Letter to RCMP Complaints Commissioner
February 7, 2001
Mrs. Shirley Heafey
Dear Ms. Heafey:
Please accept this letter as a complaint to the RCMP Public Complaints Commission regarding the conduct by the RCMP of its investigations into the smuggling of cigarettes into Canada in the early 1990s.
Our complaint stems from the failure of the RCMP to meet its responsibilities to adequately investigate the contribution of tobacco companies and their senior managers to the widespread exporting and illegal importing of smuggled cigarettes.
The consequences of unchecked smuggling of tobacco products are well known to Canadians. Indeed, we believe that tobacco smuggling in the early 1990s may well constitute the biggest single case of criminal behaviour in the history of Canadian business and of public health. Governments were defrauded of billions of dollars in tax revenue; public health was robbed of one of its most effective tobacco control policy measures. In fact, a strong case can be made that thousands of Canadians will die from a tobacco-caused disease as a result of the move to half-price cigarettes in much of the country that was triggered by smuggling activity.
Canadians are also well aware that few smugglers have been brought to justice, and that no senior officials of tobacco companies have been held to account for any responsibility in providing one quarter of Canada's cigarette sales through criminal routes.
Canadians have not, however, been informed as to why little enforcement action has been taken by the RCMP. This is especially perplexing in light of the civil suit recently filed by the federal government against RJ Reynolds and the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturer's Council. Tobacco industry documents recently made public support the view that the highest levels of Canadian tobacco management took actions to support cigarette smuggling.
The companies now operate under public accusations of complicity in smuggling at the same time that they are implicitly exonerated by the RCMP's failure to lay charges. This is damaging to the credibility of the RCMP, of the public justice system and of the governance of corporations in Canada
Specifically, we would like the Commission to inquire into the following:
Given the decade which has passed since smuggling was identified by the RCMP as a pressing issue, and the importance of restoring the public health policies undermined by smuggling, we request that this investigation be conducted as quickly as possible.
Neil E. Collishaw