UOI OFFICES, Oct. 22 /CNW/ - Anishinabek Nation leaders are cautioning provincial and federal governments that they expect their treaty right to tax exemption to be honoured in the planned harmonization of the Ontario sales tax and the federal Goods and Services Tax.
"The Elders remind us that nowhere in our treaties did First Nations agree to pay taxes to any other nation," said Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. "First Nations are still trying to recover our rightful share of the resource wealth generated from our traditional lands, never mind contributing any more. We are not subjects of the Crown, which since 1763 has recognized us as distinct Nations."
Madahbee said now is the time for both levels of government to work as partners with First Nations to help them achieve economic independence, rather than saddle them with more financial burdens.
"It seems contradictory for these governments that tell the world how hard they are working to eliminate First Nations poverty to be jumping at this opportunity for a cash grab from the poorest people in Canada."
Chiefs of the four Anishinabek regions representing 42 member First Nations were unanimous in their stance on the so-called Harmonized Sales Tax.
"One Nation cannot tax another without their consent, and we have never given that consent to any government," said Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowininini, Chief of Serpent River First Nation and Lake Huron Region Grand Chief "International standards of the treaty-making process are clear: monetary and fiscal arrangements between nations must entail negotiations, not impositions. The Constitution of Canada further clarifies this."
J.R. Marsden, Chief of Alderville First Nation and Grand Chief of the Southeast Region, criticized the province for not urging the federal government to follow the Ontario example of exempting First Nations from sales tax at the point of sale.
"The technology exists to make this happen. Indian Affairs Canada is developing a new secure status card for border crossing for First Nation citizens and I'm sure they can include tax exemption information on the card's magnetic strip."
Lake Superior Regional Grand Chief Peter Collins, Fort William First Nation, predicted that tax harmonization could be a watershed political issue for First Nations in Ontario.
"We understand that the New Democratic Party opposes the proposed new harmonized tax, along with church and charity groups, senior citizens, as well as all lower-income families. Together we will represent a substantial coalition at election time."
Chris Plain, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, who serves as Regional Grand Chief for the Southwest Region, said the HST proposal is the latest entry in a long list of examples of governments ignoring First Nations rights and jurisdiction.
"Time and again we have had to seek remedies to these injustices in domestic and international courts. Canada and Ontario could avoid embarrassment by just doing the right thing and recognizing that we have inherent and treaty rights that are integral to the concept of the rule of law. Canada is now one of only two countries among the world community of 180 that has not adopted the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."
The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 41 member First Nations across Ontario. 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, (705) 497-9127 ext. 2290, Cell: (705) 494-0735, firstname.lastname@example.org