By Nancy Kelly
Despite an effort by the Nova Scotia Crown Prosecutor’s office to seek another delay in Bob Gee’s constitutional challenge, the Kentville businessman’s trial got underway Dec. 4 at the Kentville courthouse.
Gee, charged with improper storage of tobacco products at his Mader’s Tobacco Store in Kentville in 2008, is challenging the province’s tobacco access regulations under the Canadian Charter of Right’s freedom of expression provisions. Since Gee was granted permission to make the challenge, the Crown has successfully argued for several postponements.
After her consideration of what she called a “convoluted argument” for adjournment based on the rules of receiving expert testimony, Justice Claudine MacDonald ruled against prosecutor Ed Gore.
“The case law is clear and I find there has been no breach. I am not prepared to set this matter over to another date,” MacDonald said.
Witness testimony began in the afternoon with Gore questioning provincial tobacco inspector Daniel Manette and Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Robert Strang.
A former president of Smoke Free Nova Scotia, Strang defended the province’s rules for tobacco display.
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“Tobacco is a very addictive product and significant government oversight, including point of sale displays, is needed to minimize the use of tobacco products.”
The trial continues Wednesday. The Crown plans to question a witness with expertise on the marketing of tobacco products.
Bob Gee finally has his day in court.
The Kentville tobacco retailer was charged with illegal storage and display of tobacco products at his business, Mader's Tobacco, three years ago. In late 2010, Gee was granted the right to argue province’s regulations on tobacco displays and storage violate his right to freedom of expression.
There have been a number of delays in the case and Crown prosecutor Edward Gores spent most of the morning Dec. 4 making another request for adjournment. He asked for a delay because Gee’s lawyer had not provided a report or outline of the evidence expected from an expert witness on marketing to the Crown.
Justice Claudine MacDonald dismissed the request and witness testimony is expected to proceed this afternoon in Kentville provincial court. Three days have been set aside for the hearing.