Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Nov. 1 that former RCMP Commissioner Norman Inkster has been appointed Chair of the Advisory Council on National Security. Inkster has been a member of this Council since it was established in 2005.
The remaining tobacco industry executives living in Canada will probably be sleeping better at night knowing that Inkster is looking out for them. The same is true for the members of the tobacco-industry-funded Canadian Convenience Stores Association. After all, how would Canadian convenience stores survive if they didn't have cigarettes to sell?
Those of us who are not tobacco industry executives or convenience store owners should start figuring out how to bring our own bomb-sniffing dogs to the airport with us. Inkster has a history of providing cover for the People in Charge that goes back to the Mulroney government, when he decided not to execute search warrants against Tory backbench MP Richard Grise during the 1988 election campaign.
When Mulroney gave way to Jean Chretien in 1993, Chretien's Minister of Finance (and future Prime Minister), Paul Martin, owed a favour to British American Tobacco. who helped Martin when he was on his way up. You see, stiff Federal taxes on cigarettes put in place by the Mulroney government, combined with restrictions on smoking in offices and public places such as shopping malls, were causing people to quit smoking in large numbers. This, of course, is bad for the Tobacco Industry. (It's also bad for convenience store owners, as we shall soon see.) Martin decided to solve this "problem" by not only reducing Federal cigarette taxes, but pressuring Ontario and Quebec to reduce their provincial cigarette taxes as well.
Now, if Martin had announced at a press conference that he was reducing cigarette taxes so that smokers would buy more cigarettes, his tenure as Finance Minister would have been very short. Instead, he got Inkster to testify before a parliamentary committee that cigarette smuggling was a huge problem, and this problem was caused by high taxes on cigarettes.
We found out a few years later that the actual cause of the cigarette smuggling problem was the tobacco industry; they knowingly shipped their product to warehouses across the border in the U.S., then had a couple of R.J. Reynolds salesmen and an executive of Brown and Williamson make arrangements to smuggle the cigarettes back into Canada.
Inkster didn't tell the parliamentary committee about this. Perhaps he didn't know about it, but, after all, he was the Commissioner of the RCMP. His police force showed very little interest in investigating tobacco industry involvement in cigarette smuggling, even as the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating R.J. Reynolds for the same activity.
Will Inkster go after terrorist activity in Canada with the same diligence that he displayed against the tobacco industry? All signs are, yes. On Nov. 2, Inkster was a paid speaker at an event organized by the tobacco-industry-funded Canadian Convenience Stores Association. What was Inkster paid to talk to them about? Why, the "crisis of contraband tobacco", and how terrorists are using contraband cigarettes as a moneymaking scheme.
Inkster is a tobacco whore, and it will be convenient for him to tell Prime Minister Harper that terrorists get their funding from smuggling cigarettes. After all, if he told them that bin Laden and Al Qaeda get their money from Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia's money comes from the oil industry and those of us who buy gasoline, well, that just wouldn't do. Inkster is a totally inappropriate person for this job, and Harper should get someone else.
As for terrorists, we don't really know just now many people continued to smoke after 1993 when Inkster facilitated making cigarettes more affordable. We do know, however, that about 600,000 Canadians have suffered early deaths from smoking over the past 14 years. Inkster's tobacco industry friends have killed far more Canadians than all of the terrorists on this planet.