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Tropea On Amendments To Acts

Published: December 4, 2015 2:39 pm ET

Last Comment: December 4, 2015 3:20 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Trot Insider has learned that on Wednesday, December 2, Ontario Harness Horse Association General Manager Brian Tropea made a presentation to Ontario’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

As part of Tropea’s presentation, he submitted some amendments to the Ontario Lottery Gaming and Corporation Act, 1999, and the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015. The pair of Acts are key pieces of Legislation for the future of Ontario’s racing and gaming industry, and are part of the robust Bill 144, more commonly known as the Budget Measures Act, 2015, that Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa introduced in the legislature on Wednesday, November 18.

Bill 144, the Budget Measures Act, 2015, is an Act to implement budget measures and to enact or amend certain other statutes. Tropea explained to Trot Insider that OHHA lawyers reviewed the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 (listed as Schedule 9 in the bill) and the Ontario Lottery Gaming and Corporation Act, 1999 (Schedule 16) and identified potential problems within the Acts. Those potential problems were addressed via the amendments that Tropea submitted to the Committee on December 3.

Tropea told Trot Insider that he hopes that the amendment he submitted will be debated on Monday, December 7 when the Committee is scheduled to go through the bills clause by clause. Tropea is hoping that some of the current language in the Acts will be modified.

Tropea told Trot Insider that there weren’t too many amendments – roughly nine – but that changes to important wording in the Acts would make him more comfortable with the Acts going forward. Tropea told Trot Insider that he is hoping that the members of the Committee have listened.

He pointed out that he submitted three key amendments in his presentation – two of which were to the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015. The other pertained to the Ontario Lottery Gaming and Corporation Act, 1999.

“The Horse Racing Licence Act has a clause in there that says that any decision by the panel would be binding and not subject to appeal, so that’s worrisome,” Tropea said. “I think that under the Statutory Procedures Act any person has the right to appeal a decision by a judicial body, so that’s one issue that we brought up.

“Another issue is that under their penalties they have a maximum penalty guideline of a $50,000 fine and up to a one-year imprisonment, so that, obviously, raises some concerns.”

In regard to his amendment to the Ontario Lottery Gaming and Corporation Act, 1999, Tropea explained that the wording pertaining to the grant is very important. “On the OLG Act, it’s basically wording around the grant – it being a grant – that the Minister ‘may’ enter into with racetrack owners and racetrack operators,” Tropea said.

“Our concern – after having listened for three years that there is going to be ‘integration’ (horse racing integrated with the OLG’s gaming modernization process) – is that they (the Government) shouldn’t have a concern with switching the word ‘may’ to ‘shall.’”

Tropea pointed out another issue with some of the wording in the Ontario Lottery Gaming and Corporation Act, 1999. “Under the current language in the bill, they could essentially have a grant agreement with one racetrack and satisfy that, so we have asked for (the wording in the bill) to be amended to include all racetracks – that if the government enters into a grant program with racetracks, it should include all racetrack owners. And we have asked them (the Government) to give consideration to have an agreement with horsepeople as well as racetrack operators because we (horsepeople) should be identified as a partner in this whole process.”

In his discussion with Trot Insider, Tropea outlined a few other notable amendments.

“Section 12.3 of the Horse Racing Licence Act says that ‘an applicant shall pay the reasonable cost of the inquiries or investigation or provide security to the registrar in a form acceptable to the registrar for the payment,’ So, that same reading says that if they do a due diligence investigation on a licensee or if they do an investigation for a breach of rules that the applicant would then be responsible for the cost of any investigation, so, obviously, we don’t support that.

“Section 35 says that ‘no person engaged in the administration of this Act shall be required to give testimony in any civil proceeding with regard to information obtained by the person in the course of the person’s duties except in a proceeding under this Act.’ So, basically, it says that – regardless of whether it is lawful or not – an investigator would not be compelled to give evidence at a court case.”

Tropea couldn’t give any solid timeline in regard to the Budget Measures Act, 2015 beyond Monday’s clause-by-clause consideration, but he did say that he believed that there is an appetite by the Government to get the bill dealt with sooner than later.

“My gut (feeling) is that after they go clause by clause, then it (the bill) will go to the House for third and final reading fairly quickly,” said Tropea.

“If the plan is to implement this stuff on April 1… and the House doesn’t come back until late January, maybe even February, so I can understand why they are trying to rush it through and get everything in place.”

Additionally, Tropea updated Trot Insider on the proposal to have one unified horsemen’s group in Ontario.

“We did a lot of work on it,” he said. “We met for probably two years on it, and the government provided resources, facilitators and government experts. We actually put out a request for people to put their names forward to be directors of a new association, but then for some reason the racing commission was directed to not continue the process.

“OHHA strongly supported the concept, and we have been working hard to get it done. As a matter of fact, once the ORC told us that they were no longer going to continue that process, we wrote a letter to the Minister and asked him to direct the racing commission to continue the work that had been done already, and we got a response back that essentially didn’t say anything about the horsemen’s association, it just said how hard they are working to have a sustainable horse racing industry. So, OHHA is very supportive of a process that would amalgamate or bring the horsepeople back together under one voice.”

December 4, 2015 - 3:20 pmFinally, someone that is

Dave Snowden SAID...

Finally, someone that is actually looking out for the horsemen(women)!!

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