The 2011 Federal Election

There are a lot of things going on in this country that should be issues in this election: Fisheries and Oceans Canada's support for fish farms, the tar sands, and pipelines, to name three. With an annual death toll of 45,000 Canadians, tobacco should be a major topic of discussion, too.

We had a situation just five months ago where Health Canada was scrapping a plan to increase the size of warning labels on cigarettes as a result of lobbying from the tobacco industry. Read about it here: Conservative Federal Government owned by tobacco industry.

As a result of the exposure of the tobacco industry's involvement in this, the Harper Government changed its mind and went ahead with a a policy that was under development for six years. This is a old problem, however. Not long ago, it was common for tobacco industry spokespeople to say that the tobacco industry is a "partner" with Federal and provincial goverments, as part of complaining about taxation of tobacco. This is silly nonsense; automobiles, for example, are taxed heavily, but you don't hear auto industry lobbyists using language like this.

The Harper Government certainly didn't invent the idea that the tobacco industry is a "stakeholder" on tobacco industry issues; when Paul Martin was Prime Minister, the tobacco industry was much more than a stakeholder. The "stakeholder" idea is one that should be discarded. If you're asked by anyone during the few days left until the election to vote for a certain candidate, this would be a good topic to bring up.

One of the pillars of the Conservative campaign is "tough on crime"; longer prison sentences, building more prisons, that sort of thing. The Harper Government has also talked about the crime of tobacco smuggling, but they quietly adopted a policy of of prison sentences only for repeat offenders. In other words, the Harper Government is "tough on crime" except when it involves tobacco. Again, a good question to ask Conservative candidates about.

Read more: The 2011 Federal Election

Auntie Tobacco on the 2011 Federal Election

An election message from Auntie Tobacco at www.combatobacco.org:

A vote for Christy Clark is a vote for Big Tobacco

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.

Read more: A vote for Christy Clark is a vote for Big Tobacco

Decision on human-rights complaint regarding smoking in nonprofit housing stalled

Article by Carlito Pablo in the Georgia Straight: Decision on human-rights complaint regarding smoking in nonprofit housing stalled

Rose Marie Borutski's site: Canadian PUSH for Smoke-free Housing

Conservative Federal Government owned by tobacco industry

Proposed package warning featuring Barb Tarbox

Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq told reporters last week that the Federal government is "not in bed with big tobacco."

Now, why would anyone think such a thing?

Probably because Ms. Aglukkaq's ministry spent $3.6 million over the past six years on an effort to put larger (75% of the package area instead of 50%) and more graphic warnings on cigarette packages. Then, in late Spetember, 2010, Health Canada abruptly announced at a closed-door meeting that it was suspending the project.

No explanation was given at the time. There wasn't really any need for one. Health Canada had 53 meetings with lobbyists for Imperial Tobacco Canada, JTI-Macdonald Corp. and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges. They also met with lobbyists for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce 27times on this issue.

The tobacco industry's lobbyists included:

  • Duncan Rayner, former director of operations for the Conservative Party of Canada
  • Ezra Levant, former Conservative insider and professional liar
  • Eric Duhaime, a former adviser to Stockwell Day
  • Mark Spiro, Conservative insider

Perrin Beatty, a health minister in the Mulroney government, is President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and a lobbyist for that organization.

Ms. Aglukkaq said that Health Canada would concentrate their resources on contraband cigarettes, a move that the tobacco industry and one of their long-term proxies, convenience store owners, have lobbied for.

Story from CBC News: Tobacco lobbying preceded label retreat

Completion of the Journey for a Tobacco-Free World

Airspace President Errol Povah successfully travelled on foot all the way from Victoria to New York City via Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. Read his story about the completion of the Journey here: I stepped into the Atlantic Ocean.

The faces behind tobacco's deadly addiction

Graphic warning labels are a hot issue in the U.S. right now. Here's a good article by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post on the subject: The faces behind tobacco's deadly addiction.

A report from Beyond Hope

Errol Povah on the Coquihalla HighwayBlogger and former President of Airspace Smoking and Health met up with Errol on the Coquihalla Highway, 15 km. east of Hope. Here’s his story: Errol Povah’s Journey for a Tobacco-Free World.

It says that Errol will be in Merritt on June 11, and Kamloops on June 13.

There are a couple of other updates on the JTFW site, tobaccofreeworld.ca.

Press release for the start of the Journey for a Tobacco Free World

The JOURNEY for a TOBACCO-FREE WORLD

On May 31, 2010 - the World Health Organization's 23rd annual World No Tobacco Day - 30-year anti-tobacco activist Errol E. Povah and his Support Crew will embark on the world's first JOURNEY for a TOBACCO-FREE WORLD, a 6,300 kilometre "run, walk or crawl, from Victoria to Montreal." Time, energy and resources permitting, the Journey will then head south to New York City; those two destination cities being chosen specifically because they are home to the head offices of Canadian and American tobacco companies, where large anti-tobacco protests will be held to coincide with the JTFW's arrival. At the rate of 42 km per day, 6 days a week, the Journey is expected to take about 6 months.

The purpose of the JTFW: To raise awareness about largely-forgotten, replaced-by-obesity-etc. tobacco, the tobacco industry and the anti-tobacco movement, as well as to raise funds to 'ramp up' the War on Tobacco. Note: A total of 30% of the funds raised will be divided equally among BC Children's Hospital Foundation, Variety the Children's Charity and Toronto's SickKids Hospital Foundation.

"Globally, society is losing the war on tobacco, big time. Forty-six years after the first U.S. Surgeon-General's Report on the hazards of smoking, one would expect the death toll to be dropping, fast...and nearing zero. But tobacco continues to be the leading - and most easily and cheaply preventable -- cause of disease, disability and premature death in Western society," Povah said.

Read more: Press release for the start of the Journey for a Tobacco Free World

Journey for a Tobacco-Free World VIDEO

A video about Errol Povah's Journey for a Tobacco-Free World:

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