Ottawa off the hook in tobacco lawsuits

Supreme Court rules federal government is not a third party in class-action suits

Ottawa cannot be held liable for damages in lawsuits against tobacco companies, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday. Tobacco companies including Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. had been trying to get the Supreme Court to establish Ottawa as a third party, effectively making the Harper government a co-defendant in the cases. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of Canada has decided that the federal government is not acceptable for its decisions and actions, said Imperial Tobacco Canada vice-president of law Donald McCarty. “We nonetheless intend to set the record straight and believe it is important for the government of Canada to answer for its long and sustained involvement in the tobacco industry.” Imperial Tobacco is currently embroiled in a class-action suit waged by customers claiming the company’s light and mild brands of cigarettes did not have packaging that gave accurate information about tar and nicotine levels. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement she was pleased taxpayers would not be on the line for claims against the tobacco industry.

CBC News