Bonum Certa Men Certa

Gates Foundation Retreats After Being Exposed as Funder of Big Tobacco

Old men smoking



Summary: Longtime tobacco funder, the Gates Foundation, is having second thoughts about its funding after a major blunder breaks loose in Canada, which casts doubt on even more investments of the Gates Foundation

THE Gates Foundation has been very busy handling scandals and blunders recently. Here is last week's story which had fatalities.



As we have been pointing out for almost 2 years now, the Gates Foundation invests in tobacco [1, 2] (unless it has stopped, but it is difficult to tell because the foundation is far too secretive). The Gates Foundation invests in Big Oil too, but that's another story.

“The tobacco prevention venture turns out to be led by Big Tobacco too.”Gates' tobacco connections have baffled us for quite some time because he apparently invested both in Big Tobacco and something that's characterised as "tobacco prevention" (at the same time!). Well, maybe this riddle is a riddle no more. The tobacco prevention venture turns out to be led by Big Tobacco too. It is not unusual for these multi-billionaires to have controlled opposition, i.e. groups that pretend to be fighting against the very same people who control them. "Gates Foundation cuts funding linked to tobacco companies," says the news.

Gates' investments in tobacco make more sense now. Facing public backlash, the Gates Foundation immediately pulls out [1, 2, 3, 4]. Was the foundaton aware of where the money was going before the public found out?

"This is the kind of citizen action that demands accountability from the Gates Foundation," says GatesKeeper, a watcher of the Gates Foundation.

The Gates Foundation has finally come clean and terminated its tobacco control grant with the Canadian International Development Research Centre as its new (Liberal, shame) leader was on the board of Imperial Tobacco. Though it took action by ATSA for them to do so. No one looks good in this: the Gates Foundation and the IDRC and Barbara McDougall have egg on their faces. Philippe Boucher at Tobacco Control in Africa has been on this case from the beginning. Well done. This is the kind of citizen action that demands accountability from the Gates Foundation.


The protesters were right all along [1, 2, 3]. They knew something was amiss.

Here is more information about this scandal:

Gates charity miffed by alleged conflict-of-interest involving federal official (and here too)

Bill Gates's charitable foundation has snuffed out a $5.2-million grant to a Canadian initiative to curb smoking in Africa, citing troubling federal links to the tobacco industry.


Anti-tobacco group loses Gates grant; its chair was cigarette company director

The Gates Foundation took the unusual step of terminating a grant, this one for a Canadian group engaged in tobacco control, after the chair of its board was exposed as a director of Canada's largest cigarette maker.


Canada gets 'black eye'

When there was no response to the March 15 letters to authorities, the Gates Foundation acted while various participants in the IDRC program known as RITC (Research for International Tobacco Control) and observers such as Collishaw's group made public their concerns.


Gates foundation cuts support over tobacco

Memo to Barbara McDougall: Resign!

Grant lost over chairwoman’s tobacco links

Gates charity miffed by alleged conflict-of-interest involving federal official

Gates Foundation revokes Canadian tobacco control grant

Gates Foundation Cuts Funds to Canadian Project Over Tobacco Link

Gates Foundation cuts support to Canadian agency over tobacco connection

Gates charity cuts funding to Canadian anti-smoking project in Africa (also here)

Barbara J. McDougall, a former member of parliament who chairs the Canadian government's International Development Research Centre, also served until a few weeks ago as a director of Imperial Tobacco Canada, that country's largest tobacco firm.


We cautiously suspect that Gates knew what he was investing in all along. His investment in tobacco (as in pro-tobacco) is not news to us. Other investigators exposed this factoid years ago.

Let us bear in mind that this is a Canadian federal official and Bill Gates funds people inside Canada's government for reasons that are not entirely clear. Some say it's to do with vaccines, but Gates pays almost $2 billion to the Canadian government and that's an order of magnitude more than he spent on the vaccination initiative there. By the way, as we showed in several older posts, that project too is quite a bit of a political scandal in Canada and Gates' involvement is clear. Here are some articles from the past week:

Truth may be harsh on scuttled vaccine facility

To date, Ottawa has offered a decidedly incomplete explanation. The Public Health Agency of Canada, which oversaw the CHVI, said none of the consortiums qualified to host the vaccine facility. Then, PHAC released a report by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a funding partner in the project, that said there was more than enough manufacturing capacity and the CHVI facility was redundant.


No reason to cancel HIV vaccine facility, MPs told

Debate about scrapped HIV vaccination centre hits health committee

Study used to kill HIV centre was 'flawed'

MP seeks proof of political meddling

NDP health critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis hopes a parade of expert witnesses on HIV research at the health committee this week might convince the Tories to reignite plans to build an HIV vaccine manufacturing facility.

The committee begins two days of hearings this morning with HIV scientists and Public Health Agency of Canada officials scheduled to appear. Representatives from three of the four finalists who bid for the facility and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will appear Thursday.


Canada and Gates have an interesting relationship, but we'll leave the pharmaceutical debate to the next post. This is an ongoing exploration that proves ever more fascinating by the week. It involves many hours of reading, linking, and mapping. It all makes sense at the end, but it's hard to approach the problem without knowing who's who and how the players are connected.

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