Drummond, Duncan Disagree
Published: May 1, 2012 11:46 am ET
Last Comment: May 5, 2012 10:45 pm ET | 8 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
As the state of Ontario's horse racing industry continues to receive mainstream media attention, the battle rages on in Queen's Park over the government's decision to end to the slots at racetracks program. The latest point of contention: just whose idea was it?
On Monday during Question Period, MPP Monte McNaughton asked Premier Dalton McGuinty about the decision to close the slot operations at Fort Erie, Hiawatha Horse Park and Windsor Raceway, "mothballing hundreds of jobs and putting families into distress." McNaughton asked if MPP Kim Craitor presented the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium proposal to the government. McGuinty passed off the question to Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who stated the following:
"Mr. Speaker, earlier in question period, the opposition said we should follow Drummond. We are closing those slots, getting rid of it. That was one of Drummond’s recommendations. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, “Do Drummond” and do as the Conservative finance critic did and call the Drummond report a sham the day it was introduced."
The statement from Duncan seemingly contradicts an email sent from Don Drummond to a horseman two weeks ago and forwarded to Trot Insider. When Drummond was asked point blank if the report called "to end the Racetrack Slots agreement or examine it and see if it was a worthwhile agreement for the government," Drummond said the following:
"We weren't even as precise as the second version in your note. We simply urged the Government to review whether they were getting the best value from arrangements."
In the Drummond Report, Recommendation 11-11 looked to "Review and rationalize the current provincial financial support provided to the horse racing industry so that the industry is more appropriately sustained by the wagering revenues it generates rather than through subsidies or their preferential treatments."
The statement from Duncan in the House follows months of the Finance Minster de-emphasizing and downplaying the value of the partnership, economic impact and employment numbers presented by Ontario's horse racing industry, claiming "nobody" believes 60,000 people are directly or indirectly employed despite numerous studies commissioned by the Liberal government confirming those facts.