If you bury your head in the sand, as the saying goes, you’ll get your arse kicked. And that, essentially, is the warning now issued by a huge number of Canadians to a virtue-signalling government that has ignored them in a recent public consultation on the proposed plain packaging of tobacco.
As Mark Bonokoski reports in the Toronto Sun today, bodies representing small shopkeepers, convenience stores, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and even the anti-smuggling Customs Union have pointed out that contraband cigarette manufacture and distribution now account for an annual $100 million racket in Trudeau’s paradise.
They have tried to make the public aware that their livelihoods, tranquillity and collective tax revenues are threatened by 175 criminal gangs operating across the country, with 50 illegal factories pumping out as many as 10,000 cigarettes a minute.
They have shown how this crime sector has grown directly in proportion to the increasing regulation of tobacco purchase. (Today, legal cigarettes can only be bought in corner shops, petrol stations and grocery outlets that don’t have in-house pharmacies – at five times the price of some illegal varieties.)
They have patiently explained that Canada’s porous border with the US – which will never regulate to the same extent – simply exacerbates the problem. They have highlighted the statutes that protect the legal immunity of the ‘Indian reservations’, often straddling the border and source of so many hooky smokes.
Yet their evidence has been deemed inadmissible because of some smart lawyer’s interpretation of a voluntary code to which the consultation board had signed up, courtesy of that profligate and priority-free gravy-train known as the World Health Organisation. (Really, don’t believe the WHO hype.)
Leaving aside any questions of human rights and civil liberties – and of the responsibilities, influence and powers of national and supra-national health bodies – the fact is that this is an unenforceable law. And unenforceable laws breed public contempt for the governments that introduce them.
Trudeau and his coterie should worry less about cigarette packs and more about mounting scorn for experts and for interfering, ‘othering’ politicians. They haven’t experienced it yet; but if they don’t look round and see how the world is moving on, they’ll soon find themselves out of step.
Then it will be their turn to be ignored.