Quebec company looks at setting up cigarette plant in southern Alberta

EDMONTON — A company registered on a Mohawk reserve in Quebec says it is looking at setting up a cigarette manufacturing plant in southern Alberta.

Representatives of Four Winds Tobacco Products Inc. appeared before Newell County council last month about a possible location in Brooks, about 190 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

Tom O’Connell, a company consultant, said Four Winds wants to produce cigarettes for export and for three wholesalers in Ontario.

There is no immediate plan to sell in Alberta, but Four Winds may eventually try to market cigarettes on First Nations reserves in Western Canada, he said.

“If it is sold on First Nation reserves, we will only sell to registered wholesalers with the Canadian government,” O’Connell said. 

“And those cigarettes cannot be sold outside of the reserves. They are strictly for sale on the reserves.”

Four Winds is listed as a registered corporation with Industry Canada. It has an office and directors in Kahnawake, Que., a Mohawk community just south of Montreal.

The company is looking at Alberta because Quebec has put a moratorium on new tobacco manufacturing, he said.

O’Connell said Four Winds will apply for the required federal and provincial permits if it hears no objections from neighbouring businesses and gets written approval from the county.

Brian de Jong, deputy reeve of the County of Newell, said a cigarette manufacturing facility would not contravene the municipality’s land-use bylaw.

“As long as they follow the rules with the legalities of that, then there should be no issue,” he said.

O’Connell said the tobacco, cigarette papers and machinery for the plant would be imported from the United States initially, but the company would eventually seek Canadian suppliers.

Most Canadian tobacco is grown in Ontario.

The company would also encourage Alberta farmers to grow tobacco, O’Connell said.

“If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow tobacco.”

Earlier this year, the president of a tobacco company from Kahnawake was 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 Alberta’s Tobacco Tax Act for possessing tobacco not marked for tax sale and for having more than 1,000 cigarettes.

O’Connell said Four Winds is not affiliated with Rainbow Tobacco in any way.

He said its proposed plant would be open to federal, provincial and municipal inspections and would conform to all tax-stamping and other laws associated with cigarette manufacturing. 

“This is not kicking the tires. Our No. 1 priority is that location in Brooks.”

 

John Cotter, The Canadian Press

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