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Liberal MPP Stands Up For Racing

Published: April 18, 2012 3:05 pm ET

Last Comment: April 19, 2012 7:07 pm ET | 15 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Tuesday, April 17 in Toronto's Queen's Park Legislature, Liberal MPP Kim Craitor (Niagara Falls) stood up for both his convictions and those of many of his constituents when he read petitions into record in support of Ontario's horse-racing industry, a bold move in direct opposition to the political stance of his party.

As explained in an article by Bullet News Niagara, Craitor could have simply given the petitions to a legislative clerk, but he chose to stand and read the position into record, a move which overtly showed his support for the measure.

“I’m doing what I can,” Craitor was quoted as saying Tuesday night. “I’m not giving up hope.”

The petitions, which contained roughly 3,200 signatures, were collected during a recent Queen's Park rally in support of the Ontario horse-racing industry. Craitor read the petitions into record, as promised, to a solid round of applause from opposition MPPs in attendance.

The Fort Erie Race Track falls within Craitor's riding, and the historic thoroughbred raceway is just one of the provincial racetracks which would be decimated by the reigning Ontario Liberal Party's ignorant and economically illogical decision to step away from the mutually beneficial slots-at-racetracks agreement.

The Bullet News Niagara article also explains that Craitor has backed a proposal by the Town of Fort Erie and the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium to take over operation of the raceway slots parlour and to run it as a not-for-profit corporation. Craitor has also been lobbying his own government to consider the proposal.

(With files from Bullet News Niagara)

April 19, 2012 - 7:07 pmInstead of kissing the Ndp's

jim rigg SAID...

Instead of kissing the Ndp's backside I think we should advertise for an investor who we can really trust and who would commit to a long term contract to enable us to continue. I have contacted the Vice-President Investments Mr. Neil Petroff of OTPP and I am sure that we would be able to strike a deal with them or another group if in fact the figures of $350 Million and $1.1 Billion are correct.

April 19, 2012 - 5:18 pmThis is a copy of Kim

This is a copy of Kim Craitor's petition that he read in the Legislature.

Mr. Kim Craitor:

I’m pleased to introduce this petition, and I want to thank the mayor of Fort Erie, Doug Martin, for presenting this petition to me the day of the rally in front of Queen’s Park.

The petition reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario horse racing and breeding industry generates $2 billion of economic activity, mostly in rural Ontario;

“Whereas more than 60,000 Ontarians are employed by Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry;

“Whereas 20% of the funds generated by the OLG slots-at-racetracks program is reinvested in racetracks and the horse racing and breeding industry, while 75% is returned to the government of Ontario;

“Whereas the OLG slots-at-racetracks program generates $1.1 billion a year for health care and other spending, making it the most profitable form of gaming in the province for OLG;

“Whereas the government has announced plans to cancel the slots-at-racetracks program, a decision that will cost the government $1.1 billion per year and threatens more than 60,000 jobs;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Call on the government of Ontario to protect the $1.1 billion of revenue the government received annually because of the OLG slots-at-racetracks program; direct OLG to honour the contracts with racetracks and protect the horse racing and breeding industry by continuing the OLG slots-at-racetracks revenue-sharing program.”

I’m pleased to sign my name to this petition.

Gary Blackburn

April 19, 2012 - 1:09 pmMs. Armstrong needs to be

Lynne Magee SAID...

