Truth Tracker: Shifting NDP math on Trudeau and Big Pharma
TORONTO - NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is accusing the Liberals of cozying up to big pharmaceutical companies by taking hundreds of meetings with their lobbyists, but he and his party seem unsure of exactly how many meetings there have been.
On the first day of the election campaign, Singh said Trudeau had met with pharmaceutical lobbyists more than 875 times during his time as prime minister, but a week later, Singh said it was 600 times.
Singh brought up the issue again on Sept. 20, when he said it was 850 meetings, but a tweet from the federal NDP party on the same day suggested it was just 650.
According to data from the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada, Liberal MPs and government officials met with lobbyists from 27 different pharmaceutical companies a total of 866 times during Trudeau’s tenure.
It is unclear, however, what these meetings were about as there are several issues facing the drug industry, not just drug prices. It’s also normal for the prime minister and government officials to meet with corporate lobbyists.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period over the weekend, Singh said the 875 number he’s referred to in the past is when combining Big Pharma meetings with those involving lobbyists representing insurance companies, though data suggests the Trudeau government met with insurance lobbyists 313 times in the past four years.
Singh was asked himself if he would meet with pharmaceutical lobbyists.
“I would meet with them but I wouldn't listen to them,” he said. “If they're saying to not reduce the cost of medication -- if they’re saying don't bring in national pharmacare -- I wouldn't listen to them on that point."
During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals promised to lower prescription drug prices, but only made headway in the matter in August when Health Canada announced an overhaul to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, including the removal of the United States and Switzerland -- the two countries with the most expensive drugs -- from a list of countries Canada uses to gauge prices.
The government at the time said the changes are due to take effect on July 1, 2020 and would save Canadians $13 billion over the next 10 years, though the pharmaceutical industry filed a lawsuit against the government in attempt to stop the regulatory changes.
With files from CTVNews.ca's Nicole Bogart and The Canadian Press