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OEF Responds To Sandals

Published: August 31, 2012 1:04 pm ET

Last Comment: September 1, 2012 6:16 pm ET | 8 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Comments made in a recent newspaper article by Liberal Guelph MPP Liz Sandals minimizing the impact that the loss of the Slots-At-Racetracks program will have on the horse industry and the economy has sparked opposition from equine supporters, with the Ontario Equestrian Federation (OEF) being the latest to speak out in an open letter.

In an article published in the Guelph Tribune on Aug. 9, Sandals stated that the Slots-At-Racetracks program was "not an indefinite deal" and that Ontario horse racing's percentage of the revenue-sharing agreement is "a really big chunk of the revenue that’s supposed to go to public services like health and education.”

The OEF responded to Sandals' comments with a letter to the editor, which appeared in the Thursday, Aug. 30 edition of the paper.

"The horse racing industry has been a substantial contributor for these services through revenue generation and taxation, a fact she fails to mention," wrote Allan Ehrlick, president of Ontario Equestrian Federation. "How exactly was money diverted from education and hospitals? The racetracks are doing the revenue generation, not the government."

The OEF's response to Sandals' remarks follows a letter penned by harness driver and Guelph PC candidate Anthony MacDonald and comments made by Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott in the original article.

The OEF's letter can be viewed in its entirety below, along with an ad placed by the organization to raise awareness about the issue.

Sandals insensitive to horse industry
Re: “Sandals says horse-racing industry on its own” (Tribune, Aug. 9)

We wish to address Guelph MPP Liz Sandals’ statements regarding the future of the racing industry in Ontario. We were unaware she was a horse or agriculture expert, as indicated by her comments regarding these industries and their impact on the Guelph economy.

The slots-at-the-racetracks program was never a government subsidy, as Sandals implies. It was a fee for doing business. The program was a partnership between the industry and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which saw racetracks and horseman receive 20 per cent of the revenue from slot machines hosted at race venues already running legal gambling operations. This money allowed the tracks to increase racing purses, update technology and make capital improvements to their facilities. A portion of this money also went to breeders and horsemen.

As for the five per cent paid to municipalities like Wellington and Halton, which Sandals calls a “very, very, very sweet deal,” we suspect she’s only upset that she was not able to secure that same funding for her riding of Guelph.
Sandals states this “big chunk of revenue” is “supposed to go to public services like health and education.”

The horse racing industry has been a substantial contributor for these services through revenue generation and taxation, a fact she fails to mention. How exactly was money diverted from education and hospitals? The racetracks are doing the revenue generation, not the government.

Sandals also states that the slots-at-the-racetracks program was “not an indefinite deal,” which questions why some tracks’ 15-year contracts were renewed, only to be cancelled. Has Sandals and her government identified better revenue-generating options for those farmers and horsemen she represents in the agricultural riding of Guelph?

Demonstrating her equine prowess, Sandals is quoted as saying that the vast majority of horses in Ontario are not race horses. That’s true, but she must feel a struggling racing community won’t impact the non-racing equine industry.

Has her research taken into account the economic ramifications to the University of Guelph, local farmers and Guelph residents who supply and participate in the racing sector?

Has she given serious thought to the resulting future availability of goods and services available to the entire horse industry?

Sandals goes on to say that she is not insensitive to the plight of the over 20,000 race horses in Ontario. But what exactly does this mean? Is she going to open her own rescue facility? We invite her to join us for a field trip to an equine slaughterhouse so she can see first-hand the impact of her government’s decision.

And then there are the 60,000 people employed in the horse-racing industry, 35,000 of which are full-time. Can she seriously tell them that things aren’t that bad?

These are productive, tax-paying citizens, many in their 40s and 50s with no other working experience. Sandals mentions “a bit more transitional money” may be required to help them move into new careers. That’s probably the most accurate thing she’s said yet.

By any measure, the $50 million earmarked to retrain 60,000 people is inadequate. Even if that money could be stretched to retrain everyone, would work be available in this sluggish economy? Perhaps there will be a few dollars left over to pay for Sandals to brush up on her sensitivity training.

The Ontario Equestrian Federation is not a political organization, but we have the responsibility to speak for an industry that is respected throughout the world. The Liberal government has greatly underestimated the impact that ending the slots-at-racetracks program will have on this province, particularly for those in the agricultural and equine industries.

Considering the constituents Sandals represents, her lack of understanding speaks volumes.

Allan Ehrlick
President, Ontario Equestrian Federation

September 1, 2012 - 6:16 pmIt is really clueless of all

Greg Parke SAID...

It is really clueless of all politicians to say these monies didn't support health and education. This money helped a lot of people.
My question is if the government is so damn smart thinking that cancelling the SAR program and having pay the USA to take our excess electricity (yes we have to pay them to take it) instead of giving us Canadians a break, is such a good idea please tell me what your next brilliant idea will be to bring down the deficit, I can hardly wait to hear it.

Greg Parke

September 1, 2012 - 4:09 pmThe passion that has been

jim rigg SAID...

