First Nations remain on alert to Bill 186

LONDON, ON, May 11 /CNW/ - As debate of Bill 186 continued in the Legislative Assembly, the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI) continued its wait for Ontario to engage in a constructive dialogue on the complex issues surrounding First Nations-made tobacco products.

"It is clear that the right to levy taxes and impose criminal records takes precedence over the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples in Ontario," said Grand Chief Randal Phillips, "Despite the rhetoric of building partnerships, improving relations and working together to resolve issues, this new legislation will be the catalyst for continued conflict."

The legislation does not address the province's refusal to recognize products of federally licensed First Nations tobacco manufactures as 'marked' or legal, despite the fact that these firms are in compliance with strict health, safety and labeling requirements, and are inspected by federal officials on a regular basis.

During the debate of Bill 186, NDP Critic, Gilles Bisson, expressed strong concern over the lack of consultation with First Nations on the legislation. Unfortunately, members of the Liberal caucus gave Mr. Bisson the same silence that AIAI has received from the Ontario government on the issue.

In referencing the principles outlined in Ontario's 2005 New Approach to Aboriginal Affairs, Deputy Grand Chief Chris McCormick stated that, "Minister Bentley and others assured me that a draft document would be circulated to seek First Nation input on the tobacco issue, but Bill 186 was introduced into the legislative process without any consultation ."

He added, "It saddens me to see this kind of backtracking on our relationship after a productive approach to HST. When are we supposed to believe the government?"

The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians is a provincial territorial organization mandated to protect, defend and enhance the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of its eight member First Nations.

SOURCE Association of Iroquois

For further information:

Grand Chief Randall Phillips at rphillips@aiai.on.ca or 519-434-2761

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Association of Iroquois & Allied Indians

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