OHSWEKEN – Lawyers, Kimberly Thomas and Aaron Detlor presented the third of three tobacco law community meetings last Wednesday at the Six Nations Community Hall in efforts to get feedback regarding the proposed Haudenosaunee at Oswe:ge Tobacco Law. The feedback will be taken back to Confederacy and the working draft of the law will be revised as deemed appropriate.
The presenters stressed the importance of getting a tobacco regulating system in place in the community, as the federal government’s Bill C-10 came into force as of Friday, April 10, 2015. Bill C-10 is the amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada, which makes First Nations people’s participation in the tobacco industry in Canada a criminal act. The bill hands out harsher penalties than what is given for most other criminal or violent offences in Canada.
The presenters at the HCCC meeting recognized and acknowledged that the “tobacco war” would be a battle on several fronts; legally and politically, and that there is a risk that the war may become physical, with a potential for lives to be lost. They acknowledged that unity would be required in the community but no proposal was made on how to achieve that.
The fairly large but quiet group of community members was told that the Haudeonsaunee at Oswe:ge Tobacco Law will rely on “the people” for enforcement.
The draft law requires that a seven person governing tobacco board be developed, as well as an operations unit, with the primary responsibility of implementing and providing oversight; “ensuring accountability to Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council and to the Haudenosaunee at Oswe:ge.”
It is proposed that this oversight board be compromised of two tobacco manufacturers licensed under this law, three members appointed by HCCC and two community members who could, through application, be appointed by those on the board.
This board will then have the authority to develop bylaws regulating the tobacco trade, including setting minimum pricing for tobacco products and setting licensing fees and stamping fees. Business licenses will be issued, and business owners are required to refrain from standard prohibited acts, such as sales of tobacco to a minor. There is the sanction of banishment of those people attempting to do business in the tobacco industry but have no family ties to Six Nations.
A defense fund will be created from the fees gathered under this law and business owners will have access to legal support if trouble arises.
The draft law is written using technical and legal terminology. Kimberly Thomas acknowledged that the community has asked that the next draft be written at a more basic level.
To keep updated on the progress of the Haudenosaunee at Oswe:ge Tobacco Law, visit the HCCC website at www.haudenosauneeconfederacy.com, call 519-445-4222 or check them out on their Facebook at www.facebook.com/haudenosauneeconfederacy.