Tobacco Act Upheld by Superior Court

Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc., and JTI Macdonald Corp. instituted three separate actions before the Quebec Superior Court to challenge the Tobacco Act. The tobacco companies asked the court to declare the Act and two regulations adopted thereunder unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They argued that the Act violated their freedom of expression. The Attorney General of Canada defended the legislation. The Canadian Cancer Society intervened in these proceedings to support the Attorney General's position in favour of the Act's validity.

On December 13, 2002, Justice André Denis, from the Quebec Superior Court, ruled in favour of the Attorney General and the Canadian Cancer Society, maintaining the Act's validity. The judge stated that the tobacco companies' right to advertise their products could not be given the same legitimacy as the federal government's duty to protect public health. The three plaintiffs appealed the judgment, arguing that it contained numerous errors of law and manifest and determining errors of facts. Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and JTI-Macdonald appealed from the decision of Justice Denis on January 10, 2003.

Imperial Tobacco was represented by Simon Potter, Gregory Brian Bordan, Marc Prévost, Sophie Perreault and Johanne Gauthier of Ogilvy Renault. Rothmans, Benson & Hedges was represented by Marc-André Blanchard, Chantal Masse, Gérald Tremblay and Yan Paquette of McCarthy Tétrault LLP. Douglas Mitchell and Catherine McKenzie of Irving Mitchell and Associates in Quebec, and Georges Thibaudeau of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP acted for JTI-Macdonald.

Claude Joyal, Marie Marmet, Marc Ribeiro and Bernard Mandeville of Côté, Marcoux and Joyal, and Maurice Régnier, Guy Gilbert, Jean Leclerc and Sophie Truesdell-Ménard of Gilbert Simard Tremblay acted for the Attorney General. Acting for the Canadian Cancer Society were Julie Desrosiers and Christian Trépanier of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Montreal, and in-house counsel Rob Cunningham.