Scugog First Nation Entering Mediation with Ontario Government

Scugog First Nation Entering Mediation with Ontario Government
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The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) is prepared to enter mediation with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). The dispute stems from claims of agreement violations, bad faith negotiations and failures to provide consultation related to gaming. 

MISFN is attempting to gain relief from the government’s decision to open new gaming facilities near Great Blue Heron Casino without providing consultation. Under Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act, the government is required to do so.  

"Since meeting with senior government officials three years ago, we have welcomed the opportunity to settle our concerns with the province," Chief Kelly LaRocca said in a news release. "We see a glimmer of hope now that they have agreed to mediation." 

MISFN claims it warned the government about violations of negotiated agreements and other commitments related to gaming in the Toronto area. Previously, OLG has lost a major claim filed by a consortium of First Nations.  

"We respect the mediation process and are eager to achieve a fair agreement with the government," LaRocca said in a media release. "Our Council looks forward to addressing these longstanding issues in a fair and prompt way." 

MSIFN Against Online Gaming 

Ontario iGaming and sports betting launched on April 4, with new operators such as FanDuel and BetMGM introducing their wagering platforms in the province. Other popular brands such as Caesars and DraftKings also going live in Ontario.  

But LaRocca and MSIFN were not fans of the new gaming market, citing the potential revenue loss to its brick-and-mortar casinos.  

“I think the province should really press pause on this,” LaRocca said to Global News. “Our community felt like it was a slap in the face. iGaming threatens to take millions from host communities our First Nation relies on to build our economy through the provision of clean drinking water, health care, housing, etc. It’s essential to our economy.” 

According to LaRocca, the MSIFN has donated more than $30 million to charities over the past 25 years. In March, LaRocca wrote a letter to the province attempting to challenge Queen’s Park in court, saying Ontario didn’t consult with them, leaving iGaming open to constitutional challenge.  

“The province’s iGaming model will create hundreds of job losses and it will happen without the creation of new job opportunities,” LaRocca wrote.