I live in Alberta , Canada . I am 58 years old and the issues regarding Aboriginal peoples in Canada have been going on since I was a child . One very contentious issue nowadays is the tax exempt status for Aboriginals buying cigarettes . When they buy cigarettes from the reserve they are exempt from the tax that all other Canadians have to pay .
Originally the tax exempt status was a concept given to Aboriginal Canadians as a tribute to the ceremonial or spiritual aspect that tobacco played in Aboriginal societies . If you look on the internet you can find the ways in which tobacco is to be used traditionally . However that is a far cry from an addiction to nicotine , smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day .
There was no quota at the beginning and this was incredibly abused . People would go around buying up endless cartons of cigarettes to be sold on the market competing with legitimate taxed cigarettes . Untaxed cigarettes ended up everywhere . Then the quota was lowered to 3 cartons of cigarettes per week per person . This was also abused and who honestly needs to smoke 3 cartons of cigarettes a week . I believe the quota now is 2 cartons per week which is still ridiculous .
When this tax exempt status was instated , there was not the information regarding the negative health aspects of smoking that much tobacco . Now that the facts are in it is totally irresponsible to promote cigarette smoking . The negative health aspects of smoking is an incredible drain on the health care system . If you smoke you should have to pay the tax to help defer the costs to our health care system . As someone who has never smoked a cigarette I resent my taxes paying for someone who develops cancer from smoking a cigarette . Beyond that , paying for someone else’s healthcare from smoking who isn’t even paying the cigarette tax is infuriating .
Now it has become an even more contentious issue because cigarettes manufactured on reserves are entering the regular market which erodes the tax base , giving income to Aboriginals while taking away from the tax base . So not only are they not contributing , they are stealing from the tax base .
Following is an excerpt from a news article :
Brian David, a chief on the Mohawks of Akwesasne council for the past four years said that he also believes more policing and increased sentencing is not necessarily the answer.
Akwesasne spans the border between Ontario and Quebec, which have very different taxation levels on tobacco.
David said the concern with the illicit tobacco industry in Akwesasne is the lack of jobs for the youth in the area.
Ensuring legitimate employment opportunities could be the key to Akwesasne’s ability to carve out a future for the youth within their community, he said.
“We don’t have the jobs here, and that’s something we’re really taking a close look at,” he said. “How do we target and create those… positions so that we can retain a lot of our talented educated youth here?”
What kind of comments are these . Brian David says more policing and sentencing is not an answer . Does that mean wherever people refuse to obey the law that we should simply give up and ignore it . Is he saying they are above the law . He says that there is a lack of jobs and ensuring legitimate employment opportunities could be the key . How is selling untaxed illegal cigarettes a legitimate employment opportunity . Then he goes on to say how do we retain a lot of our talented educated youth . It does not matter where in the world you are , if you live in a small place you will not have the same opportunities than a large metropolis . You either have to make do with where you are or you have to move to the opportunities . Aboriginals wanted to live in a traditional lifestyle . If the young do not want that then they will have to pursue their dreams elsewhere just like the rest of us . The rest of Canadians are tired of footing the bill .