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Hudak, Pettapiece Comment On PC's Five-Part Plan For Racing

Published: November 8, 2013 11:36 am ET

Last Comment: November 9, 2013 7:42 am ET | 9 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak and MPP Randy Pettapiece addressed the media on Friday after the Party unveiled its five-point plan to save Ontario's horse racing industry.

“I don’t know exactly what caused the Liberals to rip away a program that may not have been perfect but that was working," Hudak said in a conference call to media. "I can’t speculate, but I know that we have to fix it. If you have a car with a flat tire, you don’t take it to the junkyard, you fix it."

Hudak looked to the horse racing industries in New York and Pennsylvania as examples of what his party would like to see in Ontario - the slots-at-racetracks program with increased accountability and transparency.

"I think we need to get to a point of predictable, stable taxpayers can count on it and the horsemen can build their businesses around it and hire more people.”

Hudak criticized the OLG modernization plan established by the Liberals and stated his party would end it.

“What the Liberals have done is put tens of thousands of jobs in jeopardy and then they scrambled to put a plan in place that is nothing more than creating a new government bureaucracy for horse racing that is going to result in more government jobs and fewer jobs in horse racing," said Hudak. "What I hear from those in the industry is that even more racetracks are going to close across the province, it’s inevitable under this plan that would force the horsemen to go begging cap-in-hand every year for grants.”

The PC leader referenced the debate endured by Ottawa's city council that eventually settled on Rideau Carleton Raceway as the city's preferred location for gaming expansion.

“I commend Ottawa Council’s decision, and they are reflecting what the PC Party put out over a year ago when we launched our white paper called ‘a new deal for the public sector’ and ‘respect for rural Ontario.’ Both of those talked about how we oppose the so-called Modernization Plan of the Liberals that would tear down racetracks slots to open up new casinos," said Hudak. "We should build on what works, and it sounds like the Ottawa Council has come around on the position that Lisa MacLeod and the PC Party put out about a year ago, so good for them.”

Those sentiments of expanding gaming at existing racetrack locations were echoed by Pettapiece.

"It just makes sense to do this. The Liberal government's come up with a plan to build 29 new casinos in Ontario which is difficult -- as we've seen in the past -- for casinos to make money in Ontario," noted Pettapiece. "But why not put them where gaming already is? We believe that if racetracks want to go down that road, then they should get the first kick at the can at that. It just makes a lot of sense to us and it makes sense to the racetracks."

The news release issued by the Ontario PC Party follows below.

Today, the Ontario PC Party is unveiling a strong and bold turnaround plan for Ontario’s embattled horse-racing industry, recognizing that a robust horse-racing business is a vital component of the province’s rural economy.

“A thriving horse-racing industry is not just something to be toyed with. It needs to have a plan,” says PC Leader Tim Hudak. “The industry employs 60,000 men and women in work they love, and helps sustain small towns and rural communities across the province.”

“It’s too important to lose because of a bad political decision.”

The Liberal decision to pull the plug on the successful slots at the racetracks program devastated the horse-racing industry, and put tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

The Liberals’ plan, made without any plot to transition the industry to sustainability, was dropped on the industry without warning in order to build 29 casinos across Ontario.

“What the Liberals have done has left those in the horse-racing industry having to go begging for grants every year,” adds Randy Pettapiece, Hudak’s Rural Affairs and Horse Racing Critic. “It creates nothing more than another (government) horse bureaucracy that can only lead to fewer jobs and fewer spinoff benefits for broader rural communities.”

In fact, it will inevitably lead to the closure of tracks.

The Ontario PCs’ five-point plan will strengthen public-private partnerships with the job-creating racing industry, not tear them apart.

The core elements include re-establishing, but fixing, a slot at racetracks program that will be transparent, accountable and affordable to the taxpayer.

It will look to best practices in U.S. jurisdictions like New York and Pennsylvania as models.

Randy Pettapiece (Perth-Wellington) will be touring the province on behalf of the Ontario PCs to discuss ways to implement the plan to ensure jobs.

“This is the plan the horse-racing industry has been waiting for,” says Hudak. “We’ve done our homework and we have come up with a plan that will keep thousands employed in a sport that’s in their blood.

“The job now is to get it done.”

The PC plan includes the following core elements:

1. Put an immediate and permanent end to the Liberals’ so-called “modernization plan” that would close down racetrack slots in favour of building 29 new casinos in locations yet to be determined.

