The poster-woman for the anti-bullying campaign -- former Deputy Premier, former CKNW talk show host, and now Premier wannabe Christy Clark -- isn't quite as anti-bullying as she would have everyone believe.

The ads for the local anti-bullying campaign's biggest event, Pink Shirt Day (Wed, Feb. 23), state "Bullying takes many forms." A few examples are schoolyard bullying, workplace bullying, and cyber- bullying. There are countless invalid excuses for it – age, gender, race, religion, colour, creed, politics, sexual orientation, etc.

The ugliest and deadliest form of bullying by far is the corporate kind. And the ugliest of the ugly is the tobacco industry. Big Tobacco is directly responsible for more disease, disability, premature death, preventable fires, and litter than anything else. It is also a significant cause of major environmental degradation. Twelve to thirteen percent of trees cut down worldwide are used for tobacco production. Many of these are clear-cut for farming and used to make packaging, but mostly they're just burned to cure tobacco.

Clark's ex-husband, Mark Marissen, was right-hand man to former Prime Minister and tobacco executive Paul Martin.

Clark's brother, Bruce "The Mexican" Clark, headed a group called the Lower Mainland Hospitality Industry Group. The LMHIG was created in 1995 by the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers' Council to oppose worker safety and human rights measures proposed by the (then) Workers’ Compensation Board and municipal councils to protect workers and the public from secondhand smoke -- a known cause of disease, disability, and premature death -- in public and workplaces. Bruce then teamed up with Elia Sterling to travel the world on the tobacco industry's dime, lobbying the false claim that ventilation made smoking restrictions in public places unnecessary. Sterling and his dad, former SFU professor Theodor D. Sterling, have taken over US$6 million in funding from American tobacco companies to generate studies "proving" that mainstream and secondhand smoke is harmless.

But this is just the company Clark keeps. She has free will of her own to do the right thing. But she chooses to support corporate bullying.

Now, unlike Barbara McDougall*, Clark may not be on Big Tobacco’s payroll.

But during her tenure with CKNW, Clark regularly had two key opponents of smoke-free public places, Vance Campbell and Dave Crown, as guests on her talk show. She clearly and consistently took their side on the tobacco issue. Her rants attempted to frame the act of poisoning people for the convenience and profit of a few as an issue of "personal freedom," "liberties," and "smokers' rights." She overlooked just one minor detail. For the same reasons that there is no such thing as drunk drivers' rights, there is no such thing as smokers’ rights.

While most media people strive for balance and objectivity, guests opposed to corporate bullying were conspicuous by their absence from Clark’s show. In fact, Clark rejected several requests from Airspace President Errol Povah to appear on her program to provide the other side of the story.

In light of Clark’s history, her campaign promise to provide free nicotine replacement therapies for smokers trying to quit looks suspiciously like a bone thrown to try to make us forget her cheerleading for a psychopathic, bullying industry. The only question left is whether she is really that stupid or just believes that the public is.

Clark's campaign slogan is "putting families first." We can't help but wonder what she has to say to the families of the 15 or 16 British Columbians who die daily as a direct result of tobacco use.

So, if you're a big fan of the world's Number One Corporate Bully, vote for Christy Clark.

We trust that most people, regardless of their political affiliations, will not vote for Clark, adoring lapdog of the tobacco industry.

* Tory Cabinet Minister, former Imperial Tobacco Director, and long-time Chair of the International Development Research Centre, a Canadian crown corporation that works in close collaboration with researchers from the developing world to build healthier and more equitable and prosperous societies. Oops -– can anyone say “conflict of interest”?

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