June 17, 2018 11:30 am

Nancy Greene Raine on Olympic memories, staying active and fighting Tony the Tiger

WATCH ABOVE: Food for Thought with former Olympian and former senator Nancy Greene Raine


Former senator Nancy Greene Raine battled Tony the Tiger for two years — and won.

Well, not the cartoon cat himself, which would have been rather weird even by Parliament Hill’s standards. No, it was what Tony represented — the targeted marketing to children of high-sugar food and drink — that Greene Raine had a problem with.

“There’s hundreds of millions of dollars being spent targeting children,” she said. “It’s not right.”

Greene Raine became the sponsor and leading voice behind Bill S-288: The Child Health Protection Act, which is now in the report stage. It would forbid food-and-beverage marketing directed at children in Canada.

WATCH: Childhood obesity rates up 10-fold since the 1970s

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The now-retired senator and Olympic gold medallist recently sat down with The West Block‘s Eric Sorensen at Ottawa’s Sheraton hotel — a place that became her second home when she served in the Senate — to discuss the legislation. She’s careful to point out that she’s not trying to [literally] steal candy from babies.

“There’s room for candy, there’s room for sweets as treats,” Greene Raine said. “But not all the time, and not to the point where you become addicted to the sugar.”

READ MORE: Canadian kids bombarded with more than 25M junk food and drink ads online every year

Under the new rules, she added, parents could still buy the products and kids could still consume them. Parents would just have to deal with less “of that nag factor” from children bombarded by colourful, fun ads pushing everything from chocolate bars to soda.

Media in Quebec made fun of her, she recalled, for trying to take Tony the Tiger off cereal boxes.

“This was a 50-year-old man talking about how important Tony the Tiger was. It just tells me how powerful that was, that even today, he has an emotional connection to that cartoon character.”

As she heads into retirement, Greene Raine said she’s trying to remain as physically active as possible, and you can still often find her on the slopes.

WATCH: Food for Thought with Nathan Cullen

Canada won one gold and one silver medal at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France, and Green Raine earned them both in alpine skiing. Only one other medal was awarded to the Canadian team: a bronze in hockey.

“I was getting my gold medal in the arena that day, and it was in-between periods in the hockey game and the hockey team stayed out in the box and were banging their sticks on the ice,” she recalled. “So it was quite a thrill.”

— Watch the full interview with former senator Nancy Greene Raine above.

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