Ontario First Nations rally in Ottawa against the Harmonized Sales Tax

OTTAWA, March 10 /CNW/ - The First Nations in Ontario will hold a rally today against the imposition of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on their citizens. The rally will begin on Parliament Hill followed by a march to the federal Ministry of Finance in downtown Ottawa.

"The federal Minister of Finance refuses to meet with First Nations leadership on this issue. He has shown a complete lack of respect and a lack of accountability for the decision that the federal government has taken to impose the HST on First Nations without so much as an economic impact analysis," stated Regional Chief Angus Toulouse.

Chief Toulouse acknowledged the shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments with respect to the decision to harmonize the provincial retail sales tax with the federal goods and services tax effective July 1, 2010. "We voiced our displeasure with the provincial government. We have clearly relayed to them that they failed to consult with First Nations prior to this decision and that it is not acceptable. We are also bringing this message to the federal government," said Chief Toulouse.

The Regional Chief indicated that the provincial government has at least demonstrated a willingness to sit down with First Nation leaders to find a mutually acceptable and fair resolution to this issue.

"The fact of the matter is that First Nations in Ontario have constitutional rights in Canada and we have treaties with the Crown governments that affirm our nation to nation relationship. This means that the Canadian and Ontario governments have an obligation to consult with First Nations if a proposed action might infringe on these established constitutional rights. Clearly both levels of government failed to meet this obligation," stated Chief Toulouse.

The Regional Chief indicated that the First Nations in Ontario reject the imposition of the HST and will continue to resist it until a fair and just resolution is reached.

"This recent action on the part of government has renewed the call within First Nations in Ontario, and I believe across Canada, to reject all forms of taxation on our people -- including the GST, which was similarly imposed in spite of objections many years ago. This fight is about the larger issue of First Nation rights and goes far beyond the HST issue," said Chief Toulouse. "The HST is of concern to all First Nations because of potential impacts on Treaty and Aboriginal rights," Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated. "First Nations have directed the AFN to call on Canada to respect our rights and not attempt to impose a tax that is only going to inflict a greater burden on our people. We call on Canada to work with First Nations to resolve these issues."

Chief Toulouse emphasized that many First Nation citizens and communities are among the most marginalized and impoverished in Canada and that the HST will place an additional undue hardship, and that First Nations leaders will not give up this fight until their concerns are properly dealt with by both the federal and provincial governments.

SOURCE Chiefs of Ontario

For further information: For further information: Pam Hunter, Ph: (416) 522-0706, Email: phunter@coo.org

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