For immediate release: April 4, 2023
Queen’s Park: Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Bobbi Ann Brady today asked some tough questions about contraband tobacco. Brady rose in the House and, in lieu of Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, directed her questions to Stephen Crawford, Parliamentary Assistant (P.A) to the Minister of Finance.
“Speaker, Quebec’s model of dealing with contraband is extraordinary and Ontario signaled that model would be adopted in the 2019 budget but the policy was pulled days before print,” said Brady. “Speaker, to the minister, who or what was the reason the policy was pulled in 2019 and why is it missing again in the 2023 budget?”
Brady reiterated to the House that illicit tobacco threatens the safety of communities as profits fuel organized crime involved in drugs, guns, and human trafficking. Further, legitimate businesses suffer, and the government loses out on $750 million in taxes annually.
She went on to explain that in 2014, the federal government amended the criminal code of Canada – Bill C10 – to create a new offence of trafficking in contraband tobacco and to provide for minimum penalties of imprisonment for repeat offenders. Brady then asked the minister to explain why as soon as this government came to power, it changed the wording from “contraband” to “unregulated,” which makes it difficult for police and prosecutors to apply the law under such an ambiguous definition.
“Can the minister explain why each budget under this government contains the word unregulated as opposed to contraband, illicit or illegal?” asked Brady.
The P.A. simply responded to a finance question with a justice answer while trying to assert that the government takes illicit tobacco seriously. He then attempted to tie the government’s recent bail reform initiatives to the issue.
“The two questions I asked remain unanswered,” Brady said following Question Period. “This government is knowingly turning a blind eye to this trade and has changed terminology to empower criminals.”
For more information, contact MPP Bobbi Ann Brady at [email protected] or 519-428-0446