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Government secretly planned to kill Slots at Racetracks program knowing it may “collapse” industry

October 19, 2017

(Queen’s Park) – Internal government documents and emails disclosed as part of a civil lawsuit reveal that the government rushed to kill the Slots at Racetracks program, despite warnings of the devastating impact on the horseracing industry.

The Slots at Racetracks program gave the horseracing industry a share of revenue from slot machines located at racetracks. The Liberals abruptly cancelled it in 2012.

“Now we have secret documents confirming the Liberals were fully aware of the economic damage they would do to rural Ontario,” said PC Horseracing Critic MPP Randy Pettapiece.

“That decision, like so many others, was not about what was best for Ontario. It was about what was best for the Liberals,” he added.

In his question to the Premier yesterday, Pettapiece pointed to an August 2012 email from former Liberal cabinet minister John Wilkinson, who predicted “collapse” of the industry with “23,000 job losses and 27,000 dead horses.”

In another email, a top advisor to former Premier Dalton McGuinty wrote: “meeting with Premier just ended. He was inclined to go to $0 for horse racing.”

There is also evidence that the Liberal government rewrote parts of the supposedly independent advice in the 2012 Drummond Report to fit their political agenda.

“It’s no wonder so many people have stopped trusting this government,” noted Pettapiece. “Whether it’s the phoney ‘Unfair Hydro Plan’, $1.1 billion gas plants scandal, or a secret plan to destroy Ontario’s horseracing industry, the Liberals have given us no reason to believe them.”

Below: copies of internal emails (PDF format)

Karim Bardeesy – Feb 2, 2012

John Wilkinson – Aug 3, 2012

Drummond Input – Dec 15, 2011