Former Prime Minister among 59 VIPs calling for changes to Access to
Medicines Regime

House of Commons votes tomorrow on bill, Senate possibly later this month

TORONTO, Dec. 1 /CNW/ - Today, on World AIDS Day, 59 notable Canadians from the worlds of politics, development, law, medicine and the arts, are publicly calling on parliamentarians to reform Canada's Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR). Among those signing the letter are former Prime Minister Paul Martin, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario James Bartleman, former UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis, past International President of Médecins Sans Frontières Dr. James Orbinski, arts leader Karen Kain, environmental activist David Suzuki, author Sally Armstrong, former Members of Parliament, and numerous leading researchers, national leaders from various faith communities, labour leaders and members of the Order of Canada.

Their call amplifies the opinion of 80 percent of Canadians who support the key changes proposed in current legislation, according to a recent poll done by opinion research firm Pollara for the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Crossroads International and UNICEF Canada.

The House of Commons will vote tomorrow on Bill C-393, a private member's bill on reforming CAMR. A Senate Committee is currently considering S-232, a bill that is practically identical. A bill called the Jean Chrétien Pledge to Africa Act was originally passed by Parliament more than five years ago with all-party support to create CAMR, with the goal of facilitating exports of affordable, generic medicines to people in developing countries. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and many other non-governmental organizations have called for reforms, underling the initiative's failure to be effective since only a single shipment of medicine has been sent to a single country in over five years.

"Now is the time to act," said Richard Elliott, Executive Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. "People in the developing world, including hundreds of thousands of children with HIV and other illnesses, have waited long enough for Canada to fulfill its promise. They are literally dying for drugs."

The letter signed by the 59 VIPs and complete poll results, along with further background, can be viewed at

Disponible en français


For further information: For further information: Gilles Marchildon, Director of Communications, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Telephone: (416) 595-1666 ext. 228, Cell: (647) 248-2400, E-mail:

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