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Bill C-218 - Senator Cotter

Senator McCallum: Senator Cotter, you said to have some faith in provinces. As a First Nations person who works with Indigenous people across the country, the problem is that the provincial-Indigenous relationship is not good. When I look at Bill C-92, we had conversations with people in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba who are unable to get to the table because the province is unwilling. That’s something that we have to clear up because we passed the bill.

What if you can’t get the province to the table? Those thousand threads of accommodation haven’t happened, they still won’t happen and you can’t legalize and regulate if it’s under provincial jurisdiction. How do you propose to deal with this when we keep passing laws that keep putting Indigenous people in the interjurisdictional gap? That’s something that we haven’t dealt with as a Senate, and we keep passing laws and people keep getting in the gap. Would you make a comment, please.

Senator Cotter: It’s easiest for me to speak about Saskatchewan. I think the model I’ve described has been a constructive partnership among First Nations and with First Nations and the province. That model has actually been adapted and adopted in other parts of the country to the credit of other jurisdictions.

If one is thinking about First Nations who may be operating without partnerships with the province, this legislation has no effect on them. It doesn’t compromise their ability to operate. Those are choices that they get to continue to make. I understand the line of argument, and I’m not unsympathetic to the jurisdictional argument. I think we finessed it in Saskatchewan. It just seems to me that a line in the Criminal Code is not the place on which to focus for the construction of our jurisdictional framework that reaches, and I think should reach, far beyond the question of gaming, and particularly single-event sports betting.

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