BATCHEWANA FIRST NATION OF OJIBWAYS
CAROL HUGHES, MP ALGOMA-MANITOULIN- KAPUSKASING
**************************** Batchewana pounds Ottawa’s pavement in response to HST
Batchewnana First Nation was among the 1,500 protesters in Ottawa, who gathered this week in response to the imposition of the harmonized sales tax that is to be implemented July 1st, 2010.
The protestors gathered at the steps of Parliament and proclaimed in a united voice “no HST!”
Jack Layton accompanied by a number of his NDP colleagues welcomed everyone to Parliament Hill, which he noted was situated on Algonquin Territory.
Layton lead the crowd and commented that the request was simply asking that basic treaty rights be honored.
Layton added that “the imposition of this new tax is a national disgrace which is completely unjust to the First Peoples of this country.”
The crowd marched to the federal finance minister’s office where First Nation’s leaders spoke on treaty rights and Canadian governmental obligations.
Chief Dean Sayers was among the speakers who called on the Crown governments represented by Canada and Ontario to act now.
In written correspondence, Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented that, Ontario has the ability to explore other ways to meet the interests First Nations, that may be outside of the HST framework and encouraged Ontario, and Canada’s finance ministers to dialogue with First Nations regarding this issue.
Chief Dean Sayers on behalf of Batchewana First Nation Council commented that “Ontario needs to act on the prime minister’s recommendation, and coordinate with the First Nations to develop an appropriate point of sale exemption for the interim, until there is time to come up with a legislative option.”
Chief Sayers went on to say: “We call upon finance minsters of Ontario and Canada to take the appropriate action based on their comments and commitments to us. They say they support us, and want to work with the First Nations and now is the time to prove it, their actions must match their words.”
Batchewana was represented at the rally with over 50 participants including council members, elders, youth and children.
**************************** Hughes tells government to get some manners when dealing with First Nations
OTTAWA - Carol Hughes delivered a statement filled with harsh criticism for the government’s lack of manners when dealing with Ontario First Nations on the HST.
Citing multiple requests from Chiefs and even the Premier of Ontario, Hughes joined the chorus of those demanding the federal government meet with First Nations and the Province to come to an agreement on the point-of-sale exemption which will be wiped-out when the HST comes into force.
“The Union of Ontario Indians and the united chiefs and councils of Manitoulin have been trying for months to meet with the minister of finance to discuss the loss of point-of-sale exemptions under the new tax,” said Hughes. “The Premier of Ontario also wants to meet with the Federal Government and First Nations on this issue.”
Hughes explained how staff members for both the minister of finance and the minister of Indian and northern affairs are showing no respect to First Nations leaders.
“Chief Shining Turtle from Whitefish River First Nation has been told, flat-out, to stop contacting the Minister of Finance’s office regarding the HST, Hughes said.
“Staffers from the minister of finance and the minister of Indian and northern affairs have called to tell him to stop sending e-mails. Then, they had the gall to hang up on him.”
“I am shocked that a chief of a First Nation on a very important matter that will affect the people of my First Nation and other First Nations in Ontario would receive this treatment,” wrote Chief Shining Turtle in a letter to Mrs. Hughes on the subject.
Ontario First Nations are claiming the introduction of the HST and subsequent removal of the point-of-sale exemption triggers a legal obligation for the federal government to enter into consultations.
The province has indicated that it is up to the federal government to make the changes First Nations are asking for.