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Hudak’s Open Letter To Wynne

Published: October 30, 2013 12:28 pm ET

Last Comment: October 30, 2013 6:22 pm ET | 5 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Wednesday, October 30, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak penned an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne outlining his party's course of action for the Fort Erie Race Track and the provincial horse racing industry.

The contents of Hudak’s letter appear below.

Dear Premier Wynne,

Noting your new commitment to openness and transparency, albeit despite some serious concerns on your government's record, let's put the spirit of it to the test by getting something done for the people of Fort Erie and Niagara who need to retain a viable horse racing circuit.

Your government – along with the help of the NDP – made a short-sighted decision to close the slots at the Fort Erie Race Track. With barely a month's notice, these slots were gone. The cost was thousands of lost jobs and a crippled local horse racing industry that is now on the road to closure. I was strongly opposed to that decision and remain opposed. I'm convinced it was not a wise business decision, but a knee-jerk one based purely on politics.

Fort Erie is my hometown. I was born and raised there. Back in the late '90s, I fought hard to keep the track open by championing slots at the track as a revenue-sharing mechanism that would benefit local communities. There are ways to save that beautiful oval in Fort Erie – one which has survived two world wars and the Great Depression – and save other tracks and jobs across Ontario that are vital to their communities.

It is a three-point plan: Restore slots, form a public-private partnership with a business that knows how to run them, with accountability measures in place, and share the revenue locally.

I have fond memories of the track and I believe in its future. That's why the Ontario PCs, and our lead critic Randy Pettapiece, have put forward a plan. It's one that will strengthen partnerships with the job-creating horse racing industry, not tear them apart. It's what rural Ontario, the horse racing industry and thousands of dedicated workers deserve.

The first thing we need to do is get the government out of the gambling business and acting, instead, as a tough and respected regulator. Slots should be run by businesses proficient in gaming to increase overall revenue and attract more customers to racing.

Any expansion of gaming should be at race tracks first – why not build off what is already working and successful in welcoming communities? While I believe only a Liberal government could lose money running a casino, a business case presented by experts in the field could see gaming reestablished at Fort Erie to great success.

As a condition for operating the slots, of course, the private operator would be required to share a certain percentage of slot revenue with the local horse industry, whether it be thoroughbreds, standardbreds or quarter horses. Given our current fiscal circumstances this would be more modest than it was under SARP. But the stable, long-term revenue stream would give the horse racing industry the certainty it needs to make investments and create jobs in Ontario.

In order for this to work, we need strong accountability mechanisms around how the money is used, as recommended by your government's own Sadinsky Report in 2008. A certain percentage should be dedicated for industry-wide initiatives to ensure a growing market. This has been our plan. We put it forward in our white papers and I sat down and shared it with you during our meeting. You're the Minister of Agriculture as well as the Premier. Will you move forward, therefore, to secure this track's future and ensure its sustainability?

I look at everything as a way to create jobs, and to grow our economy. You seem to want to close down the tracks and toss people out of work. Let me be absolutely clear about this: I fought for that track. I fought to keep it open. I'm prepared to do so again. Are you?


Tim Hudak
Ontario PC Leader

October 30, 2013 - 6:22 pmOK Tim you are so fixed on

Norm Walker SAID...

OK Tim you are so fixed on Fort Erie and all the problems they have been through with the quick shut down of SARP, would it have hurt you to make mention of Windsor, Sarnia and how they also got hit with short notice and also put people out of work? If the whole PC party is only concerned with their personal hometowns that does not leave a warm feeling as to where you see as you said rural Ontario, Fort Erie doesn't spell rural Ontario to me. Tim, all horse people need your support.

October 30, 2013 - 5:22 pmNo amount of privatization is

Ian Howard SAID...

No amount of privatization is going to make the Fort Erie slot location viable. 9/11,the depressed state of the Fort Erie economy, and competition from Niagara and across the border made this location unable to sustain racing under Sarp let alone in today's world.
If Fort Erie is to be saved it has to be subsidized. The people of Fort Erie deserve better than to be cynically used as a political bargaining chip in a by-election.
Dalton McGuinty, Dwight Duncan, and Paul Godfrey recklessly and needlessly destroyed an industry that needed reform. Premier Wynne will never restore this industry to what it was but at least she isn't dishonestly using Fort Erie to win a by election. I for one will take an unpleasant truth over a cynical manipulation of a very depressing situation.

October 30, 2013 - 3:48 pmThis is not a real plan which

Georg Leber SAID...

This is not a real plan which is my objection to all the White Papers written by the PC's.

A real plan talks about specific funding and how it is paid out and managed. The Liberals showed us a plan. I don't like it and its not going to solve the problem but its the only plan out there. The fact is, the opposition including Hudak, Monte Mc or even my friend Anthony Macdonald has not written a specific plan after all this time. By the way, I have offered to write it for them but I can't get an audience. NDP's don't have a plan either.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

October 30, 2013 - 3:40 pmThis program is the one that

Peggy Powell SAID...

This program is the one that the million dollar panel should have come up with. It protects everyone. I would be surprised if it cost Mr.Hudak even a thousand dollars. He just used his head and a little common sense.

October 30, 2013 - 1:30 pmThis plan makes so much

This plan makes so much sense. Just thinking. sincerely Bruce T. Winning

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