Recent highlights from the Council of Canadians

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The fight for a People’s Vaccine at the WTO

In mid-June, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) met to finish negotiations on relaxing intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines and other tools. This could have been a pivotal moment for vaccine justice – an opportunity for global leaders to help end the pandemic by making vaccines available as global public goods.

Unfortunately, a few wealthy countries – including Canada – succeeded in pushing through a compromised deal that will do little to improve access to life-saving vaccines, tests, and treatments. The Council of Canadians joined almost 300 civil society organizations from around the globe in urging governments to break the Big Pharma-WTO stranglehold on access to medicine.

Over the last two years, monopolies on life-saving vaccines held by a handful of pharmaceutical companies, and the shameful vaccine nationalism and hoarding of wealthy countries, have caused immeasurable suffering and millions of avoidable deaths. While taking an outwardly neutral stance, Canadian trade officials – backed by an enormous push from the powerful pharmaceutical lobby – have been quietly blocking a proposal at the WTO to break that monopoly.

In early June, we commissioned a blistering poll showing that this approach is out-of-step with a strong majority of Canadians — 2 out of 3 people said they want our government to support a patents waiver on COVID-19 tools like vaccines.

Read the full results of that public poll here

On the eve of the WTO meeting, we also released an open letter, signed by prominent Canadian and international advocates like Stephen Lewis, Joseph Stiglitz, Naomi Klein, Dr. Joanne Liu, and other important voices— urging Justin Trudeau to listen to Canadians and the rest of the world, not Big Pharma.

Read the full open letter here

Our efforts to get Canada to support a People's Vaccine did not go unnoticed. Our open letter got the attention of The Toronto Star, which also followed up with a coverage of the aftermath of the WTO meeting. The flagship evening news program on the CBC, The National, featured an interview with one of the signatories of our open letter. And our Trade and Privatization Campaigner, Nik Barry-Shaw, was featured in a TV interview for the CTV show Your Morning, as well as a longer web piece on the issue.

Thanks also to all of you who supported this campaign by writing to and meeting with your MPs and adding your names to our open letter. With your help, we will continue to keep up the fight for putting human lives before the profits of pharmaceutical monopolies.

Just Transition campaign reaches a new milestone!

Despite the best efforts of Big Oil CEOs, we’ve reached a high-water mark in our movement for a just transition, thanks to your organizing efforts.

After months of campaigning, more than 40 MPs, from all four major political parties, have now committed to tabling our just transition petition. Of those MPs, 22 have already tabled the petition in the House.

Over the past eight months, there's been huge turnout and participation in our campaign to Flood Parliament for a just transition. For some, this was their first experience with activism. Experienced organizers have been trading tips and working in their communities. And all of this organizing has given us great momentum.

Over 150 people have been leading petition drives in 40 communities from coast-to-coast. Many more of you have written to the Prime Minister and your MP to demand just transition legislation.

Parliament has now wrapped up for the summer but, with your help, we've made huge waves while it was in session. We look forward to working together to turn these waves of support into a tsunami in the coming months and winning a truly just transition off fossil fuels.

Read Ottawa resident Sara Washburn’s account of
petitioning her local MP as part of our Flood Parliament campaign.
Privatization is a climate killer

Governments are trying to convince us that privatization and so-called public-private partnerships (P3s) are solutions to the climate crisis. The federal government has even set up institutions to pursue this dead-end, including the Canada Infrastructure Bank, the Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency, and the Canada Growth Fund. But don’t believe the hype. As the Council of Canadians has written previously, P3s delay climate action, cost more, deliver less, and lack accountability.

Privatization isn't a climate solution; it's climate injustice.

Our climate campaigner Dylan Penner outlines six reasons why in this piece

Reproductive justice under threat

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, the landmark case protecting a person's right to an abortion in the United States. This is a tragedy that impacts all of us, especially women and those who can become pregnant, and will disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, racialized, poor, disabled, young and 2SLGBTQIA+ people.

This shameful attack on reproductive rights follows an already existing trend around the world of systematically blocking and obstructing access to abortion services and reproductive healthcare. In taking this action, the U.S. Supreme Court simultaneously jeopardizes long standing democratic practices.

Reproductive rights are intrinsic to the human rights upon which our democracy is based. 

The Council of Canadians extends our solidarity and support to our friends, families, and allies in the U.S. and those in Canada and around the world still fighting for reproductive justice for all.

Further, we encourage support for reproductive justice organizations in Canada, including Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, and the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

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