November 5, 2013
(Check against delivery)
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
I am pleased to be here with the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, to announce that just a few moments ago, I re-introduced legislation to combat the trafficking and cross-border smuggling of contraband tobacco.
Tobacco trafficking is a serious crime that threatens our communities and our economy.
Contraband tobacco fuels the growth of organized crime, and it helps make illegal drugs and guns more available in our communities.
Our Government has pledged to protect Canadians and keep their families safe, and this is one way we are fulfilling that promise.
This legislation that was just re-introduced would create a new offence in the Criminal Code of trafficking in contraband tobacco, with mandatory prison terms for repeat offenders.
The new legislation would define trafficking as including selling, offering to sell, possessing for the purpose of selling, transporting, distributing or delivering contraband tobacco.
The maximum penalty for a first offence would be a prison term between six months and five years.
As for repeat offenders who traffic in high volumes of tobacco products – meaning at least 10,000 cigarettes or 10 kilograms of other tobacco products – they would face mandatory minimum penalties. These would be:
- 90 days imprisonment on a second conviction;
- 180 days imprisonment on third conviction; and
- two years less a day imprisonment on subsequent convictions.
Ladies and gentlemen, with the enactment of these changes, law enforcement agencies would have the tools they need to target people who traffic in contraband tobacco.
These changes are in keeping with the work the Government has already done to ensure that those who break the law are punished for their actions accordingly.
And they reflect the Government’s commitment – as stated in the most recent Speech from the Throne – to standing up for victims of crime, protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities and holding offenders accountable for their actions.
Thank you. And now Minister Ambrose will say a few words.