As a result of the First Nations Boycott
NIPISSING FIRST NATION –Anishinabek leaders have endorsed the development of a consumer policy designed to help keep more dollars in the pockets of citizens of their 42 member First Nations.
“About 70 cents of every dollar that comes into our communities is being spent on off-reserve products and services,” said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. “What’s worse, some of these same businesses are refusing to respect the tax-exemption status of our citizens.”
“This leakage has to stop if we hope to develop our own economies as part of our long-range self-government structures,” said Beaucage, who was empowered by Chiefs at this week’s Special Assembly in Garden River First Nation to oversee the development of an Anishinabek Consumer Policy and Bill of Rights.
The policy, to be completed in time for the June, 2007 Anishinabek Grand Council Assembly, would include provision for a preferred supplier program and a process to ensure across-the-board recognition of rights to exemption from the provincial sales tax for all Anishinabek Nation citizens, regardless of place of residence.
“We don’t want any businesses to take Anishinabek consumers for granted,” said Beaucage. “We are constantly hearing of situations where our citizens are embarrassed or harassed in retail establishments about their treaty rights to tax exemption. If people want our business, they will have to earn it by respecting who we are as people, not just customers.”
“At the same time,” he added,” our community members should make every effort to give preference to Anishinabek businesses that provide good products and customer service, even if they have to pay a modest premium.”
Beaucage will be appointing a special working group which will examine a broad range of issues, including a possible certification process for businesses to earn preferred supplier status, a bill of rights for consumers requiring fair and honest businesses practices, and a regulatory regime which could result in consumer boycotts of businesses not respecting tax-emption rights.