Ms. Armstrong needs to be reminded that no one can believe that what the Liberals promised will come to fruition. Huron-Bruce was promised millions of dollars for hospital expansions and renovations just before the last election. Guess what? Projects that were already in the works at Wingham and Kincardine hospitals (and local money spent) have been cancelled by the government whose funding was not even going to kick in until 2015 and 2017.
We have heard about MGM having connections to China, mobs, etc. If true, is that what we need to add to our cities?
Mr. Duncan and Mr. McGuinty have repeatedly stated that they will choose education, healthcare, care for seniors, daycare spaces, road repair, etc. over horse racing. At what cost? Getting into bed with the devil? Selling 60,000 jobs lost for 10,000 gained? Giving up a sure 1.1 billion dollars a year? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, Mr. Duncan.
In my opinion, this has all been in the works for a long time. The big shots from the States saw an opportunity but only if the racetrack slots were closed and not in competition with their product. Closing Ontario Place and leaving it empty set up a perfect chance for them to move in. The Liberals are acting as their promotional agency selling the people of Ontario stories of glamour, shopping, hotels, etc. Do we really need more of that when many hotels, shops, restaurants in Toronto are already having a hard time attracting business? Ontario Place, as a family venue, was a much needed breath of fresh air in Toronto. The government has, step-by-step, moved this plan along behind closed doors. No wonder none of them have answered our calls, e-mails, letters.
Do they really think that the people who play the slots at Clinton, Hanover, Elora, etc. are going to travel to the city every couple of days? Not bloody likely. It's hard enough to live anywhere near Toronto with the expense, travel, parking and so on so I don't think they can rely on the locals to support a casino. As for visitors, I'm one of those and I wouldn't go anywhere near a casino in Toronto or anywhere else. I can't think any of my family, friends, business associates or acquaintances that would either. I do, however, know a lot of local people that regularly attend their local slot parlour---easy to get to, parking is free, they know everyone there, 5% of the revenue goes into local projects. As usual, the government can't see the forest for the trees. They are trying to sell our province to the highest bidder without permission from the citizens. It is time to boot them out and let the other parties know that this devious and unscrupulous behaviour will not be tolerated by any of them!

April 19, 2012 - 10:31 amJamie Higgs If the NDP

Jamie Higgs SAID...

Jamie Higgs

If the NDP decide to jump in bed with the Liberals the blood will be on their hands as well. We must remember down the road who is responsible for this debacle and punish them at the next election.

April 19, 2012 - 9:49 amI have been active in party

Bill Harris SAID...

I have been active in party politics for many years both as a board member of my local NDP riding assoc and a vice-president of my local Liberal assoc. I left the Liberals and joined the NDP's after feeling I needed to go home and scrub the the stink off after each of our regular meetings. I quit the Lib's and joined the NDP and, for a while, it felt like a breath of fresh air. However, the longer I was there the more it became the same old thing.

As a little background - my father owned and trained horses, (reasonably successful in a non-slots era) and I've owned and trained several myself (not quite as successfully).

I have been watching avidly the goings on since the severing of the slots at racetrack agreement was announced. The publicity and attention given this is a testiment to the hard work and tenacity of the horseracing community and should be lauded. However, I read in the London Free Press this morning an article stating my MPP Theresa Armstrong is fearful of an election at this time because it may danger the $80 million job fund for Southwestern Ontario promised last year by the Liberals. This is an NDP MPP defending a Liberal plan. "alot of thing will be out the window" should an election be called. You see, the NDP and Liberal parties are not that far apart in their platforms and it would be a great surprise to me if an election was actually called. I predict the NDP with crawl into bed with the Liberals and to hell with horseracing. I hope I'm wrong but as you could see from my opening paragragh, I don't feel all that confident in any MPP no matter their politcal stripe.

April 18, 2012 - 10:55 pmTo quote Mr Craitor "I am

Roy Steele SAID...

To quote Mr Craitor "I am doing what I can". I do hope that includes voting against his own party on the budget vote. He CAN do that and that will have enormous admiration from all under threat.

Its one thing to read a petition out. To vote against your party is the real decision to be made. I hope you make the right decision for your riding and our industry on a whole.

April 18, 2012 - 10:48 pmMr Craitor showed a lot of

Cecil Cook SAID...

Mr Craitor showed a lot of courage in standing up for his constituents today. I hope some of you will invite him to the backstretch to shake a few hands and maybe pet a horse or two. He seems like a genuine guy, someone worth knowing.

April 18, 2012 - 10:29 pmDon't be fooled by this.

