Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Former Manitoba NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis has had a rough time since she vacated her Winnipeg North seat last spring.
She lost the mayor’s race to incumbent Sam Katz and it wasn’t even close.
Then her party lost her seat to Liberal Kevin Lamoureux.
But today there might be at least one reason for Wasylycia-Leis and her party not to entirely regret her departure. A bill she sponsored to make it easier to get generic versions of life-saving drugs to African countries was saved, despite her not being around to push it through.
The legislation intends to simplify the licensing-application process for drug companies seeking to produce patent-protected drugs for things such as HIV and malaria in order to send them to African countries where they are desperately needed.
Canada passed legislation more than six years ago now to allow generics to be sent to a specific list of poor countries. But very few shipments have actually been sent because the application process requires generic drug makers to apply for a licence to produce a patented formula every time they want to make it to ship to developing nations.
Bill C-393 would require a licence application only once per drug.
C-393 passed second reading in December 2009 with the support of the Bloc, most Liberals and a handful of Conservatives including Manitoban James Bezan.
It was discussed at the Industry Committee and amended in October.
But because Wasylycia-Leis is no longer around as the sponsor, the bill technically cannot proceed back into the House of Commons. Because she retired, all the private members’ bills she sponsored will die.
But the NDP today said they brokered a deal with the other three parties and got unanimous consent to put a new sponsor on C-393. Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar is now going to take over what Wasylycia-Leis started.
Dewar has an early number in the private members’ business queue so C-393 may come up for its next vote as early as March.
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About Mia Rabson
Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.
Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.
She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.
Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.
Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.
In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.
She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.
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