One-On-One With Kathleen Wynne

Published: December 18, 2013 10:10 am EST

In an exclusive interview with Trot Magazine Editor Darryl Kaplan, the Premier of Ontario and Minister of Agriculture & Food Kathleen Wynne discussed the state of the province's horse racing industry and imminent re-integration with the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp.

Stating that she "wants the industry to thrive", Wynne answered questions pertaining to modernizing and integrating gaming and racing, slot machines and racetracks, returning to the slots-at-racetracks program in Ontario, industry confidence in this partnership and plan, the tracks left out of the five-year plan, what 'sustainability' looks like, the state of the breeding sector and foreign investment.

Wynne did confirm that there "will be other products and other ways of generating revenue" for the horse racing industry in collaboration with the OLG but has left the details of such arrangements to be finalized and left in the hands of Transition Panel members John Snobelen and Elmer Buchanan -- who is now the chair of the Ontario Racing Commission.

(Note: If you are having difficulty loading the video in HD quality, you can adjust the settings to a lower quality and quicker web stream by clicking on the red 'HD' symbol near the bottom right hand corner of the video.)



We are being setup by this government. They know the three breeds cannot get together - there are just too many differences in the way they operate. But, by Buchanan saying work together or no money - they have now given themselves an out. They have just wasted thousands more of everyone's money. Where are our leaders? They should be going to every press in Ontario and letting them know what sneaky antics are being used.

I watched half of that interview and I was getting nauseous. How much non sense can one person speak. (Kathleen wynee) I just listened to 5 minutes of Absolutly nothing. Time is ticking!!! Racing doesn't need more studies. It needs more money!!! Enough of this mumbo jumbo it is sickening!

Why has this government that acknowledges it moved far to fast in cancelling the race program not at least given some form of tax relief for all the losses taken by the people in this industry??? Secondly has anyone thought about checking to see if in fact the government can just cancel a business without any form of compensation to the people. They cancel tobacco programs and offer all the farmers a buyout but nothing to the horse industry????

Auditor generals report due out early next year was the response given to me by the auditor generals office in an e-mail response, if I know that I am sure she does also. What makes the panel experts on the racing industry other than her saying so? The USA casino owners are far from giving up on their casinos downtown no matter what the people say and are getting ready for the next round of propaganda, truth is we would be better off if they were downtown if we get no revenuse from them. Its obvious to anyone that a deal has already been made by the liberals and US casino owners and they must live up to it no matter the casualities. OLG is going to be the USALG. I wish the Premier was asked how putting so many Ontario people out of work to send tons of money to the USA is good for Ontario? I also wonder how she would justify 47% plus expenses going to bingo halls (Larry Tannenbaum)

Unfortunately, Ms. Wynne still seems to think that there is 'time' to put The Plan into force and believes that it will be a positive outcome for racing. Time ran out for far too many of our horse people and horses long ago. Those that remain are looking at a watered down version of a once vibrant industry that offers little in the way of breeding stock and viable racing opportunities with adequate purses. April of 2014 seems to now be the target date. We always seem to be waiting for that 4 - 6 month "target date" and it keeps getting moved forward. Just how long can we be expected to wait on this government to get their plan into action? This game of cat and mouse has gone on far too long and has taken its toll in so many areas of the rural economy.

Good interview. I'm sure Darryl would have liked to ask a few more "pointed" questions ... but when the Premier at least agrees to talk with you,I suppose you don't want to embarrass her by putting her (too much) on the spot.
No doubt, Kathleen Wynne is sincere about wanting a viable Ontario Horse Racing industry. The fact remains, however, that it was the misguided decisions of the former Liberal Government that brought Ontario Horse Racing to it's current state ... and there seems to be no sense of urgency in fixing the problem by those assigned with the task. Relying on the OLG and a couple of "politicians" that have been dubbed as "Horse Racing Industry Experts" just doesn't cut it.

I had to shake my head a little this morning as I listened to a CBC Sudbury news report. Sudbury Downs is of course one of those tracks that won't likely survive based on the current transition plan. The news cast reported that there was some concern because the amount of funds provided to Sudbury Charities by the 2 major Bingo Halls (operated by Boardwalk Bingo) had declined this year. In almost the same breath, they reported that the Bingo Halls were now retaining 47% of the revenue based on their new agreement with the OLG ... just another issue that the current Government needs to review.

Good interview Darryl. She sounds sincere in wanting to help the industry but is somewhat vague. However, what was done is done. No sense going over the recriminations for past actions. It is time to look forward.

Really nothing new.....but the Premier was unusually silent on the yet to be released Auditor General's report. With a looming election in early 2014, I sense this issue will be front and centre in 'rural Ontario' (wherever that may be) and the already released "promises" from the PC's and NDP may force the Liberals to change their strategy away from the '5 year plan' to a more realistic and immediate resolve in terms of both increased race days and increases to the purse structures. Elections are about strategy, promises and timing. Unfortunately, for the voters, it becomes an issue of "who do you believe" will act on those promises??

