Ontario First Nations Win Long Hard Fought Fight for OLG Board Seat

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Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy
Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy
Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy
TORONTO – First Nations in Ontario have won a long and hard-fought arbitration battle that awards the Ontario First Nations [2008] Limited Partnership (OFNLP2008) a seat on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) Board. An Agreement was signed in February 2008 in settlement of a multi-billion dollar law suit brought by First Nations to settle long standing grievances over the development and operation of Casino Rama. As part of the settlement agreement the Province committed to appointing a representative of OFNLP2008 to sit on the OLG Board.

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy stated “The lack of an OFNLP2008 representative on the OLG Board has caused extreme prejudice to the 132 First Nation Limited Partners. They have had no say whatsoever over the major gaming strategy shifts initiated by OLG during this critical period. Some of OLG’s worst blunders might have been avoided if the perspective and advice of First Nations had been sought and valued.”

Regional Chief Beardy added “This issue is now on the desk of Premier Wynne. The complete and utter failure of the Province to live up to a simple contractual commitment for more than seven years continues to undermine the confidence of many First Nations in the Ontario government’s moral and legal reputation. The Crown, in right of the Province, has been dishonoured. If the Premier is serious about a new and positive relationship with First Nations across the board, she must act now on the OLG appointment scandal.”

In the intervening seven years the Province has schemed to frustrate and avoid the contractual commitment to appoint a First Nations representative to the OLG Board. The relentless stonewalling and red tape of the Province left the OFNLP2008 with no other option than to file a grievance under the dispute resolution process outlined in the Agreement.

An Arbitration Panel of three former Superior Court Justices was finally permitted to consider the merits of the First Nation grievance in November 2014 and released their unanimous decision on March 13, 2015. The decision condemned the conduct of the Province since 2008, noting an “odour of moral failure” on the part of the Province and provided ten examples of out-and-out bad faith.

The decision went on to give a strong critique of the evidence of the lead witness from the Ministry of Finance. The Panel issued a Declaration that the Province: (1) breached its contractual obligation to appoint a representative of OFNLP2008 to the OLG Board; (2) acted in bad faith in performance of the Revenue Agreement; and (3) violated the constitutional principle of the Honour of the Crown. Ontario chose not to appeal.

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