MONTREAL, May 7 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) accused the Harper government of bearing sole responsibility for the protest movement that was launched today by convenience store operators in the Saguenay, after years of negligence in the fight against tobacco smuggling, open tolerance of criminal behaviour in native territories and nit-picking, small-minded actions towards the most honest and hard-working merchants one could hope to meet, many of whom now find themselves on the brink of bankruptcy.
"For years now, the federal government has been closing its eyes to illegal tobacco sales in native territories. Moreover, it is adding insult to injury by withdrawing the sale of cigarillos from convenience stores and handing it on a silver platter to tobacco shacks and smugglers. There comes a point where a policy of double standards just doesn't make sense," declared Michel Gadbois, Senior Vice-President of the CCSA.
A group of convenience store operators in the Saguenay launched a protest movement today against government inaction on the issue of contraband tobacco, which has gone on for seven years now and is causing enormous losses for convenience stores due to fierce, unscrupulous competition. Faced with governments that refuse to enforce the law in native territories, forty-odd convenience store operators have decided to remove the "tobacco screen" from their displays, as a way of showing how fed up they are.
The CCSA has a particular grudge against the health minister, Leona Aglukkaq, who last fall introduced Bill C-32 prohibiting the sale of flavoured cigarillos in convenience stores, effective July 5. "Given that the Harper government does not enforce the law in native territories, it all boils down to giving a monopoly on these products to criminals who will be all too pleased to sell them even more cheaply to youth, without paying taxes," Mr. Gadbois pointed out.
The CCSA promises to wage a fierce campaign against the federal and provincial governments to ensure that the law is applied equally to all Canadians, be they native or non-native peoples, failing which, tensions and cynicism will surely proliferate across the country.
SOURCE Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA)
For further information: For further information: Guy Leroux, Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), (866) 511-2481, firstname.lastname@example.org