Ontario First Nations Reject Settlement Offer To A Share Of Provincial Gaming Revenues



    TORONTO, June 18 /CNW/ - The First Nations in Ontario today rejected a
settlement offer from the Province that would have involved the payment to
First Nations of a share of provincial gaming revenues in order to settle
disputes related to Casino Rama based on the Province collecting a 20% tax on
the Casino Rama gross revenues in breach of promises made at the time Casino
Rama was established.
    The Province's settlement offer involved the payment of 1.6% of
provincial gaming revenues to First Nations that could have amounted to
$125 million per year for 20 years. This would amount to an average of less
than $1 million annually per First Nation. However, it also involved:

    
    -   Compromising First Nations jurisdiction and sovereignty for
        generations to come;
    -   The First Nations being subject to an array of restrictions covering
        the use of the funds;
    -   The First Nations giving up their interest in Casino Rama, which
        should generate $10 billion in gross revenues over 20 years; and,
    -   Abandoning a lawsuit against the Province under which the First
        Nations are claiming over $2 billion in connection with Casino Rama.
    

    The First Nations and the Province had signed a non binding
Agreement-in-Principle in March 2006 outlining the proposal. However, the
proposal that the Province finally presented to the First Nations contained
significant provisions and restrictions that were not referred to in the
Agreement-in-Principle.
    Angus Toulouse, the Ontario Regional Chief, said "We are all extremely
disappointed that the Province's proposal was so one-sided and contained
provisions that the First Nations could not accept, particularly when these
provisions had not been raised at the Agreement-in-Principle stage. As
everyone knows, many of our Nations are in dire need of funding to break the
cycle of dependence and poverty that plagues them. This seemed like a
promising way in which a portion of the needed funding could be provided.
However, the province cannot expect the First Nations to agree to unreasonable
terms and conditions attached to the receipt of that funding. While the
proposal involved a lot of money, there is more at issue than money."
    A formal response will be forwarded to the Province that suggests
positive next steps and a willingness to reach a suitable and reasonable
agreement.





For further information:

For further information: Pam Hunter, Policy Advisor, (416) 597-1266
Office, (613) 203-3233 Mobile

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Chiefs of Ontario

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