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OHHA's Hardy On Liberal Strategy

Published: March 18, 2013 8:08 pm ET

Last Comment: March 19, 2013 5:17 pm ET | 10 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Monday, March 18, the Ontario Harness Horse Association issued an open letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. In the letter, OHHA states that both the Ontario New Democratic Party and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party have put forth logical plans for the preservation of the provincial horse racing industry, while the Ontario Liberals have not.

"The folks I represent are hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people," OHHA president Ken Hardy was quoted as saying in the release. "We never ask for a handout, but we expect fairness. In our world a handshake is a covenant. We had more than that. We had a signed deal.”

The contents of the OHHA open letter appear below.

With two weeks to go before the end of the SARP (Slots-at-Racetracks Program) the Ontario Harness Horse Association has some sound advice for new Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“The current piecemeal strategy, as applied by the Liberal Party, is devastating” says association President Ken Hardy. “Rural Ontario and the thousands of rural Ontarians who rely on this industry deserve better.”

While Wynne, on the advice of her political transition committee, has offered a scaled- down model ignoring rural Ontario, Hardy is making a last-ditch effort to prevent the total destruction of an industry that pumps billions of dollars into the economy and provides quality long-term jobs to thousands.

Hardy notes: “This is a government that, according to experts, threw away close to a billion dollars on the power plant election scandal. The good people of rural Ontario should not have to pay for that boondoggle. The folks I represent are hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people. We never ask for a handout, but we expect fairness. In our world a handshake is a covenant. We had more than that. We had a signed deal.”

Last year, the McGuinty government and former Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan, suddenly signalled an end to the successful SARP throwing a multi-billion dollar industry into chaos.

Ken Hardy observes: “Rural Ontario will never forget that the Liberals bought votes in the last election with the money they are stealing from us. We will never forgive them.”

Recently both opposition parties have indicated their support for the horse-racing industry. The Ontario Progressive Conservative party released a white paper, Paths to Prosperity: Respect for Rural Ontario, which includes this recommendation: “Horse racing must be a key component of Ontario’s gaming strategy. The government should cancel the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation plan to abandon racetrack slots and spend money on new casinos. Instead, we will build partnerships with the horse racing industry allowing it to thrive.”

The New Democratic Party recently announced that they would be tabling a motion calling for a hiatus to the current Liberal plan that discontinues the longstanding partnership forged between government and the horse-racing industry. The motion would require the government to maintain the Slots-at-Racetracks Program until a viable plan for the future of Ontario horseracing can be implemented.

“The NDP plan makes sense” states Hardy, “It gives us time to get our house in order, allows us to make the changes necessary for a viable industry and provides some certainty regarding the 2013 and 2014 racing seasons. I’m asking the Premier to bet on rural Ontario. You speak of respect. Respect us. We trusted you.”

March 31 will see the end of the SARP partnership, closing numerous rural tracks and throwing thousands out of work.

March 19, 2013 - 5:17 pmKeep at em Ken!!!!!!!!!

dave lewis SAID...

Keep at em Ken!!!!!!!!!

March 19, 2013 - 10:52 amWhat a total complete mess

Roy Steele SAID...

What a total complete mess this goverment has created. No race dates how many tracks with city councils like Windsor are getting behind the horesemen but no racing as yet in those areas. Everyone is starting from scratch in a industry that led the world. Now the revenue streams we are about to be force fed by the Govt contains historical racing. Works well in Kentucky but that is a state that has refused slots every step of the way and still has dry county's. We have gone full circle from leading the world in revenue sharing to following the abolishinist movement.Remember the fanfare when Ceasers Windsor installed one of only two in the world racing games, similar to historical racing was deemed to be taking up to much slot space has now gone. The cost of installation of this product alone makes u shake your head there are only so many horsegambling dollars and its a certain person who will play them. Will have a chance of working in areas with no slots i.e. Leamington people are not attending the track for live racing how do you get them to attend for historical racing Another well thought out program by the OLG and GOVT.

March 19, 2013 - 10:36 amJust listened to Norm Borg

Dave Nicol SAID...

Just listened to Norm Borg talking to John Snobelen about our future! Does anyone other than me feel betrayed by this whole process? I know many former breeders who have disposed of all or most of their breeding stock one way or another. This doesn*t bode well for the future of standardbred racing going forward! Having our race dates cut in half is more than a little concerning. I shudder to think of the unemployment forthcoming! I am well aware of the efforts ongoing by OHHA on our behalf, but there*s only so much they can accomplish with less membership now and decreasing members to come. This will also have a devestating affect on the benefits this organization have provided in the past. Unless the ruling party makes a 180 degree turn in their plans many of our friends and colleagues will be out of work, shortly if not already. I have been well served by this organization in the past and have nothing but the highest respect for anybody working tirelessly on our behalf. Thanks again Ken and colleagues!

March 19, 2013 - 9:55 amIf a new budget is in the

If a new budget is in the making BOTH THE NDP & PC'S should vote AGAINST IT..
never mind just trying to get one concession like car insurance rates...who
care about that, horsemen won't have to worry about that since they won't be trucking anywhere. There is a bigger problem for Ontarians and it is called AGRICULTURE. How are the rural voters going to pay for the ORNGE issue, the Gas
plant issues and the Hydro issues and the teachers issues, when rural agriculture
does not have a job, in fact those in Agriculture will be another issue...

March 19, 2013 - 12:34 amVery well said Ken, thankyou.

Karen Duck SAID...

Very well said Ken, thankyou.

March 18, 2013 - 10:33 pmOrganize a blockade.

Sheldon Rose SAID...

Organize a blockade.

March 18, 2013 - 10:14 pmMEET THE NEW BOSS. SAME AS


March 18, 2013 - 9:16 pmWell Said Ken and team OHHA -

Norm Walker SAID...

Well Said Ken and team OHHA - please remember niether the NDP or PC's have stated outright that they (if elected) would continue the SARP but I agree 100% that at this turn in the road they are our best bet.
For those who think they can live with the Liberal plan get ready for a knife in your back just look at the Mayors that feel betrayed by the surplus Millions being offered to the all mighty Toronto deal with the OLG and Kathleen Wynne says nothing as that would be to go against the OLG overall plan.

March 18, 2013 - 8:41 pmGood for you Ken. Words can't

Peggy Powell SAID...

Good for you Ken. Words can't describe how betrayed I feel by the very people who are suppose to have our best interest in mind, our own government. The only reason that I can see for me to ever vote again is to try to prevent a Liberal Majority Government. The powers that be will steamroll over any and everyone to get what they want. This is not what government was ment to be. They should listen to the people.

March 18, 2013 - 8:27 pmI have never got involved

I have never got involved with politics before but this election I will be volunteering for ABLE. Anyone But Liberal Elected.

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