It is an Indian industry that has made some very rich.
We have before us today another half step, somewhat like the initiative of Bill C-79 that allows modifications in the application of the Indian Act for certain First Nations. It is a tinkering and at this rate with 600 First Nations we may address section 87 tax exemptions by the third millennium if we are lucky.
This legislation in Bill C-93 is very much a British Columbia specific initiative. Part II of the bill before us will enable the Cowichan Indian tribes to impose a tax on sales of tobacco to Indians on reserves of the Cowichan tribes. The Cowichan tribe is essentially mandated by the legislation to collect a tax from its own membership similar to the way the province currently collects tobacco taxes off reserve. The tobacco taxation provisions for on reserve sales to Indians vary by province and are very complex in British Columbia.
In some provinces there is no on reserve provincial tobacco tax exemption at all. It is a hodge-podge, getting hodgier and podgier.
To further supplement the application of the first tax in section 2, section 3 of Bill C-93 will enable the Cowichan tribes to impose a second tax or 7 per cent value added tax on sales of tobacco on reserve. One might compare this to the GST which is exempt for tobacco sales on reserve to band members.
Part IV of Bill C-93 enables another First Nation, the West Bank First Nation, to impose a 7 per cent value added tax on all sales of tobacco products on its reserves. The West Bank band provisions do not include the provincial equivalent taxation provisions that apply on this bill to the Cowichan tribe.
I have raised the issue of native taxation many times both in and out of the House and I have received the rebuke and bluster of the minister. His approach, like his predecessors, is to maintain more or less the status quo.
The government now spends more on natives than it did three years ago. The Indian Act has not been amended, let alone repealed. Accountability for funding is no closer to acceptable procedures, and complaints from many quarters about undemocratic band elections remain unaddressed. Here we have complexities in our taxation scheme in Canada being assailed from all sides. A simplification need is apparent.
Whose agenda is fulfilled by this initiative? Legislative tinkering has become a substitute for substance and vision from this government.