Slippery slope

It appears aboriginal peoples will be exempt from the eight-percent provincial portion of the new HST, set to take effect in Ontario on July 1, at point of sale rather than receiving rebates only after filing their income tax returns (as is currently the case with the GST).
A no-brainer decision, really, given natives in Ontario haven’t had to pay PST when making purchases for some 30 years. And besides, similar exemptions already have been extended to other sectors, including the newspaper industry.
The problem is the decision wasn’t a no-brainer. Rather, it comes only after native threats to “shut down the country,” using tactics from toll booths to outright blockades, during the G8 and G20 summits later this month when leaders from around the world—and the accompanying media glare—will be in Canada.
It’s unfortunate that foot-dragging, as well as having pleas seemingly fall on deaf ears, has prompted First Nations to resort to such actions to wrest concessions from government, much like the case here last month when Couchiching First Nation set up a toll booth on Highway 11 for 10 days.
What’s troubling is that the tactic obviously is working—and looks to be gathering steam with each success. The Globe and Mail, for instance, today quoted Alvin Fiddler as saying maximizing exposure to native complaints would be the main topic at a meeting of native leaders scheduled for here in Fort Frances next Tuesday, adding, “It’s direct action that usually gets the most attention.”
True enough, but where does it end? And what’s to stop other groups from flouting the law, or issuing threats, to protest a government policy or decision?
It’s time to get off this slippery slope while we still can.


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