Rick Karper, former president of the Association Trot et Amble du Quebec (ATAQ), has penned an open letter to Attractions Hippiques owner Paul Massicotte
. In the letter, Karper explains why as a horse owner he cannot accept the bailout proposal for Attractions Hippiques which is currently on the table.
In addition to sending the letter to Massicotte, Karper also copied Monique Jerome-Forget (Minister of Finance), Jean Charest (Prime Minister), Florent Gagné (SONACC), Michel St-Louis (ATAQ), Chantale Courcy (CPMA) and Yves Vincent (Monitor).
The letter appears below in its entirety.
Owner, Attractions Hippiques (Montreal) S.E.C.
7440 boulevard Decarie
February 13, 2009
As you know, I was actively involved in welcoming Attractions Hippiques to the scene in 2006 as the then President of ATAQ and I worked with you for the betterment of harness racing in Montreal and the success of Attractions Hippiques.
I watched every minute of the Parliamentary Commission this past summer and in recent weeks, I have sat through several days of testimony in the Quebec Superior court and attended the meeting of interested parties at the Hippodrome de Montréal which you called.
My interest is to see that racing flourishes in Montreal. After listening to all the testimony and presentations, I have come to the conclusion that the Monitor’s proposal does not come close to meeting this goal and I have decided to take a public stand.
I understand your position. As a businessman, you are trying to avoid failure and hoping to save your company. I am truly sorry for the turn of events, however, as a horse owner and major harness racing fan in Montreal, I cannot accept the proposal on the table, which excludes any live racing in the Montreal area, even if it is blessed by the Minister of Finance.
At the moment, there isn’t any contract between Attractions Hippiques (Montreal) and any CPMA recognized horsemen’s group and you shouldn’t be operating pari-mutuel operations in the Montreal assigned territory. Also, because you haven’t respected the SONACC contract, your right to benefit from the operation of VLTs in Montreal should be terminated.
NO LIVE RACING – NO PARIMUTUEL BETTING!
The villain in this situation has to be the Liberal government. The stated goal of the government in August 2005 when they released the 'appel de propositions' for the takeover of the racetracks and OTBs operated by SONACC was to “revive and develop the horse racing industry in Quebec”. At the time, there was very little consultation between the government and the racing associations. Further negotiations with the bidders and ultimate winner were confidential. We, the horsemen, found out some, but not all of the details through the back door. Now that the deal between Attractions Hippiques and the government (SONACC, Loto-Quebec) has fallen apart, the government has, once again, chosen to resolve the situation without the input of the horsemen. Something’s rotten in the state of Quebec. Doesn’t the government know or care how much the victims are suffering?
We were promised a racetrack in the Montreal area and a share of the profit from 1,300 VLTs. That’s what we want. No more. No less.
Monique Jerome-Forget, Minister of Finance
Jean Charest, Prime Minister
Florent Gagné, SONACC
Michel St-Louis, ATAQ
Chantale Courcy, CPMA
Yves Vincent, Monitor