NORFOLK COUNTY — Tobacco county has gotten a dirty reputation in Latin America as the provider of contraband tobacco.
“Just last month I was interviewed by a journalist with La Reforma. They came up from Mexico City to my little constituency office,” Haldimand-Norfolk MPP and ag critic Toby Barrett told the Ontario Legislature on Nov. 27. “A film crew came up from Mexico. This spring, I was interviewed by a camera crew from Guatemala, and another crew came from Costa Rica doing a documentary on illegal tobacco.
“Why would they come up here? All the contraband tobacco that has arrived on their shores is grown in Ontario, manufactured in Ontario and shipped down in containers. Ontario’s tobacco industry — the illegal side of it — has become completely out of control.
“The province of Ontario is now being viewed, essentially, as an illegal drug pusher, and it’s coming right out of just west of Toronto, in this part of southern Ontario,” Barrett said.
Barrett is calling on members of the Legislative Assembly to establish a time-limited commission of inquiry to hold hearings, pull together data with respect to trafficking of tobacco, other drugs, illegal weapons and humans. The tobacco county MPP feels Ontario can no longer ignore illegal trafficking and the issue is rapidly worsening with the involvement of organized crime.
Barrett said that there are very sophisticated operations moving leaf, moving processed leaf, moving cartons and cases across the country and out of the country and leaving behind illegal weapons and other drugs.
Barrett reminded parliamentarians that he has been warning them of the proliferation of crime stemming from illegal tobacco for many years.