Wahnapitei band marijuana business- 2019 letter to the editor of the Sudbury Star

Arguments not logical or fair

In 2014-15, our provincial and federal treasuries lost $1.3 billion because of the Indigenous, reserve-based, illegal cigarette trade.

Now, with reserves like Wahnapitae demanding that their marijuana businesses be tax- and licence-free, those treasury losses are going to be greatly increased, thus severely impairing the ability of our governments to provide all the programs and services that we all, including our Indigenous citizens, expect and demand.

So it’s not right for Indigenous bands, while on the one hand making ever-increasing demands for more monies and services from our cash-strapped governments, at the same time adopting tax haven policies and practices that weaken and deplete the treasuries of those very same governments.

To the increasing extent that this occurs, non-Indigenous taxpayers have to shoulder an increased tax burden to make up the tax difference lost by these activities. This is not right or fair.

Secondly, the monies and services that Canadian taxpayers presently provide to First Nations — a special category of Canadian citizens — are provided to them on the basis that they have rights to them. Hannah Arendt wrote that “only within the bounds of citizenship in a particular state do people have ‘the right to claim rights.’”

If the Wahnapitae reserve claims not to need a marijuana license because they are a separate “nation”, and thus, being citizens of that other “nation”, are not bound by the laws of Canada, they are in effect saying that, to the extent that they are citizens of this other “nation”, they are something less than full citizens of Canada. Therefore, their asserted “rights” to all those monies and services provided, which presumes they are full citizens of Canada and thus fully subject to Canadian law, should be lessened at least by the same amount that their “economically self-sustaining”, “separate nation” activities further impoverish our provincial and federal treasuries.

Peter Best


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