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Bill C-218, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting)

Senator McCallum: The Mohawks of Kahnawake have, for more than two decades, asserted their inherent jurisdiction to conduct, facilitate and regulate gaming and gaming-related activities within and from the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake. This jurisdiction has been recognized globally and never been challenged. The Mohawks of Kahnawake currently exercise this right by conducted, facilitating and regulating both land-based and online gaming.

More important, sports interaction is a vital source of job creation in their community, and the profits have done significant good, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Deer said that Bill C-218, as currently constructed, simply does not reflect the Mohawks of Kahnawake’s right and threatens the continued economic resilience of their community, including their ability to recover from the economic damage of COVID-19.

How will this bill impact the Mohawk jurisdiction over their right to gaming?

Senator Wells: Thank you for your question, Senator McCallum. I read the press release from the Kahnawake band; I read it with great interest.

It was asking for them to maintain what they currently have. I don’t think that changes under this legislation. In fact, it levels the playing field so that every band, every province and every organization that regulates gambling in Canada has the same opportunity as the Mohawks have. I don’t think this in any way diminishes from an unfair playing field aspect; in fact, this levels the playing field.

I read the letter, and I recognize some people are not going to be for this bill. However, overwhelmingly, I heard from people who are for this bill for the reasons I outlined in my speech.

Senator McCallum: Senator Wells, I wonder if it would be possible for you to meet with Chief Deer and that Mohawk nation to discuss this.

Senator Wells: Senator McCallum, I’d be happy to meet with the chief. I would also encourage the chief to appear at whatever committee the Senate decides to send this bill to, where they can present their ideas to the wider audience of the committee.

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