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Liberals have zero credibility on horse racing, says MPP Pettapiece

October 11, 2013

(Queen’s Park) – Premier Kathleen Wynne today unveiled the long-awaited horse racing industry transition panel’s five-year plan for the industry at Grand River Raceway in Wellington County.

But it comes too late for the 9,000 people already jobless since the Liberals suddenly ended the slots-at-racetracks (SARP) revenue-sharing program. The decision was part of the provincial budget passed in 2012 with help from the NDP.

“Kathleen Wynne was at the cabinet table when that decision was made, but she didn’t speak up,” said Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece.

Pettapiece continued: “They did not consult, they did no analysis, and they just devastated the industry. Now they want us to believe they’re the ones to save it? They have zero credibility.”

If the government had consulted with the industry before pulling the plug on SARP, horse racing would be in far better shape today, said Pettapiece, who was on hand for the Premier’s announcement.

In recent weeks, Pettapiece has questioned the Premier in the legislature on the plight of the industry including the job losses occurring at the Fort Erie Racetrack.

The panel’s report recommends retaining just eight tracks: Hanover, Clinton, Grand River, Western Fair, Flamboro, Georgian, Mohawk and Woodbine. That’s a steep decline from 17 tracks just two years ago, Pettapiece observed.

Pettapiece is looking forward to reviewing the report in full, while continuing to consult with industry leaders.

In September, Pettapiece exposed the true cost of the Liberals’ horse racing transition panel. Through a freedom of information request, he learned that the three-member panel has spent, so far, over $526,000 in compensation and expenses.

Pettapiece also pointed out that unlike the Liberals, who only seem to come up with solutions when a Liberal seat is on the line, the Ontario PCs have long had constructive ideas to help rescue the province’s horse racing industry. Contained in the party’s “Respect for Rural Ontario” policy white paper, the plan can be found at www.pettapiece.ca/WhitePapers.

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Randy Pettapiece, MPP  |  416-325-3400  |  www.pettapiece.ca