Miller on tobacco law

I have many concerns with the current draft as reported in the local newspaper that will be presented to the HCCC for approval at their Sept. meeting but there isn’t enough space to highlight them all. The most disturbing Rules of Conduct is that the HCCC dictates who a Six Nations citizen can do business with. The Rules say those applying for a license will have to produce the proper documentation plus a verifying statement that the business is 100% Haudenosaunee owned plus proof that a non-Haudenosaunee person has no interest or claim to the business.

The story goes on to say the Rules of Conduct say that anyone who falsely reports 100% Haudenosaunee ownership could lose their license, pay a fine or have the business assets confiscated or suffer other appropriate enforcement activity. Bill C-10 as well imposes stiff monetary fines as well as stiff prison terms.

Furthermore the story says the Rules of Conduct labels Six Nations tobacco and cigarettes “counterfeit”. It says no one shall stamp, sell or distribute “counterfeit tobacco products” on the territory. Bill C-10 labels Six Nations tobacco products “illegal contraband”.  As an elected councilor I consistently pass the message to government that Six Nations’ tobacco industry is “not illegal contraband” or “counterfeit” if you will and that the Six Nations’ tobacco industry is only “illegal contraband” in the eyes of the federal and provincial governments. Well now I’d have to include the HCCC.

This Rule is clearly a direct violation of a person’s human rights. The basic human right of any person gives us the freedom to make our own choices. Naturally we don’t want people with criminal backgrounds doing business at Six Nations but to target all non-native people is discriminatory. More importantly, this Rule is not in keeping with the principles of The Great Law.

Yes, we hear people complain because non-native people are getting rich off our tax free rights. We suspect non-natives are backing businesses in the tobacco trade or the spin off businesses. We suspect some Six Nations people act as cover for a non-native business. But that doesn’t give the HCCC the right to discriminate.

Both the HCCC and the Elected Council are partnering with non-native developers on our lands. Mind you it’s not tobacco. But where’s the fairness in applying the Rules of Conduct to one business sector and not others.

If we think about it the same Rules can be said for the non-native people being allowed to come here and use our tax free rights to buy tax free cigarettes. If the Rules of Conduct dictate that a person has to be 100 per cent Haudenosaunee to get a business license then the Rules of Conduct should dictate that people have to be 100 per cent Haudenosaune to buy tax free cigarettes here.

What concerns me is who is going to enforce the Rules of Conduct? Who is going to go in and shut down a business and confiscate all the products and equipment? Is the HCCC still planning to appoint a Goon Squad of sorts? Certainly hope they have rethought that idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I am 100 per cent wholly supportive of tobacco regulations and a law to protect our tobacco industry even though there are many health issues associated with this industry and little sharing of the wealth. We know many people and families in our community are dependent on the tobacco industry for their livelihood.

In previous meetings we heard the tobacco industry people are prepared to fight if the R.C.M.P. tries to enforce Bill C-10. I believe they will be just as prepared to fight if the HCCC starts to enforce the Rules of Conduct? Will our community become another Akwasasne? Remember when Akwasasne was like a war zone with people fighting amongst themselves and shooting at each other and burning down buildings. I don’t want that for our community and neither should the HCCC.

Councillor Helen Miller

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