Province inks tobacco regulations with Akwesasne

In this picture from David Zimmer's Twitter account, the indigenous relations minister and Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict shake hands on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 after signing an agreement-in-principle on self-governing tobacco and revenue sharing with the Province of Ontario. (@DavidZimmerMPP/Twitter via Newswatch Group)

TORONTO – The Ontario government says it’s signed an agreement-in-principle with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne on regulating and profit-sharing tobacco sales on reserve.

The agreement, signed today (Wednesday) by Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer and Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict, has been five years in the making.

Sousa said the deal is a step toward a system where Akwesasne will “generate new revenue for community development.”

The agreement-in-principle will guide both sides toward a formal agreement on allowing Akwesasne to regulate tobacco sales. In return, the province would allow Akwesasne to keep a portion of the profits from the sales tax collected.

“The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne looks forward to continuing to work cooperatively with Ontario, to build on our existing relationship, and to continue to find mutually beneficial economic opportunities that can be supported by both Ontario and the Akwesasne community,” Grand Chief Benedict said.

Akwesasne has been working for four years on regulations to allow businesses to produce and sell their own tobacco products on reserve. The “Tobacco Manufacturing and Products Law” came into force in April after going through a referendum last year.

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