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9437An Answer from Chief Nelson on the Manitoba Smoking Ban

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  • Don
    Oct 2, 2006
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Rarihokwats
      To: undisclosed-recipients:
      Sent: Monday, October 02, 2006 12:56 PM
      Subject: An Answer from Chief Nelson on the Manitoba Smoking Ban

      P.O. Box 30, GINEW, Manitoba R0A 2R0
      (204) 427-2312 FAX: (204) 427-2584

      (204) 427-2312 FAX: (204) 427-2584

      Letters to the Editor of the Winnipeg Free Press


      October 2nd 2006. Paul Samyn's October 1 column attempting to connect two
      very different issues -- combating the drastic consequences of the mis-use
      of tobacco and the appeal against a court order which would illegally impose
      provincial jurisdiction on reserves -- is an essay based on unfortunate,
      uninformed, and biased views.

      As a national reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, we expect him and his
      newspaper to keep us all informed about what is happening in Ottawa. By
      advancing his confused diatribe, he puts into question his ability to report
      objectively on events which have great impact on the lives of First Nations
      people in Manitoba.

      Paul's concluding logic states that if First Nations would pass smoking bans
      on reserves, we will be able to get the Harper government to reinstate the
      Kelowna accord. We ask Paul the same question he asks us in his essay:

      Let's think more clearly, Paul. Human beings -- First Nations and
      otherwise -- do not stop smoking in their homes and daily lives because
      there is a smoking ban. Manitoba doesn't have such a smoking ban for its
      citizens, why should we have one for ours?

      You are confusing a jurisdiction question with a health issue. If Canada
      were really serious about First Nation health, it would outlaw smoking
      altogether. Oh, wait, that would eliminate some heavy duty taxes, what am I
      thinking. Nothing in there about banning alcohol consumption is there, it
      kills Indians too or maybe mouldy housing?

      Point two: smoking bans are designed not to cut down on smoking, but rather
      to ensure that non-smokers are able to enjoy public environments without
      having to endure second-hand smoke.

      Point three: addiction to tobacco is made more probable by the addition of
      certain chemicals into commercial tobacco. As a result, addiction to smoking
      is one of the most difficult addictions to get under control. Rehabilitation
      is done by education, counselling, treatment, programs.

      Isn't spending modest funding on these efforts to reduce the horrendous
      medical costs of tobacco abuse a worthwhile investment? Did we not pay the
      federal taxes on what we smoke, so why are you complaining when we get our
      own money back? Surely you do not think that the government is likely to
      restore this funding if we would allow the province to enforce smoking bans
      on reserves -- more ridiculous logic, right? C'mon, Paul -- support us
      having $11-million across Canada restored to enhance our own efforts and
      programs to deal with tobacco addictions.

      We're accused of being angry with the province for trying to enforce its
      smoking ban on reserves. Bad research, Paul. Remember that it was the
      Province of Manitoba itself which argued against enforcing its smoking bans
      on reserves. It did so in the provincial court, in the appeal to Queen's
      Bench, and will be doing so again in the Manitoba Court of Appeal. We are
      intervening to ensure our point of view is heard, but please note, Paul,
      that it is the Province making the appeal, not First Nations. Just a small
      fact to remember.

      Finally, we want to be direct about why we are against the provincial law
      being applied on reserve. It has nothing to do with smoking bans at all. It
      has everything to do with the fact that we have a Treaty relationship
      entered into with the Crown which set aside reserves for our exclusive use
      and benefit. We have a Constitution in Canada which supports that
      relationship by making Indians and lands reserved for the Indians the
      exclusive domain of the federal government, not provincial. It is the law,
      Paul! As a result, the Province has no jurisdiction on our reserves -- and
      neither does it use your tax dollars, Paul, to provide our reserves with

      If your logic is meritorious, consider the Province passing "The Paul Samyn
      Law", which makes it mandatory and subject to penalty for violation that
      your family eats healthy food, cleans up regularly, otherwise regulates your
      lives, and of course not allows anyone to smoke in your house -- all for
      your own benefit, of course. Would you object to such an imposition of
      jurisdiction into your home? Of course you would -- and should, even though
      everything you now must do by law you would want to do anyhow. Why complain,
      then, because we are doing the same thing?

      We view the province enforcing its jurisdiction in our reserved territories
      as a home invasion, nothing less. When the province and feds get serious and
      eliminate all alcohol and tobacco consumption, your logic would be a little
      more sensible, for now, I won't holding my breath waiting for them to cut
      off their own taxes on alcohol and tobacco. We ask you to support us in
      ensuring Canadian law respects our rights and treaties. Treaties which gave
      the immigrants a land base where they can enforce their laws as they see fit
      but also respect our right to do the same in our reserved territories. That
      is all this is about. We look forward to the Free Press and Paul Samyn
      providing us with balanced objective news on national affairs.

      Chief Terrance Nelson