Pubdate: Thu, 3 Dec 1998
Source: The Toronto Star (Canada)
Page: A6
Contact:  1998, The Toronto Star
Author: Tim Harper, Toronto Star Ottawa Bureau


Legislation Scrapped Because Proposed Tax Originated In Senate

OTTAWA - The federal government has successfully killed a bill aimed at
fighting youth smoking, following a parliamentary scrap that pitted Liberal
against Liberal.

House of Commons Speaker Gilbert Parent ruled yesterday the bill imposed a
tax and therefore could not originate in the Senate, where it had begun as
the brainchild of Liberal Senator Colin Kenny.

Kenny's bill would have imposed a levy of 50 cents per carton of cigarettes
to raise $120 million annually for the Canadian Anti-Smoking Youth
Foundation, an agency created to combat smoking among teens.

Young people have generally ignored every initiative to curb smoking in
recent years.

Parent had been asked to kill the bill by Liberal House Leader Don Boudria,
even though he and Health Minister Allan Rock both said they supported the
principle embodied in the proposed legislation.

It was sponsored in the House of Commons by a backbench Liberal, Dr.
Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's). She vowed the fight would continue.

``This fight will not go away. We've got to find ways to get these messages
out to kids so they won't start smoking,'' she said.

Boudria said the law of Parliament couldn't be changed, no matter how
laudable the initiative.

``You must respect the law, notwithstanding the virtue of the meeting you
were attending. You can't break the law to get there,'' he said.

Opposition health critic Reform MP Grant Hill (Macleod) said Rock could
reintroduce the bill and it could be law by February.

Kenny said Rock cannot ignore the message behind his bill.

``My message to Allan Rock is simply this: We still have 40,000 Canadians
dying from smoking each year and 85 per cent of all smokers begin by age
19,'' Kenny said.

``I think he should do something and I believe he will.''

Ken Kyle of the Canadian Cancer Society said the health community would
continue to pressure Rock.

``We're extremely disappointed the government moved to kill this bill
without announcing a replacement,'' he said. ``This is one of the best
ideas in a long time to fight youth smoking. We think it has legs.''

Rock, through a spokesperson, said he could not support Bill S-13 because a
cigarette tax could be crafted only between Finance Minister Paul Martin
and his provincial counterparts and a dedicated tax runs counter to
government policy.

Rock also said more debate would be needed before money could be placed in
the hands of an organization, such as the one that would have been created
in the Kenny bill, that is not accountable to Parliament.

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