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.
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“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.”
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.
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.