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