Laliberte Sounds Warning Bell Over Bill C-23

Wednesday, May 12, 2004 at 13:51



Churchill River MP Rick Laliberte says First Nations leaders might have cause for concern regarding a piece of legislation that could get passed as early as tomorrow.


Laliberte says Bill C-23, formerly known as Bill C-19, could radically change the fiscal relationship bands currently have with Ottawa.


He says First Nations leaders are strangely quiet on this issue, and suspects it’s because many of them don’t know it will likely be voted on tomorrow.


The legislation will give First Nations a chance to “opt in” to an arrangement where they will be finally able to borrow money for capital projects if they start taxing residents of their reserves.


Laliberte says bands that choose not to opt in will have to continue waiting in line for funding from Indian Affairs.


He says those First Nations will find it hard to hold on to the priniciple of no taxation of any kind on reserves when they see the other bands quickly raise cash for badly-needed community projects, and possibly housing.


Laliberte says the legislation is being driven by bands in B.C. who don’t have treaties but have lots of urban reserves.


He says those bands are anxious to tax non-Aboriginal people living on reserve land.