Tobacco company president not guilty of importing smokes to Alberta reserve

The president of a tobacco company from Mohawk territory in Quebec has been found not guilty of importing millions of cigarettes without a licence for resale to a central Alberta reserve.

EDMONTON — The president of a tobacco company from Mohawk territory in Quebec has been found not guilty of importing millions of cigarettes without a licence for resale to a central Alberta reserve.

Robbie Dickson of Rainbow Tobacco G.P. was convicted in provincial court of two other charges under the Tobacco Tax Act for possessing tobacco not marked for tax sale and for having more than 1,000 cigarettes.

Whether he will be sentenced on those two charges will depend on the results of a constitutional challenge that Dickson has filed and which is to begin in February, Alberta Crown prosecutor Leah Boyd said.

Defence lawyer Josephine de Whytell said part of the constitutional challenge will focus on Dickson’s aboriginal rights.

“We are contending that the Mohawks travelled across Canada and traded their tobacco with First Nations across Canada. It was customary for those First Nations to have possession of tobacco on or around the different First Nations,” she said.

“Robbie Dickson possessing tobacco on the Montana First Nation is the continuation of his aboriginal right to go about his traditional avocations.”

Dickson was charged in 2011 after the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission and the RCMP seized almost 16 million cigarettes from a warehouse on the reserve south of Edmonton.

The Alberta government said at the time that it would lose $3 million in tax revenue if the “contraband” cigarettes were sold.

Court documents say the cigarettes in about 75,000 cartons were produced by Rainbow Tobacco on the Kahnawake reserve in Quebec and shipped to the Montana First Nation in Alberta.

The plan was to use the Alberta location as a hub to distribute and sell the federally licensed cigarettes to aboriginals on reserves across Western Canada.

Dickson and Carolyn Buffalo, who was chief of the Montana First Nation in 2011, said the plan would have created jobs in aboriginal communities with high unemployment.

Charges against Buffalo were stayed.

Dickson was not available for comment about the May 11 ruling by provincial court Judge William Andreassen.

In an interview after the charges were laid, Dickson said the province has no jurisdiction to govern economic development on First Nations territory.

A lawsuit filed in 2011 by Rainbow Tobacco and the Montana First Nation against the commission sought damages and the return of the seized cigarettes, but the claim was dismissed.

Rainbow Tobacco’s website says the company is a general partnership located on Kahnawake Mohawk territory just outside of Montreal.

The company says it has been federally licensed to manufacture and sell finished tobacco products on reserves across the country by the Canada Revenue Agency since 2004.

Rainbow Tobacco says in 2010 it entered into discussions with several First Nations communities in Western Canada to sell and distribute Rainbow products in their territories.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Red Deer Festival of Trees raises more than $1 million

Festival of Trees held last month at Westerner Park

No bending the rules for Red Deer’s cannabis locations

City council sticks to approved setback distances

Growing drug-fuelled emergencies at Red Deer’s Buffalo transitional housing complex

City council approves two additional mental health staffers at complex

Climate change, receding glaciers increase landslide risk on B.C.’s Mount Meager

VANCOUVER — Climate change is causing glaciers atop Mount Meager in British… Continue reading

China, US discuss plans for trade talks

BEIJING — China’s economy czar and U.S. trade envoys discussed plans for… Continue reading

Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Adriana Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male… Continue reading

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

TORONTO — Canada Soccer has named striker Jordyn Huitema and defender Derek… Continue reading

Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse

You might be forgiven for feeling superhero overload this holiday season. Had… Continue reading

‘Modern Family’s’ Sarah Hyland had second kidney transplant

LOS ANGELES — “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland says she had a… Continue reading

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Beyonce performs at pre-wedding party in India

Beyonce brought her star power to a pre-wedding party for the daughter… Continue reading

Kirk Douglas celebrates 102nd birthday

LOS ANGELES — Actor Kirk Douglas got to celebrate his 102nd birthday… Continue reading

Most Read