Canadian Tobacco Companies Challenge Federal Tobacco Act

In January 2002 (the mandate has not yet closed), the trial began in the constitutional challenge by the three major Canadian tobacco companies’ challenge of the federal Tobacco Act and two regulations adopted under it. The case is proceeding before Mr. Justice Andre Denis of the Quebec Superior Court, and is scheduled to last at least until June 2002.

The three plaintiffs are arguing that the Tobacco Act effectively repeats the advertising ban that the 1995 judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada declared unconstitutional when striking down the provisions of the Tobacco Products Control Act. They also argue that the Tobacco Act’s provisions can in any event not be justified under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as they are unlikely to have any effect on the actual consumption of tobacco products. The regulations imposing dramatic pictorial warnings on 50 per cent of every package are also contested as an unwarranted intrusion into the package, the only remaining vehicle of branded expression for tobacco manufacturers, as are the regulations requiring constant and repeated reporting of product and market research activities, which are contested as being ultra vires the statute.

Imperial Tobacco Canada Limited, the largest of the three companies, is represented by Ogilvy Renault’s Simon Potter, Marc Prévost, Johanne Gauthier, Gregory Bordan and Sophie Perreault. JTI-Macdonald Corporation, the successor to RJR Macdonald is represented by Irving Mitchell’s Douglas Mitchell and Catherine McKenzie, as well as by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s Georges Thibaudeau, Rothmans Benson & Hedges is represented by McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s Gérald Tremblay, Marc-André Blanchard, Chantal Masse and Yan Paquette.

The Attorney General of Canada is represented by Claude Joyal and Guy Gilbert, Maurice Reginer, Jean Leclerc, Marc Ribeiro, Marie Marmet and Sophie Truesdell-Menard of Gilbert, Simard and Tremblay. The Canadian Cancer Society, the intervenant in the case, is represented by Marc-André Fabien, Julie Derosiers and Christian Trepanier of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, as well as by Rob Cunningham of the CCS.