2. Re-establish, but fix, a slots at racetracks program that will be transparent, accountable and affordable to the taxpayer. Look to best practices in U.S. jurisdictions like New York and Pennsylvania as models.

3. Form public-private partnerships with businesses that know how to run slots and other games to increase the overall revenue that can be shared with the horse racing industry and taxpayers.

4. Build off of what is already working and successful. New gaming operations – like table games and sports betting – should go to racetracks, as opposed to building 29 new casinos.

5. Enforce strong accountability and transparency mechanisms around how the revenue is used, as recommended in the 2008 Sadinsky report.

(Ontario PC Party)

November 9, 2013 - 7:42 amI will vote for whoever calls

I will vote for whoever calls an election early and has a definite, good plan for racing. Time has run out for most who race at the small tracks (including myself). If you can own and train your own horse you can probably hang on a little longer but if you have to pay a trainer its impossible to wait.

November 8, 2013 - 5:30 pmWHOW Mr Hudak, the Province

Norm Walker SAID...

WHOW Mr Hudak, the Province is looking to: It will look to best practices in U.S. jurisdictions like New York and Pennsylvania as models. Well ain't that nice Mr Hudak if you actually looked into their programs they modelled after the very successfull OSS and SARP that we now seem to hear you say your willing to re-instate with USA rules of conduct. You and a lot in your party would not come out with these statements two years ago when we needed to stop the end of SARP but to get elected you now ask us to believe in you. Some members of your party have worked hard to represent all horsepeople but I get a feeling of its all about Fort Erie for you and the others can fall in where ever with whats left.
I want to remain on a united front so lets see you back up your promises.

November 8, 2013 - 3:48 pmGlad to see this finally put

Chuck Ibey SAID...

Glad to see this finally put out there! Pretty much what most people would consider common sense! Pretty much what most have been saying since this mess started, but finally Mr Hudak putting it forward! Let's hope for the Racing industry's sake it gets done!

November 8, 2013 - 3:43 pmDo you think 60,000 horse

Do you think 60,000 horse people would be enough to put the Conservatives into power? I certainly don't think so. We are the minority.

November 8, 2013 - 2:58 pmEarlier this year an article

Earlier this year an article in the Toronto Star reported that the OLG border casinos had been reduced in value.
Niagara by 35% and Windsor by 20%. These are not the first reductions as they were reported as further reductions.
The drastic reduction of net revenue from these casinos is one of the main reasons for cancelling the SARP program and re-directing horse racings share to the OLG.

It should be easy for the PC's to confirm this and officially bring it in the open.

November 8, 2013 - 2:36 pmThis is great now all we need

This is great now all we need is an election and for everyone in horse racing to speak with one voice in who they vote for. We need all 60,000 plus of us to vote in the same direction to make sure the goal is met, whether that's for ndp or the conservative. Both have said they will reinstate sarp one actually has a plan in how they're going to do it. LETS KEEP ONTARIO HORSE RACING STRONG!

November 8, 2013 - 1:33 pmLet's see some action, not

Let's see some action, not just talk, put some sticks in the liberal's wheels, do not allow them to do anymore harm than what has been done. Ms Whynn is just stalling for time. Already we have lost some of our top drivers and trainers along with the horses, other horses have been retired to their grave because most of small tracks have been forced to close, deminished racing dates. Mr. Hudak, I hope this is not just an other,(WHAT WE WILL DO PHRASE'S. Have a good day

November 8, 2013 - 1:20 pmIt is a flawed plan. What

Jamie Higgs SAID...

It is a flawed plan. What private operator when asked to share slot revenue with the Horse Industry would say "sure no problem" be happy to give revenue to the Horse Industry. When you dig deeper the plan isn't a whole lot different then the Liberal plan. I fear deals have been made by the PC party to private Casino operators and we all know who gets the shaft in the end.

November 8, 2013 - 12:53 pmFinally this party has begun

Dave Nicol SAID...

Finally this party has begun to talk the talk, which is the easy part! If it took 2 years to begin recognizing the billions horseracing participants have been pumping into the economy and ended up with the short end of the stick in this tragedy! How long will it take to walk the walk? As Mr. Burgess pointed out in his blog TIME IS RUNNING OUT for even the most optimistic of us. Please walk quickly OR?

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