Highway blockades will go up Monday in Ontario unless First Nations can work out an agreement with the federal and provincial government in Canada over whether a sales tax will apply to tribes. The tax has been the subject of months of protests by First Nations communities (See video above.)
On the table, Karen Howlett of the Toronto Globe and Mail writes here, is a plan to award aboriginal communities a major break from the “harmonized sales tax,” or HST:
The deal will save residents of Native communities between $85-million and $120-million in the first year of the HST, according to a new study done by Fred Lazar, an associate economics professor at York University. However, it will also avert a series of protests just as world leaders descend on Ontario for next week’s G8 and G20 summits.
The protests are set to kick off Monday morning with a blockade of the railway in Batchewana First Nation, a community of 2,400 near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Residents of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, a fly-in community 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, are also planning to participate in the blockade.
Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse says he expects the agreement to be signed tomorrow.
“We’re not quite there yet, but we are making progress,” he tells Howlett. “We’re hoping to have some conclusion to this in the next couple of days.”
First Nations argue that applying the provincial sales tax to them – something that has not been done for 30 years – violates their sovereignty.
Tags: Angus Toulouse, Batchewana First Nation, buffalo post, First Nations, Fred Lazar, Gwen Florio, Harmonized Sales Tax, HST, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, Native American news, Ontario, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, tribal sovereignty, York University