TORONTO, May 14 /CNW/ - A prominent First Nations leader has launched a
write-in campaign designed to reinforce the treaty right of First Nation
citizens to tax exemption.
Speaking to meeting of Independent First Nations today, Anishinabek
Nation Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, candidate for the office of National
Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, outlined his plan to reinforce First
Nation tax exemption as Ontario makes plans to harmonize the province's 8 per
cent sales tax with the 5 per cent federal Goods and Services Tax.
Speaking for 42 member communities of the Anishinabek Nation in Ontario,
Beaucage announced a campaign to inundate the Premier of Ontario and the Prime
Minister of Canada with letters and postcards calling for a continuation of
the point-of-sale sales tax exemption for First Nations citizens for the
proposed new harmonized sales tax.
"Through this initiative, we will make it abundantly clear to both levels
of government that First Nations expect that their right to tax exemption will
be honoured," said the Grand Council Chief. "Regardless of their place of
residence, First Nations citizens should be exempt from both provincial and
federal portions of the new tax."
The March 27th Ontario budget announced plans for the province to sign an
agreement with the federal government to harmonize PST and GST levies.
"The McGuinty government has already indicated they will respect the tax
exemption; we will hold them to that promise," said Beaucage, referring to a
post-budget briefing held with aboriginal leaders on April 1. Hon. Brad
Duguid, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. made the commitment on behalf of the
Government of Ontario.
The Union of Ontario Indians will distribute letters and postcards to
First Nations and aboriginal organizations across Ontario, and is encouraging
all citizens to send them to the Premier and the Prime Minister. Letters will
be available on the Union of Ontario Indians website: www.anishinabek.ca,
while postcards will be available at band offices and Friendship Centres
The McGuinty government has already faced some backlash over the
harmonization plan. Consumer groups are calling for a re-evaluation of the HST
initiative, calling it a "tax-grab" that unfairly targets the poorest people
in the province.
Grand Council Chief Beaucage has said this represents an opportunity for
both levels of government to improve social conditions and provide ongoing
economic stimulus to First Nations, rather than impose further financial
burdens on the poorest citizens in Ontario.
"First Nations in Ontario may be willing to support this taxation reform,
provided it respects our right to tax exemption and improves the way in which
that exemption is processed," said Beaucage. "By continuing to respect our tax
exemption, the Government of Ontario will ensure that it keeps badly-needed
dollars in the pockets of the poorest people in this wealthy land."
Beaucage has also called on government to welcome First Nations as an
active participant in the discussions about the proposed Comprehensive
Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the National organization
representing First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation
communities in Canada. The elected Chiefs from each First Nation will cast
their vote to elect the National Chief in Calgary, Alberta on July 22, 2009.
Grand Council Chief John Beaucage is a citizen of Wasauksing First
Nation, and has led the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation in
Ontario since 2004.
For further information:
For further information: Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand
Council Chief, (705) 498-5250, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Marci Becking,
Communications Officer, Union of Ontario Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext.
2290), Cell: (705) 494-0735, E-mail: email@example.com