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The Empire Writes Back

Darth Vader

A couple of days ago James Middleton, Clear The Air’s Head of Anti-Tobacco and Legal Committee wrote a letter questioning the potential conflict of interest in having a Director of Imperial Tobacco Canada appointed as Chair of the International Development Research Center.

Well, that letter has been replied. The full response is after the jump.

Subject: Chair of the IDRC Board of Directors and Imperial Tobacco Canada

Dear Colleagues,

As the Program Leader for Research for International Tobacco Control (RITC), IDRC’s tobacco control program, I would like to acknowledge and respond to the concerns that have been expressed through a number of channels about the Chair of IDRC’s Board of Governors also being a Director of Imperial Tobacco Canada and Chair of ITC’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee.

Firstly I’d like to thank all concerned for raising the issue and recognize that the concern is motivated by a common cause that IDRC shares. That is, to overcoming the barriers to effective tobacco control. Barriers that we all recognize are to a large degree created by the tobacco industry.

An official response to the concerns raised will be provided by IDRC shortly, however in the interim I would like to respond to your concerns.

Mrs. McDougall is currently a Director of ITC. Her tenure comes to an end this month. The Chair, and the other part-time Governors on the Board of IDRC is appointed by the Government of Canada and Mrs. McDougall was appointed Chair in December 2007. The health programs of IDRC, including RITC, have not been on the agenda of the Board during her tenure and in fact I can state with complete confidence that RITC programming has not been affected in any way by Mrs. McDougall’s presence on the IDRC Board.

The IDRC Board is not responsible for the management or selection of projects at IDRC. The Board is responsible for the governance and overall strategic direction of the Centre and Governors are required to recuse themselves from Board discussions on matters with which they have a conflict of interest.

RITC has been a development program of IDRC since 1994. I am confident that IDRC’s ongoing support to tobacco control will not be adversely affected by the Chair’s involvement with ITC (which happens to be ending). I hope that our ongoing commitment to the RITC mission of generating the knowledge for effective tobacco control policies and programs in developing countries will inspire others to continue to work with us. This includes our upcoming meeting in Dakar, Senegal where we look forward to working with many of our African colleagues, development agencies and donors on the lessons learned and future plans for tobacco control in Africa.

Sincere regards,


Greg Hallen
Program Leader

Research for International Tobacco Control

International Development Research Centre

PO Box 8500

Tel: (613) 236-6163 ext. 2528
Fax: (613) 563-0815


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