Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/5/2010 (4430 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Just as the weather starts to warm up and cabin season gets underway, comes a dilemma set to heat up too, at least for Ontario-bound campers and cottagers. At least one First Nation in Ontario is ready to set up a toll booth to protest against the province's upcoming harmonized sales tax.
Get your change ready, folks.
Garden River First Nation -- just outside Sault Ste. Marie -- has already put up signs along the stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway that runs through its land to let people know they're going to set up toll booths to protest the tax changes.
How much people will pay, or when the toll booth will be set up have yet to be announced. Ontario's HST plan goes into effect on July 1.
We Manitobans aren't directly affected by these HST changes because we didn't adopt them, but here's the lowdown: Both B.C. and Ontario are the latest provinces to change over to the HST system, which basically combines both GST and PST into one neat lump sum that is no greater than the separate taxes but will apply to goods and services that had been PST exempt -- and thus collect more cash.
The feds will foot the bill to implement HST, and the new combined tax is supposed to lead to savings in the long run.
But nobody likes to pay taxes if they don't have to, so there have been a number of groups that have voiced their anger over the upcoming changes.
But when it comes to First Nations, those HST changes will be stomping on treaty rights they have every right to try protect. A lot of people don't take treaty rights seriously, but they are the foundation for the creation of this country and are just as important as our Constitution.
First Nations have traditionally gotten a raw deal when it comes to the feds fully honouring their side of the bargain but when it comes to tax exemption it's been honoured since the treaties were signed.
The way it works is First Nations people who live in Ontario and have treaty cards don't have to pay PST and part of the GST when they buy their goods on reserve. First Nations people can also get a point-of-sale PST exemption when they purchase certain goods off-reserve. The old treaty card still comes in handy.
But that's set to change with the new HST law.
Here in Manitoba things are a little different. If you buy things off-reserve you pay those taxes just like anyone else.
Organizations such as the Assembly of First Nations argue that to increase taxes on a group of people who are already living in poverty is going to hurt them even more. So there have been ongoing protests at Queen's Park and on Parliament Hill for the past few months but, when it all boils down, protests don't often mean a change of heart for government.
And did I mention Couchiching First Nation?
The Ontario reserve just outside of Fort Frances has planned to set up its own toll booth on May 21. They aren't protesting the HST, but are frustrated because of the government's failure to compensate them for land on which they built part of Highway 11. The band says the monies collected will be used to fund social and economic development.
Maybe the First Nations in Ontario are onto something with this toll booth idea. Who knows, maybe there'll end up being toll booths set up all over the country if things get really organized.
It might be more effective than protests anyway.
Colleen Simard is a Winnipeg writer.