BC Liberal leader batted for big tobacco against BC

By ThinkPol Staff

The newly-elected BC Liberal leader once acted for multinational tobacco companies against British Columbia, as the province sought to recover billions of dollars spent out of the public health-care budget to treat people with smoking-related diseases such as emphysema and lung cancer.

Andrew Wilkinson represented Philip Morris International Inc., as it and other big tobacco companies dragged the Attorney General of BC through the court system[1]https://www.canlii.org/en/#search/text=S010421, fighting the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act[2]https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/laws/stat/sbc-2000-c-30/latest/sbc-2000-c-30.html, court records show[3]https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xNmjVe3cC208eWOkSpzXbCt0AlrRzRj9/view?usp=sharing.

Ironically, Wilkinson worked as a medical doctor before becoming a lawyer and has also served as the Attorney General of BC.

In a controversial legal maneuver, Wilkinson and other big tobacco lawyers brought a motion alleging that if the companies were found liable, they would be entitled to compensation from the Government of Canada for “negligent misrepresentation, negligent design, and failure to warn, as well as at equity.”[4]https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ap8dz-s3kGzi-I_tAg9FQqz6NpN1FaKw/view?usp=sharing

“Officials, at all material times, owed a duties of care to consumers, arising from their conduct in the development and implementation of operations programmes and initiatives respecting smoking and health, and in particular respecting tobacco related disease or the risk of tobacco related diseases,” the tobacco industry lawyers argued. “Officials assumed duties to consumers to make reasonable care in the development and implementation of those smoking and health programmes and initiatives.”

The Supreme Court of Canada subsequently dismissed the big tobacco’s action[5] R. v. Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., [2011] 3 SCR 45, 2011 SCC 42 (CanLII), (http://canlii.ca/t/fmhcz).

“It is plain and obvious that the federal government does not qualify as a manufacturer of tobacco under that Act,” the Supreme Court judgment read. “When the Act is read in context and all of its provisions are taken into account, it is apparent that the British Columbia legislature did not intend Canada to be liable as a manufacturer.”

Wilkinson has a history of representing questionable clients.

Wilkinson once acted for corrupt Chinese tycoon Ni Ritao’s company Sun Wave Forest Products, which breached an agreement to resurrect an abandoned pulp mill costing the City of Prince Rupert millions of dollars.

An SCMP investigation into case revealed that the businessman lied to a Vancouver court about his convictions for graft and forgery, falsely claiming he had been fully exonerated[6]http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2055167/exclusive-corrupt-chinese-tycoon-ni-ritao-linked.

Wilkinson acted as a lawyer on the matter until March 27, 2012, when Bill Belsey, the then vice-president of the B.C. Liberal Party, took over the case[7]https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-bc-liberal-candidate-has-ties-to-shuttered-pulp-mill/article8798196/.

Wilkinson defeated former Surrey Mayor and federal Conservative MP Dianne Watts in the fifth round, taking 53% of the vote.

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.canlii.org/en/#search/text=S010421
2. https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/laws/stat/sbc-2000-c-30/latest/sbc-2000-c-30.html
3. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xNmjVe3cC208eWOkSpzXbCt0AlrRzRj9/view?usp=sharing
4. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ap8dz-s3kGzi-I_tAg9FQqz6NpN1FaKw/view?usp=sharing
5. R. v. Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., [2011] 3 SCR 45, 2011 SCC 42 (CanLII), (http://canlii.ca/t/fmhcz)
6. http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2055167/exclusive-corrupt-chinese-tycoon-ni-ritao-linked
7. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/new-bc-liberal-candidate-has-ties-to-shuttered-pulp-mill/article8798196/