Flaherty flies first class at expense of First Nations families

OTTAWA, March 10 /CNW/ - The Harper government is trying to create a class system in Canada.

"That's the only conclusion I can come to," Anishinabek Nation leader Patrick Madahbee told First Nation citizens attending a Parliament Hill rally against the proposed 13-per-cent Harmonized Sales Tax.

"Finance Minister James Flaherty has refused to even sit with us and hear our concerns," said the Grand Council Chief, who did not attend because of personal matters and sent a message of support to the demonstrators, who came by the busload from all over Ontario. "When people refuse to even speak with us it certainly creates the impression that they think they are better than us," said Madahbee, who speaks for one-third of the First Nation citizens in Ontario.

"Mr. Flaherty travels better than first class - he charters his own planes," said Madahbee, referring to the finance minister's flight aboard a government jet to a London, Ont. photo opportunity the day after delivering a budget telling Canadians they need to tighten their belts. The cost to taxpayers of the Challenger jet's return trip to Ottawa was an estimated $18,000.

"To put things in proper perspective, the cost of that single airplane ride represents the amount that four First Nations families would pay in HST for a full year's worth of household spending on heating, utilities, clothing, and supermarket supplies," said the Grand Council Chief.

"The best leaders aren't just good talkers; they're usually also very good listeners. But Mr. Flaherty doesn't want to listen to us.

"He doesn't want to hear us remind him that his ancestors agreed to respect us as sovereign nations in exchange for our military alliance, or that our treaties do not give Canada the legal right to impose their taxes on our citizens.

"He doesn't want to hear about the study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives which says First Nations citizens are the only population in Ontario which would bear the full impact of the proposed HST.

"And he doesn't seem to care that thousands of First Nations families - to whom his government publicly apologized and promised a better future - would be further impoverished by $100 a week by this immoral and illegal tax proposal."

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: becmar@anishinabek.ca, www.facebook.com - add Anishinabek Nation as a "friend"

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