Don't be fooled by this. Unless he intends to vote against the budget then this exercise with the petitions will fail.

April 18, 2012 - 8:47 pmI have one question. Will

I have one question. Will Mr Craitor vote against the budget? That's it

April 18, 2012 - 6:10 pmThank you Mr. Craitor. Your

Bobbi Morley SAID...

Thank you Mr. Craitor. Your courage is admirable and much appreciated. I have written to the leaders of all three parties, as well as Mr. Duncan, and several MPPs, and NOT ONE Liberal member has responded. Not one. They tell us how they are standing for the people of Ontario; well, I'm a people, my friends are people, and I don't see where any Liberal other than Mr. Craitor is looking out for my interests, or those of my fellow Ontarians.

In contrast, there have been responses from several members of both of the other parties, the ones who really represent the regular people of Ontario, they would be the people who don't live in Ottawa or Toronto, by the way.

It appears that the decisions regarding racing and casinos have been made secretly, and are so far advanced that there are already American interests interested in taking over. Who will benefit indirectly from those negotiations?

We must keep phoning, e-mailing, sending petitions,rallying, whatever it takes.

April 18, 2012 - 6:01 pmI sent this email to MPP

I sent this email to MPP Craitor this afternoon.

Dear Mr. Craitor

Thank you so much for choosing to stand up for horse racing in Ontario! Each and every one of us in the industry appreciate the courage and conviction it took for you to stand in support of our industry in direct opposition to your party and Premier McGuinty. I hope you can convince the many more Liberal MPPs who privately support our cause to speak their minds as well (including the honourable Ted McMeekin). There are so many good reasons to support the slots at racetrack program. Thank you again.

Kathy McBride
Standardbred Trainer and Owner
Almonte, Ontario

April 18, 2012 - 4:02 pmWOW that is nice to see one

Dan Davis SAID...

WOW that is nice to see one of the Liberal MPP's on our side. That has to be an eye opener for the Liberals.
I agree with Gary and is a shame that Ted McMeeken isn't also supporting us knowing full well what it is going to do to Agriculture in Ontario. Perhaps he should resign.
To be honest I thought the Liberals would have changed their tune on the whole deal or at least some sort of compromise.

April 18, 2012 - 3:50 pmBravo, Mr. Craitor! It

Lynne Magee SAID...

Bravo, Mr. Craitor! It takes an honest and decent person to stand up and oppose his own party---a person who acts responsibly towards his constituents who placed enough trust in him to vote him into government. Hopefully, there will be more Liberal MPPs like Mr. Craitor who actually give a damn about rural Ontario, the agricultural economy, the 60,000 jobs, the people connected to the racing industry both directly and indirectly, the 1.1 billion from slots revenue that goes back into the economy (health, education, daycare, senior care, roads, etc.) and finally, the 30,000 plus horses that will be sent to slaughter when they no longer have reason for being. It is very brave of Mr. Craitor to stand up to Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Duncan. I wish him well and thank him a hundred times over. He is has set an example for others to follow if they truly have the welfare of the entire province and not just the city of Toronto at heart.

April 18, 2012 - 3:39 pmFinally somebody in the

Finally somebody in the Liberal party speaking up for horse racing. I'm sure there are more of them that know what there party is doing is wrong and they also need to speak up and send a message to mcguinty and Duncan. Maybe they will start to listen if there own mp's turn on them because obviously they are not willing to listen to anyone else.

April 18, 2012 - 3:22 pmI can only hope he crosses

I can only hope he crosses the party line. I couldn't imagine a decent human being who is an MPP and who knows this is wrong, could look himself in the mirror, especially in a riding where the people believed in him enough to vote him into office.

Too bad that Ted McMeeken the Minister of Agriculture whose riding is where Flamboro Downs is, didn't have the gall to speak against this as well. Last time I checked this is a business that does business with many people in the Agriculture field and for him to sit on his perch as the Agricultural Minister is a disgrace.

Gary Blackburn

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