A hidden agenda to help Big Tobacco?
New documents reveal Agriculture Canada intended
to sustain tobacco farming, in line with
multinational tobacco interests
On at least eleven occasions in 2008 and
2009, the Government proclaimed to the public
and to Parliament that the purpose of the $286
million Tobacco Transition Program (TTP) was to
help farmers exit the tobacco growing industry.
No other purpose was stated in any of these
Documents recently obtained by Mr. Ken Rubin
under the Access to Information Act (ATI) reveal
that there were two additional purposes of the
TTP. These were both stated in the February 13,
2009 Funding Agreement between AAFC and the
Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing
Board (OFCTGMB), and were:
Significantly, none of the statements of
purpose revealed that TTP recipients would be
expressly permitted by AAFC to
continue to earn money (p. 980) in the
tobacco growing business. Taxpayers were
never clearly informed by the Government that
over $50 million of their money would end up in
2011 subsidizing about 200 TTP recipients who
continue to be involved in tobacco growing.
In 2010, according to documents recently
obtained under ATI, AAFC commissioned an
audit of the operation of the TTP (pages
924-984). It focused narrowly on the
behaviour of the OFCTGMB and tobacco farmers.
“The AAFC audit does not address the issue of
the incomplete information provided to the
public by Ministers and the AAFC,” said Neil
Collishaw, Research Director of Physicians for a
Smoke-Free Canada. “AAFC deliberately
constructed a program that, in part, subsidized
with public money some TTP beneficiaries who
continue to be involved in tobacco growing, to
the tune of over $50 million, an issue not
addressed by auditing farmers,” he added.
Canada is a Party to the Framework Convention
on Tobacco Control, an international treaty with
172 Parties. The treaty does require Parties to
promote “economically viable alternatives” for
tobacco growers. “It is unfortunate that
the government has chosen to provide de facto
public subsidies for continued tobacco growing.
It is contrary to the spirit of the Framework
Convention on Tobacco Control,” concluded Mr.
For further information: Neil Collishaw,
Research Director, PSC, 1 613 233 4878