Banning food ads aimed at children: Is Quebec’s regulatory model still cutting-edge?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 12:45to14:15
Chancellor Day Hall NCDH Room 312, 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

The McGill Research Group on Health and Law is pleased to invite you to its 2014 Interdisciplinary Panel, entitled Banning food ads aimed at children: Is Quebec’s regulatory model still cutting-edge?

A healthy, tasty lunch will be served, but space is limited to 50 participants. Kindly RSVP to rghl.law [at] mcgill.ca.

To members of the Barreau du Québec: approval for continuing education credits is pending.


Bill Jeffery, National Coordinator, Centre for Science in the Public Interest

Dr. Kristin Voigt, Institute for Health and Social Policy and Dept of Philosophy, McGill University

Dr. Monique Potvin Kent, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa


For more than 30 years, Quebec has had some of the strictest consumer protection legislation in the world, banning commercial advertising directed at children under the age of 13. The Supreme Court of Canada famously upheld the ban as a justifiable restriction on freedom of speech in the 1989 decision in Irwin Toy v. Quebec (Attorney General), chiefly because of children’s unique vulnerability to advertising.

A current private member’s bill would seek to expand Quebec’s approach to Ontario. Further jurisdictions also look to Quebec as a model. Yet, restrictions on food advertising to children continue to attract controversy, with disputes over their effectiveness in curbing diet-related illness among children; their scope; their flexibility in the age of new forms of media and marketing; and their value in relation to industry-led approaches.

This interdisciplinary panel will explore legal, ethical, social science and policy dimensions of restrictions on food advertising to children, with a focus on the role of evidence in crafting public health policy and regulating industry practice.


Bill Jeffery is the National Coordinator of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a non-profit health advocacy organization specializing in nutrition and food safety with offices in Ottawa, Washington, and Dallas, Texas, and staff in Toronto. CSPI’s food law reform advocacy is funded by 100,000 subscribers to it advertisement-free Nutrition Action Healthletter, on average, one subscriber within a one block radius of every Canadian street corner. Born in Toronto, raised in New Brunswick, Mr. Jeffery is a graduate of the University of Alberta Faculty of Law, earned a BA (Hons) from Dalhousie University, and articled with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) in Ottawa. He is a member of the Ontario Bar and lives in Ottawa with his family.

Dr. Kristin Voigt is an Assistant Professor at McGill, jointly appointed in the Institute for Health and Social Policy and the Department of Philosophy. She received her D.Phil. in political philosophy from the University of Oxford in 2008 and has held post-doctoral positions at McGill, Harvard, and Lancaster University. Professor Voigt’s research focuses on egalitarian theories of justice and the links between philosophy and social policy. Her recent and ongoing research interests include conceptions and measures of health and health inequality; the use of incentives to improve health outcomes; (childhood) obesity; and smoking and tobacco control. Her work has been published in journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, the New England Journal of Medicine and Public Health Ethics. She has also co-authored a book entitled Childhood Obesity: Ethical and Policy Issues, forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2014.

Dr. Monique Potvin Kent is a Replacement and Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa in the Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences. She has a Ph.D. in Population Health, a Master’s degree in Psychology, and Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Political Science. She was an NSERC Visiting Fellow at the Public Health Agency of Canada in the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control where she completed post-doctoral research in obesity prevention. Dr. Potvin Kent also has a clinical background in eating disorders and cognitive behavioural therapy. She currently conducts research on policies that influence childhood obesity. For the past eight years, her research has examined children’s exposure to food and beverage marketing in Canada and the nutritional quality of this marketing on television.


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