The passion that has been shown by all horse people during this crisis that is facing us has been outstanding!! When you have a fellow willing to get into politics to help this Industry and a fellow who sends his feelings at 4:30 am before he goes to work and a lady who travels from Windsor to Queens Park to support our fight is truly inspiring. I thank them all for their efforts. What would really make me happy if I could find a Politician with enough balls to lodge a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner against the OLG for conflict of interest. I have asked 3 MPPs to do this and for the life of me I cannot understand why they have not when its so obvious. Like Tom Kelly I do hope both Liberals loose and loose royally in the BiElections that McGuinty is so counting on.

August 31, 2012 - 10:08 pmMs. Sandals commented that

Lynne Magee SAID...

Ms. Sandals commented that the loss of the racehorses in her riding/area of Ontario would not impact the local economy very much because there will still be lots of horses around. What she fails to realize is that race horses cost so much more to breed, raise and maintain than do most other breeds. They start training and working much earlier thus requiring top quality feed, more farrier and veterinary work, transporting to tracks from the age of two, harness and equipment from even earlier, eligibility and entry fees, etc. They are simply more costly to maintain. To say that this spending by owners of racehorses will not make much of a difference is simply clueless on the part of Ms. Sandals. This entire party appears to not know nearly enough about the Ontario racing industry and should be ashamed of their comments and actions that are based on their lack of knowledge and understanding.

August 31, 2012 - 5:10 pmTHANK YOU MR. ALLAN EHRLICK

THANK YOU MR. ALLAN EHRLICK for putting the DOTS on the I as so many other have done before,I think it is very odd to have these people in gouvernment who cannot read or administer the populations taxes in an honest way, if we go back a few decades, there was a priminister, his name escapes my memory at the moment, but he ran the hole country in the PLUS FIGURES, ALL PROVINCES AND CANADA DID NOT OWE A CENT. What went wrong, how come the wrong people got in.The way I see it, the gouvernment want's money, GO AFTER THE OIL CO, THE BANKS, THE ELECTRICAL CO, THE INSURANCE CO, AND THE HIGH PLACED POLITICIANS, etc, etc, AND WE WILL HAVE ENOUGHT MONEY TO GO ALL AROUND, AND MAYBE I COULD TAKE A LONG DESERVED VACATION without borrowing. Have a good day.

August 31, 2012 - 4:59 pmEverytime that I read another

Peggy Powell SAID...

Everytime that I read another article from supporters of the horse racing industry it makes me feel proud to be a horse person and I realize that we must work harder to get our message out so that the public realizes that we are not and have not ever received a subsidy from the government. That is why we must make sure that everyone in the ridings of KW and Vaughan that is connected to or that cares about our industry gets out to the polls on September 6th and vote these deceitfull Liberals out of office. If you have done nothing or if you have worked your fingers to the bone in efforts to save our Industry this is the most the important thing that anyone can do . VOTE VOTE VOTE. Most of us are unable to do this . Our fate is in the hands of KW and Vaughan. It is immparative that all eligable voters VOTE. Maybe we could have this important message posted on the Standarbred Canada website. There are more people needed to hand out flyers door to door before the election. Please help.

August 31, 2012 - 4:56 pmThank you Mr. Ehrlick; A

Carolyn Rae SAID...

Thank you Mr. Ehrlick; A very factual rebuttal to the insensitive comments made by the Liberal MPP for Guelph. So sad that a representative of a rural community, housing one of the most famous and world renowned Veterinary Colleges, University of Guelph, knows so little about the mainstream of the Community she is supposed to represent.

Another instance where a Liberal MPP, Liz Sandals, should have engaged the brain (checked out the facts) before opening her mouth and putting her foot in it!

August 31, 2012 - 2:22 pmIn my humble opinion, formed

In my humble opinion, formed on the basis of face-to-face conversations, and through email responses received from Ms. Sandals; ms. Sandals is incapable of producing original thoughts of her own. On all occasions and circumstances, she was simply a robotic puppet of Liberal hierarchy, espousing herself only to the policy of the Ontario Liberal party. She was elected to stand up for her constituents, not denigrate the importance of their jobs and their passion.
As I intimated to a friend at the time of her commentary.. "Ms. Sandals, the brown and white and black and white ones you see on the side of the road outside Guelph are cattle, not horses. ( that's the extent of her knowledge of Agriculture).

August 31, 2012 - 2:06 pmAm I the only one to notice

Dave Nicol SAID...

Am I the only one to notice that every AGRICULTURE or horse operator in Ontario irregardless of breed are adamant in their opposition to the slashing of the SAR agreement? The indirect horrifying damage to many others is a number so large we are all going to suffer the consequences of this ill advised slaughter. There is still time to rectify this folly however most Liberal caucus members still spout the same old lies! There has NEVER been a choice between horseracing and HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION as the Liberal insiders maintain! We as an Industry have supplied BILLIONS toward these priorities and owe apologies to no one! Value for money indeed! Thank you for coming forward like a host of others before you!

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