Ken Hill died in January at the age of 62.
As is often the case when a successful corporate executive an wealthy person dies, the media sang his praises for supporting his Six Nations community, being involved in a number of charity initiatives, owning an ice hockey team and several local business. Niagara Falls, ON lit the falls blue and green one night in his honour.
Downplayed in all this was, the source of his fortune was the Grand River Enterprises cigarette company, the fourth largest tobacco company in Canada after Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans Benson and Hedges, and JTI-Macdonald. They also sold a lot of cigarettes in Germany.
Grand River Enterprises is known for the same lack of scruples as their larger competitors. They claimed to be exempt from Ontario provincial law, even though courts have ruled otherwise, and short-changed Ontario on provincial taxes. They thumbed their noses at the Federal government by running promotions for their brands. They were sued several times in the US for involvement in cigarette smuggling. In 2009, Hill was charged with 16 counts by the State of Washington for trafficking in contraband cigarettes but the following year, a jury found him not guilty on all counts.
No word in the various news articles about his death on whether he was a consumer of his own company's products.
Airspace President Errol Povah sent this letter to the Hamilton Spectator:
I'd never heard of Ken Hill until I read about his death in "Rare honour for Ken Hill as Niagara Falls illuminated in memory of Six Nations businessman" (Jan 20).
I read that Hill was "a larger-than-life businessman", "a multimillionaire cigarette magnate", "a strong Six Nation community supporter"... a very generous philanthropist who built/supported many charities, sports teams, etc.
Wait... what? A cigarette magnate? The rest of Hill's 'resume' was amazing... no, stellar! But he was a tobacco executive, running a quasi-legal cigarette company... and Niagara Falls pays tribute to him with a fancy light show! WTF???
All the good he did was paid for with blood money, plain and simple.
For those who might've forgotten how deadly tobacco is: As of today (Feb 2... almost 11 months into the "pandemic"), COVID has killed 20,213 Canadians. Over that exact same period of time (since Mar 11, 2020... the day the WHO declared COVID a pandemic), BIG TOBACCO/BIG NICOTINE has killed more than 44,000 Canadians!
Of course, Hill was responsible for a relatively small percentage of those deaths, but still...a Niagara Falls light show? Wow!
I hope Hill rots in Hell... the fate that all past, present and future tobacco executives -- except for those who become whistleblowers -- deserve.