APTN National News
OTTAWA — Ontario First Nations leaders sealed a deal on the Harmonized Sales Tax with federal and provincial officials Thursday, preempting plans for rail and highway blockades over the looming loss of the 30 year-old point-of-sale provincial tax exemption.
Under the deal, the details which APTN National News first reported Wednesday, the point-of-sale exemption will be suspended over the summer months before kicking in again on Sept. 1.
The point-of-sale exemption was set to be eliminated once the HST, which blends the federal with the provincial sales tax, on July 1.
The deal was hailed as a victory by First Nations leaders in Ontario.
“It was our demonstrations of solidarity and plans for more peaceful direct action that convinced Canada they should not cross the line we drew in the sand,” said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. “My most sincere thanks to our Elders, men, women and youth warriors.”
Madahbee, however, said the deal also highlighted a problem with First Nations peoples relationship with governments as it seems the prospect of blockades on highways and railways as world leaders gathered in Toronto and Huntsville, Ont., for the G20 and G8 at the end of June spurred Ottawa and Queens Park to deal.
“But our concern is that in this day and age we should be put in a situation where we are negotiating our treaty and inherent rights. We are allies of the Crown – not subjects. And we will continue to insist that Canada uphold their own court rulings that they must consult us and accommodate our interests in all matters that affect us and our traditional territories,” said Madahbee.