Band to support bingo manager

Marshal Jourdain won’t be alone in court in August when he faces a charge of keeping a common gaming house–he’s going in with the full support of Couchiching’s chief and council.
Jourdain, 50, manager of the former Couchiching Bingo Palace, was charged last Wednesday following a joint investigation by the Ontario Illegal Gaming Enforcement Unit and the OPP.
He has been summoned to appear in court here Monday, Aug. 10.
The investigation was launched after the hall, which closed its doors last month, continued to operate despite the fact its license to conduct bingo games was revoked last October.
But Couchiching Chief Chuck McPherson said yesterday council will be going to bat for Jourdain, adding the province does not have the right to demand the band license its hall.
“We view licensing as a form of taxation,” he argued. “The province does not have the jurisdiction to tax on the reserve.”
Chief McPherson noted a Thunder Bay lawyer has been retained for legal advice on this issue and is at Jourdain’s disposal–if he so chooses.
“At any time it is [Jourdain’s] option to proceed with it, or to come to a settlement,” Chief McPherson noted.
Meanwhile, Fort Frances OPP S/Sgt. Hugh Dennis said the charge is a dual process offense, meaning the Crown can either prosecute the offense as an indictment or as a summary conviction.
If done as a summary conviction, Jourdain could face six months in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. If done as an indictment, he could face a maximum prison term of two years.
Police haven’t charged anyone else with the offence, nor are any other charges expected to be laid.
“I think it was totally inappropriate he was singly charged,” Chief McPherson said. “He is an employee of the band. If anyone should be charged, it should be me and the band council.
“We’re supporting Mr. Jourdain here 100 percent,” he stressed.