NORTH BAY, ON, Jan. 18 /CNW/ - The 40 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation are launching a comprehensive information and direct-action campaign against the proposed Harmonized Sales Tax, which Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee has labelled "illegal and immoral".
"In our eyes it is illegal for Canada to continue to try and force its legislation on our people without even consulting us, not to mention without our consent," said Madahbee, citing recent Supreme Court decisions and international law requirements that governments accommodate the interests of First Peoples.
"Canadians are fond of talking about how important "the rule of law" is when they complain about First Nations peoples standing up for our aboriginal and treaty rights at places like Oka, Ipperwash and Caledonia," the Grand Council Chief told a gathering at the North Bay Indian Friendship Centre. "But they seem to have a blind spot when the rule of law confirms indigenous rights. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the 1764 Treaty of Niagara recognized our peoples as distinct Nations. From Tecumseh to Tommy Prince, the Anishinabek have been allies of the Crown in Canada; but we have never agreed to be her subjects, and we have no treaties in which we agreed to be subject to her taxes."
Of more immediate concern than the jurisdictional issue was the economic impact that piggy-backing the 8% Ontario retail sales tax and 5% federal Goods and Services Tax would have on Anishinabek households.
"Governments call this tax "revenue-neutral", said Madahbee, "but the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says First Nations citizens 'will be subject to the full impact of the HST without any of the offsetting benefits'. Our analysis predicts that there will be a negative financial impact in the range of $100 each week for each Anishinabek family."
He noted that a Senate report on poverty tabled in December said the federal government needs to be mindful in creating fiscal policy that First Nation families are among the most vulnerable in Canada, describing them as "generally poorer and less adequately and affordably housed" than others across the country.
"More and more we are hearing social scientists say that it is immoral for wealthy nations like Canada to permit extensive poverty within their borders, especially when public policy actually contributes to poverty, as will be the case with the HST."
In addition to mounting an intensive communications campaign - Madahbee noted that the Union of Ontario Indians attracted over 300 friends to a new Anishinabek Nation, anti-HST Facebook site within hours after launching it. The Grand Council Chief said citizens of the 40 Anishinabek First Nations were mobilizing protests that could have impacts on retailers and motorists across Ontario. He also indicated that the Union of Ontario Indians is investigating such options as domestic and international legal challenges and human rights complaints regarding the proposed new tax.
The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.
SOURCE Anishinabek Nation
For further information: For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of Ontario Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext. 2290), Cell: (705) 494-0735, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com - add Anishinabek Nation as a "friend", http://www.myspace.com/anishinabeknation