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Pettapiece Meets McIntosh Bros.

Published: November 15, 2013 11:38 am ET

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Randy Pettapiece, the Perth-Wellington MPP that serves as the PC critic for rural affairs and horse racing, was in LaSalle, Ont. on Thursday to discuss the state of the harness racing industry with two of the sport's top trainers.

Pettapiece was joined by Essex PC Candidate Dave Brister and Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls at the farm of Bob McIntosh, who was joined by Mark Williams and Doug McIntosh. The PC members discussed the party's five-point plan for horse racing released last week.

"We strongly believe the industry, and all those whose livelihoods depend on it, deserve better from the provincial government," said Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece. "Our plan would put the industry back on a sound footing."

Nicholls added that "Horse racing is essential to south-western Ontario."

The horse racing industry employs some 60,000 people, and helps sustain small towns and rural communities across the province. Brister, Pettapiece and Nicholls also met with area industry representatives to hear their take on the state of the industry and their feedback on the PC plan.

"People in the industry should not have to go begging for grants from the government," said Pettapiece. "The Liberals' proposal would only create another bureaucracy-meaning fewer jobs and fewer spinoff benefits for rural communities."

Inevitably, he added, it will mean track closures.

"In contrast, the Ontario PC's five-point plan will strengthen public-private partnerships with the job-creating racing industry, not tear them apart," Pettapiece explained.

Core elements include re-establishing, but fixing, a slot at racetracks program that will be transparent, accountable and affordable to the taxpayer. It would also look to best practices in U.S. jurisdictions like New York and Pennsylvania as models.

Brister, Pettapiece and Nicholls also praised PC Leader Tim Hudak's strong commitment to the success of the industry.

(with files from the Ontario PC Party)

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