The Conservative Party of Canada is telling us that crime is something we should be concerned about. They want to increase mandatory sentences (especially for drug-related offenses), limit pardons, and, presumably, build more prisons.

There was also a press release from the Fraser Institute, dutifully reproduced by the Toronto Sun, telling us that tobacco smuggling is a problem, and the way to solve this problem is to reduce taxes on cigarettes.

We've heard this before, and we've also heard that the Fraser Institute wants to abolish public health care, public schools, and provincial and federal parks. Most Canadians who are aware that the Fraser Institute exists regard them as cranks, but they still get very generous media coverage.

Now, here's a couple of news stories that the Canadian media is not telling us about:

  1. Philip Morris International (PMI) was convicted of tax evasion in Pakistan in November, 2011. They were “under invoicing” cigarettes exported into that country.

  2. Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has been shipping cigarettes to smugglers in Russia, the Middle East, and the Balkans. See Japan Tobacco Fights Back Against Former Employees, from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Now, why should cigarette smuggling in Pakistan, Russia, and elsewhere be of interest to Canadians? Because PMI and JTI are multinational corporations that do business in Canada, and they are the second and third largest purveyors of cigarettes in Canada. PMI sells Rothmans, Benson and Hedges, and Craven A. JTI sells Export A.

We have major enterprises in Canada that are involved in criminal activity. So what is our tough-on-crime Federal government doing about it? Have employees of PMI and JTI been questioned by the RCMP? Have search warrants been issued for their offices and warehouses? Have any efforts been made to track cigarettes from the point where they are imported to retail outlets?

While they are at it, law enforcement authorities could also ask questions about the origin of the tobacco used in the cigarettes, and whether any international labour standards (especially the ones on child labour) were violated when the tobacco was cultivated and harvested. They could also ask the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and similar provincial agencies such as the BC Investment Management Corp. to sell their shares in PMI and JTI.

Let's see the same level of concern from the Conservative Party of Canada for these corporate criminals as they have for the marijuana growers. What would an appropriate minimum sentence be for corporate involvement in cigarette smuggling?

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