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Former Conservative cabinet minister Barbara McDougall attends the Munk Debates in Toronto on Dec. 1, 2008.

Arantxa Cedillo / Veras/arantxa cedillo The Globe and Mail

If for whatever reason, dear reader, you ever doubt that Canada needs to rid itself of this particular squad of Tories I offer the following from today's fish wrap:

"The huge charitable foundation run by software czar Bill Gates and his wife has yanked funding from an anti-smoking research project in Africa because of the tobacco industry links of a former Canadian cabinet minister.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's partner on the project is Canada's International Development Research Centre, a federally funded agency whose chairman is former Tory external affairs minister Barbara McDougall. When the Gates group found out that Ms. McDougall was until last month on the board of directors of Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., it promptly pulled the remaining funds from its initial $5.2-million (U.S.) grant…

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The Gates foundation was alerted by the African Tobacco Control Alliance, a Togo-based group that was organizing some of the research project and was set to co-host a conference with IDRC in Dakar, Senegal. Last Wednesday the African group announced it was pulling out of the meeting because of Ms. McDougall's perceived conflicts, and the Gates foundation followed up by cancelling its funding for the remainder of the project two days later.

Rachel Kitonyo, chair of the ACTA, said in an interview from Nairobi that her group could not continue the work because its constitution forbids it from having any direct or indirect links to the tobacco industry, and it does not want to work with partners that do."

This is the sort of queasy-making leaden irony that beggars satire. So, I wont even bother trying to be funny. Barbara McDougall is a partisan hack who has embarrassed Canada in the eyes of the world. She should resign today.

(File photo: Arantxa Cedillo for The Globe and Mail)

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