November 25, 2009
Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer and Haldimand County CAO Don Boyle spent a few hours in Ottawa Monday and met with several Ministers and their Staff prior to their 5:00pm meeting with Minster Chuck Strahl, Minster of Indian and Northern Affairs.
The day was very “Exhausting but Productive”, said Trainer in an interview with the Chronicle on Tuesday morning. The first thing that Trainer spoke of during the interview was that she wanted to thank Haldimand/Norfolk MP Diane Finley for her assistance.
Finley had arranged a few meetings prior to Trainer and Boyle’s arrival in Ottawa, one with Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minster of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture and Agri-Food) and a meeting with Minister Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety.
The first meeting was with Minister Blackburn, Minister of National Revenue. Some of the key issues that were discussed in the meeting were in regards to smoke shacks and the sale of untaxed cigarettes, the involvement of the RCMP and the possibility of signage that will publicly advertise the fines for purchasing untaxed cigarettes. Trainer was very impressed with this initiative and asked if Haldimand County could be used as their “Pilot Program”. Trainer is hopeful that this program will come in to effect some time next year.
Trainer talked about the involvement of the RCMP in Haldimand County and requested that the RCMP be more involved on a regular basis. “It was refreshing,” said Trainer that our issues were taken very seriously.
Trainer brought some samples of untaxed cigarettes with her to the meeting. Trainer explained that the samples she had were sold for between $29.00-$30.00 dollars a carton (packaged and sold as tax in) and the bagged cigarettes sold for between $20.00 and $21.00 dollars. The purchase of cigarettes in a variety store would sell for between $60.00- $70.00 dollars a carton said Trainer. Trainer said that the Ministry is very concerned about the lost revenue of the sale of these cigarettes on a national basis, not just in Haldimand County.
The second meeting was with Minister Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety who is now the head of a task force that was formed by Stockwell Day in 2006 to deal with the issues of loss of revenue of untaxed cigarettes.
The Director of Policy also attended the meeting and spoke of the sale of untaxed cigarettes being directly linked to organized crime and that this is of grave concern to the Ministry. “She (the Director of Policy) is in tune with everything that is going on and is very knowledgeable” said Trainer, her presentation was excellent!
“Our agenda was very tight, we spoke of the key issues and some solutions” said Boyle. Boyle spoke of the Director of Policy when she told Trainer and Boyle that these issues are at the heart of many communities.
Mayor Trainer, CAO Don Boyle and MP Diane Finley met with Minister Chuck Strahl around 5:00pm Monday afternoon for about an hour said Boyle in an interview with the Chronicle on Tuesday morning.
In the one-hour meeting with Strahl some key issues were discussed. One issue was Haldimand County’s concern over the expansion of the reserve. Trainer’s major concerns were the loss of the tax base, and how this loss effects the repairs of roads, sewers etc. in Haldimand County. Strahl committed to consult Trainer if there is any lands to be added to the reserve.
Another issue that was discussed was “Joint Projects” with Haldimand County and the First Nations. Examples of these projects could be of water projects, tourism and trails, said Trainer. Strahl was very receptive to this idea and said that joint proposals would be looked at seriously.
The duty to consult was also discussed, as was the need for better communications in the future to keep the residents of Haldimand County up to date as to what is or is not going on.
“This was an excellent meeting with Minister Strahl”, he is a very intelligent man, he fully understood our situation here and he listened intently to our concerns, said Trainer. “He is Calm, Cool and in Charge”.
“We had a great day”, we met with some “Top Advisors” that are the decision-makers. Our meetings were “very informative” and we received very good information, said Boyle.
Boyle concluded by saying that “The government is looking at creative ways” to solve land claims issues, and are very respectful to all the communities involved, Strahl listened and explained in layman terms.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009