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MSIFN, OLG to enter mediation to deal with outstanding issues

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

SCUGOG: The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) are headed for mediation after concerns were raised about potential infringements on past agreements.

“The discussions are centred around claims of agreement violations, bad faith negotiations, and failures to provide consultation related to gaming,” an MSIFN press release read. “MSIFN is seeking relief for the government’s decision to open new gaming facilities near the Great Blue Heron Casino, without providing consultation, despite its duty to do so under Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act.”

In July of 2021, the MSIFN discussed concerns regarding the opening of “a mega-casino in Pickering.”

“The Pickering Casino Resort will operate in close proximity to the Great Blue Heron Casino and Casino Ajax, in spite of previous agreements which limited the number of gaming facilities in Durham Region. In 2018, without any manner of notice to MSIFN, the [provincial government] passed regulations to allow the Pickering Casino Resort to operate, in breach of the government’s commitments with MSIFN to not operate any new casino in the GTA, within close proximity [to] MSIFN’s Great Blue Heron Casino,” an MSIFN press release stated, at the time.

In a statement, MSIFN Chief Kelly LaRocca appeared hopeful about these upcoming rounds of discussions.

“Since meeting with senior government officials three years ago, we have welcomed the opportunity to settle our concerns with the province,” she said. “We see a glimmer of hope, now that they have agreed to mediation. We respect the mediation process and are eager to achieve a fair agreement with the government.”

OLG officials have not replied to a request for comment by press time.

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