MONTREAL - Lawyers for three of Canada's largest tobacco firms are attacking the credibility of a prominent witness in a massive class-action lawsuit against the industry.
Robert Proctor is a historian from California's Stanford University who has published extensively on the tobacco industry in books and academic papers.
He was called to testify on behalf of the plaintiffs behind a landmark $27 billion lawsuit that pits an estimated 1.8 million Quebecers against three major tobacco manufacturers.
The case is described as the biggest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history.
Proctor doesn't counch his words when describing what conclusions he draws about the tobacco industry from his research.
He has described tobacco companies as liars, cockroaches and cancer mongers and says cigarettes should be abolished.
Lawyers for the tobacco firms say this points to a clear bias on Proctor's part and are calling into question his expertise and credibility when it comes to the practices of the tobacco industry in Canada and Quebec.
They don't want the court to accept Proctor as an expert witness.
Proctor is a well-known figure in the anti-tobacco movement and has testified at 30 trials over the years. He admits that he has earned more than $1 million for doing so.