Ontario Steamrolls First Nation Calls for Consultation

LONDON, ON, June 2, 2011 /CNW/ - The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI) expressed its strong disappointment with the passage of Bill 186, Supporting Smoke-Free Ontario by Reducing Contraband Tobacco Act, 2011 through the Ontario Legislature. Despite clear appeals by AIAI and the Chiefs of Ontario to halt the legislation until consultations and negotiations with First Nations were conducted, Ontario rushed the Bill through the Legislative Assembly in a process that took less than six weeks.

"This is the clearest indication yet that the Government of Ontario does not fully accept its responsibility to consult with First Nations when new laws impact on their rights," said Grand Chief Randall Phillips.

AIAI was first notified of the legislation the morning of April 21, 2011 by the Ministry of Revenue. Yet once AIAI voiced its objections to the Bill, Ontario simply ignored its concerns. As a result, First Nation tobacco manufacturers that currently hold federal licenses and are in compliance with the federal Tobacco Act have been lumped together with organized crime and people that sell cigarettes to teenagers.

With Ontario's continual refusal to consult with First Nations, AIAI is currently exploring legal options under existing legislative authorities and the Canadian Constitution. "It is unfortunate that Ontario would rather deal with First Nations through the legal system than face-to-face at the negotiating table," noted Grand Chief Phillips, "but we cannot allow these legislative challenges to our rights to continue unabated."

AIAI is mandated as a political territorial organization to 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 519-434-2761 or rphillips@aiai.on.ca

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Association of Iroquois & Allied Indians

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