Quebec to join lawsuit against tobacco firms

Rheal Seguin

Quebec City From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

Several provinces are planning to work together against tobacco companies to recover health-care costs related to smoking, says Quebec’s Health and Social Services Minister Yves Bolduc.

Quebec confirmed yesterday it is joining British Columbia, New Brunswick and Ontario in filing a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against tobacco manufacturers.

"First each province will launch their lawsuits. As for the strategy that will follow, there will be discussions among the different [provincial] governments," he said in an interview yesterday.

Last week, Ontario announced it was launching a $50-billion lawsuit against three tobacco companies, Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., JTI-Macdonald Corp. and Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc., to recover the cost of treating smoke-related illnesses dating back as far as 1955. Quebec said yesterday it still wasn’t ready to file its claim, but that a lawsuit was definitely pending. "We are committed to filing a lawsuit as soon as possible," Mr. Bolduc said. "We believe we have a solid case."

The provinces began to consider legal action after a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2005 that upheld a 1998 British Columbia law allowing the province to seek compensation against tobacco companies.

"Each provincial case will have their own particularities. Banding together could eventually be an option, but it’s still too early," said Justice Ministry spokesman Philippe Archambault.

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