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. And you can visit our website to see the picture yourself.


Other segment from today's show:

Stolen Face: How a mistaken photo changed Neda Soltani's life forever

Admitting journalistic bias on social media

Susan Rice's connection to XL Keystone Pipeline

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