TORONTO, May 6 /CNW/ - The proposed provincial Bill-186, Supporting Smoke-Free Ontario by Reducing Contraband Tobacco Act, makes the primary focus of the legislation a punitive action rather than tobacco use reduction strategies. It specifically targets products that are grown or manufactured within First Nation communities and under the jurisdiction of First Nations. The Ontario Ministry of Revenue introduced these proposed amendments to the Tobacco Tax Act, on April 21, 2011, in direct opposition to the inherent Aboriginal right to the cultivation and trade of tobacco.

There are many outstanding issues regarding jurisdiction, economic development and trade that should have been discussed with First Nations leadership beforehand. Instead, First Nations were only made aware of the proposed amendments the same morning the legislation was introduced.

"For a government that prides itself on consultation and transparency this lacks the goodwill that must underpin a successful working relationship. Instead this serves to once again to trample on our collective rights," stated Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse, "Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides that we have the right to freely determine our political status and our economic, social and cultural development. Tobacco has been a trading commodity for First Nations for thousands of years. We possess Inherent rights, protected by the Treaty relationship between First Nation and the successor state of Canada, to produce, trade, and use tobacco. Given these considerations it is appalling that the Province would proceed with this initiative."

Today, the Political Confederacy of the Chiefs within Ontario met and agreed that First Nations will continue to protect our inherent right to trade and commerce activities and promote economic development within our First Nation communities. This will include opposing Bill-186.

The Chiefs of Ontario is a political coordinating body for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario.

SOURCE Chiefs of Ontario

For further information:

Andre Morriseau, Communications Officer
Ph: 416-580-9320

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