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NDP lights into Saskatchewan Party over tobacco donation

November 24, 2006

The Saskatchewan Party tried to ignite a debate over tobacco on Thursday, but the NDP fired back with a smoking gun of its own.

The exchange began in the legislative assembly when the Opposition accused the NDP of hypocrisy for moving to ban smoking while accepting an advertisement from a group promoting the legalization of marijuana.

Saskatchewan Party MLA June Draude referred to a booklet distributed at the NDP's weekend convention with a pro-pot ad on the back.

"They accepted money from a company that's supporting a substance that's actually illegal and to me that's just hypocritical," she said to reporters later. "You can't have it both ways."

On one hand, the NDP is banning public smoking and considering suing tobacco companies, yet on the other is allowing the promotion of marijuana at its convention, she said.

Healthy Living Services Minister Graham Addley said the government doesn't support legalizing marijuana.

Furthermore, he said, it's people in the Saskatchewan Party who are the real hypocrites, because they accepted a $10,000 donation from Imperial Tobacco in 2003.

Asked by reporters about the tobacco company money, Draude explained things were different back then.

"I know that smoking tobacco a number of years ago was a lot more acceptable than it is now. We know that there's fewer people using it now and we definitely don't promote it," she said.

Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall acted fast to put out the fire. He said when he became aware of the Imperial donation on Thursday he introduced a policy against taking money from tobacco companies.

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