In a House of Commons committee on Monday, a proud legacy of McGill students was crippled. Since 2003, McGill students have been the leading edge of Canadian civil society clamoring for Parliament to allow Canadian generic drug companies to produce low-cost medicines for people in poor countries. This solution would cost taxpayers no money, and had the go-ahead from the World Trade Organization. All that stood in the way was political will, and McGill students led the way by leading marches down McGill College, testifying before the House committee in Ottawa, and visiting Big Pharma offices to demonstrate. The bill was passed, but it was too restrictive; it only helped send one shipment of drugs to Rwanda.
In 2010, the opportunity to fix the bill (called Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime, or CAMR) was before us, but in committee this week, joined by the Conservatives, the MP for the riding that contains McGill and the entire ghetto (Liberal Marc Garneau), introduced amendments that scuttled reform. Even the other Liberals on the committee were shocked and would not comment. There is still a possibility that the bill can be saved in the House.
McGill students must again lead the way to ensure Bill C-393 is strengthened and passed. Express your frustration with Marc Garneau, the Conservatives, and members of the Bloc who stand in the way of helping people access medicine that will save their lives. We are again uniquely placed to make a huge difference, and we must continue to do so.
Justin Noble, BA ‘05
Former director, McGill Global Aids Coalition