Well done Darryl but you were playing a game with Ms. Wynne likened to the dog chasing his tail---round and round he goes without ever taking hold of the damn tail. Yet another exercise in frustration. Ms. Wynne has a script and she is sticking to it word for word. When things get dicey, she refers the question to "John and Elmer" --- the McGuinty- appointed 'saviours' of horse racing. It's unfortunate that she doesn't listen to some of our industry players like Jack Darling to get a real feel for the current state of horse racing. Thanks for giving it a shot Darryl. I think we all need to continue writing to Ms. Wynne with our personal stories and concerns to get through to her because I think that she may truly give a damn.

Nice try Darryl! Unfortunately the talking goes on and on and on, but the action waits for months and months and months, without any fruition! Experts? John, John and Elmer? They sure talked a lot! Listened, HARDLY. Is my confidence level improving? After purchasing part of 3 Ontario breds this fall, I*m probably in the 5% confidence level! Too bad they hadn*t asked your advice on how to repair the damage! I*m sure it would have come forward in short order with accuracy and a lot smaller price tag! Thanks again!

Good job Darryl, but let me quote something that Ms Wynne said" I think there is a place for horse racing in Ontario." Where has she been the the last 60 years???. The horse racing industry has been supplying the government coffers with millions over the last 20 years or so. I'm sorry Ontarians, but this government is a farce. "Politically Incorrect". The industry has been working all along with the government putting billions in their coffers. WHAT'S ALL THIS BULLS___. Have a good day.

I listened to and watched Ms Wynnes body language during the interview. I actually do believe she wants to rectify the current decimation of our industry.
Having said that I really don't believe she can help us because she is being guided by a panel that has absolutely no clue of what they are talking about. I would welcome any of the 3 panel members to contact me so as I can say that to them directly. UP TO $80 million a year is the salvation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had an agreement in place that used to generate nearly 5 times that amount every year. Every day human and horse flesh leave the industry or leave the province to stay in the industry. How can this be a vote of confidence to the progress the panel and liberals have achieved to this point. Every day the Americans are announcing new racinos in various jurisdictions copying what we or to the credit of the PCs started years ago. I purchased shares in 6 stallions within the last 3 years and only 1 stallion is still standing in Ontario. How much money did I or others like me lose because we trusted an agreement that was made to allow slot machines in our racetracks. Owners cant pay training bills for the purses we race for and now the limited racetracks we race at. (Yes Panel members there are major costs in owning horses) And trainers cant get owners to stay in the business let alone re-invest in the business. 30 years ago we raced for purses of $2,500 but the cost to train a horse back then was around $900 a month. The costs to have a horse has more than tripled and the purses are back to that of the early 80's !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PANEL its very simple, go back to what worked and was agreed to by horsemen and government. We don't need you to fix something that was never broken. Do you not see and understand what lives and businesses you are destroying?

Sorry Darryl I got long winded with a response to your interview and forgot to acknowledge and thank you for your efforts. Unfortunately I don't think anything will change for us in the racing industry until the Liberals are out of power and the Panel members go back to their original fields of expertise.

You can be sure that anything done in collaboration with the OLG will be something that they have come up with that will benefit the OLG and not necessarily be a benefit to horse people. The only solution is to go back to the slots program like before and make necessary modifications as needed period.

I listened to this interview with great interest. All the right questions were asked but I have problems with this whole process. Ms Wynne talks about the dialogue required and investigations that must take place to get this new program in place. I really think much of the damage is already done, why weren't these investigations put in place before they cancelled the program? Most companies have a plan in place when they make major policy changes. This did not happen and now they want to appear as saviours to our industry. Two years have passed, many jobs have been lost, many horses have disappeared and we continue to wait!!!!!

You still haven't addressed how you can justify saying racing will be sustainable in "Ontario" when you have crippled horse people outside of the chosen 8 tracks in S. Ontario.

Great questions posed by you Darryl, but still a lot of vague answers. Ms. Wynne is emphasizing that the Province is "giving" the horse racing industry $400m over 5 yrs. split amongst the three breeds but fails to recognize that we got $362m in one yr. and still made the Province $1.2 billion/yr. How does she expect to instill confidence in the industry with those numbers not to mention the fact that racing dates were also cut in half? Finally, since when did Snobolen and Buchanan become "experts" in our industry?

Let me say this...... the only way that horse racing will survive in Ontario is through a revenue sharing agreement similar to the same business model that we previously had but with some modifications. As a breeder and an investor and given these circumstances, the prospects of getting a return on investment looks very bleak in Ontario.

She says all the right things: I hear your concerns, I understand them and am working to help you. She sounds earnest, but either fails to understand or won't admit to the suffering horse people are going through. She also does not understand that the industry does not want a handout from tax payers. A revenue stream tied to gambling, which horse racing is also a product of, makes more sense. Either way, the industry must move forward to reinvent itself if we hope to survive.

Great job by Darryl. Questions were well stated and as we all would have asked.
The answers were the same as we has heard for over a year now. No actual facts more political BS. Again Darryl Thanks!

Great questions Darryl !! You kept pushing for the answers we need to hear. Although her answers were vague, Ms Wynne is saying the right things. I have always felt that she is supportive of horse people and our industry. She has made it clear that she is relying on 'experts' for advice so dialogue between the panel and the industry continues to be of utmost importance.

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