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Bankruptcy of the tobacco giants: a 12th reprieve in sight.

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar25,2024

The three Canadian companies obtained court protection from their creditors in March 2019.

Bankruptcy of the tobacco giants: a 12th reprieve in sight.

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JTI-Macdonald, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and Imperial Tobacco Canada request that the deadline be extended until September 30, 2024 ( Archive photo).

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The tobacco companies JTI-Macdonald, Rothmans, Benson & Hedges and Imperial Tobacco will ask an Ontario judge Monday morning for a 12th stay to continue their financial restructuring after five years of negotiations with their creditors.

The three companies have been in financial difficulties since the Quebec Court of Appeal forced them in March 2019 to compensate some $14 billion dollars 100,000 victims of smoking in this province.

The protection enjoyed by the three cigarette companies expires Friday, but their lawyers are seeking an additional six-month extension, this time until September 30, 2024.

This morning's hearing is likely to be interesting, since the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Ontario, Geoffrey Morawetz , is now in charge of the file

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L&#x27 ;Lawyer for the Quebec victims, Mark Meland, said, during the last hearing 6 months ago in Toronto, that these requests for a stay looked more like negotiation tactics.

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Negotiations between tobacco companies and their creditors take place on the 8th floor of the Superior Court of Ontario.

Mr. Meland says he regrets that the message from the previous judge in March 2023 about the urgency of ending the talks fell on deaf ears.

It's time to light a fire under their seats, he said, because Judge McEwen's optimism was, according to him, premature when he told them at the time that the talks were going well.

Judge Morawetz replied that he sympathized with the fate of the victims. I am aware that your clients are dying and that others will continue to die, he said.

Radio-Canada However, it is unknown whether any of the parties involved in this case intend to oppose the request of the three companies.

In an email, the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control does not say it is surprised, because the process itself is to their advantage and dedicated to keeping the industry in business.

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Flory Doucas is the co-director of the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control.

Its co-director, Flory Doucas, says on the other hand she is dismayed by the silence of Quebec and Ontario in this matter, because these two provinces have, according to her, the capacity to bring this process to fruition in a completely different way. direction if they acted together.

However, the provinces continue to place their trust in a process that favors the viability of an industry fatal, instead of compensating Quebec victims in a timely manner and accelerating the radical change in industrial behavior at the root of millions of avoidable deaths.

A quote from Flory Doucas, co-director of the Quebec Coalition for Control tobacco

Ms. Doucas repeats that the three companies continue with impunity to market new products, causing damage to the health and well-being of new smokers without counting the costs possible effects on the health system.

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Lawyer Rob Cunningham is a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society.

The Canadian Cancer Society adds that the numerous delays in this legal saga have meant that many victims of the Quebec class action have died without having received fair compensation.

His lawyer, Rob Cunningham, whose Company has obtained observer status in this litigation, speaks of a tragic situation.

These delays also mean that measures to reduce tobacco consumption have still not been implemented. not been implemented in a possible settlement with creditors.

A quote from Rob Cunningham, lawyer for the Canadian Cancer Society

Me Cunningham argues that the provinces should make these health measures the top priority in negotiations and to seize a unique historic opportunity to bring the industry to its knees.

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The Quebec Court of Appeal concluded that the three tobacco companies had failed in their duty to inform their customers about the dangers of tobacco. (File photo)

The lawyer wants at least 10% of corporate profits to be donated to an independent fund to reduce tobacco consumption. Any promotion of tobacco should also be banned, he says.

All secret internal company documents should also be made public. The companies would finally have to make substantial additional payments if the targets their creditors have set are not met.

All three companies filed for protection of the Federal Act on Arrangements with Creditors after losing an appeal against a class action by more than 100,000 Quebecers suffering from nicotine addiction or a tobacco disease.

The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that ordered the three companies to pay nearly $15 billion in damages to smokers in that province.

It concluded, just like the Superior Court of Quebec in 2015, that cigarette manufacturers had failed in their duty to inform their customers of about the dangers of tobacco.

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Tobacco companies' opponents deplore that they are still continuing selling their products for five years.

After their defeat, the three companies turned to an Ontario court for protection.

Judge Glenn Hainey of the Superior Court of Ontario, had therefore suspended the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Quebec and, at the same time, all legal proceedings initiated against tobacco companies in Canada, including that of the Ontario government .

The provinces and territories are trying to recover the sums of money they have invested for years in the care of tobacco patients. British Columbia was the first to get the ball rolling 20 years ago before other provinces followed suit.

The Canadian Society of cancer estimates these sums at more than $500 billion, including $330 billion for the province of Ontario alone.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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