Sask. government wanted to sell casinos to First Nations
Casino Regina, Casino Moose Jaw part of proposed deal
The Saskatchewan government had been working on a deal to sell its casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority — but that plan appears to be shelved for now.
The Saskatchewan government confirmed the proposed deal Monday morning. In a news release, the provincial government said the main objective was to ensure that a greater portion of SIGA's revenues were directed to educational and employment opportunities for First Nations people.
The New Democrats say the Saskatchewan Party government asked the Opposition to get on board, but NDP leader Cam Broten said Monday he won't support a "rushed, secret deal to sell valuable public assets."
SIGA already runs casinos throughout the province, but the two lucrative casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw are owned by the Crown.
The Saskatchewan Party had previously campaigned on not selling Crown corporations and said selling Crowns before the next election would require the co-operation of the Opposition.
Broten said he won't be rushed into signing a deal for something this important.
"To fast track, to be pressured to urgently pass legislation in violation of the Crown Ownership Act, that game's not on," he said. "I will not agree to do that. If this was the long-standing plan of this government, they needed to introduce that in the fall sitting."
Wall said the chance to do something positive for aboriginal people in education and employment warranted moving swiftly.
"Can we do more? If we finally found something that will work after decades, after years of trying to find solutions to these problems, I think we should be trying to find every resource possible," he said.
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde said selling the casinos to SIGA, the gaming organization run by the province's First Nations, is an idea with merit.
"If this is one small positive start in the whole gaming piece, let's look at that," he said. "Then let's start exploring forestry, let's start exploring mining, and tourism and everything else, every other sector. But this is positive movement."
With the NDP saying no, the government says the deal can't proceed in the short term.