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OHRIA Issues Open Letter To Premier McGuinty On Foreign Investment

Published: May 11, 2012 4:24 pm ET

Last Comment: May 14, 2012 9:42 am ET | 27 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The letter below was sent on Friday (May 11) afternoon from Sue Leslie, President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association to the Premier of Ontario responding to a series of inaccurate comments Minister Duncan made about horse racing, while attacking a significant foreign investor.

Dear Premier,

It causes great concern to the Ontario racing and breeding industry that Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance for the Province of Ontario, has chosen to engage a major investor in our industry in a public mud-slinging match. Mr. Duncan’s comments are rife with innuendo and inaccurate information. On behalf of our industry, we would like to clarify the facts that were not included in Minister Duncan’s public response to Mr. Thomson.

To Minister Duncan’s comments that “Mr. Thomson is a “wealthy U.S. investor” who has profited handsomely from the program funded by Ontario taxpayers”, there is a key inaccuracy in this statement. The “program” to which Mr. Duncan referred has not received one cent of funding from Ontario taxpayers. It is funded from three sources: a percentage of the commissions earned on wagering on horse racing inOntario, from a portion of commissions earned from slots gambling at Ontario racetracks, and from fees paid by breeders, stallion owners and horsemen active in racing in Ontario. It is NOT funded byOntario taxpayers.

To Mr. Duncan’s description of Mr. Thomson as a “ … 'wealthy U.S. investor' (his highlights) who has profited from the program”, we vehemently object to the implied negative connotations in Minister Duncan’s comments. Our industry values its investors – all of its investors. Like many other industries in Ontario, horse racing and breeding in Ontario benefits significantly from international investment. We believe that such investment enriches the province, and helps build the Ontario economy. We have grave concerns that Mr. Duncan does not share this same appreciation.

The very nature of Mr. Thomson’s investment means that he must keep stallions and mares in Ontario and produce foals for racing in Ontario. This means jobs, expenditures and taxes for Ontario to fund schools and hospitals.

Mr. Duncan’s comments that “History is littered with businesses that failed to address changes to the economy and technology” implies that our industry is in that category. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Significant investment in Ontario has created a world-class horse racing industry that is supported by the most advanced technology available for broadcast media, Internet gambling, and state of the art E-commerce platforms. To be able to securely place a wager on live horse-racing in real time – something we do every day, on every race – requires nothing less than the most sophisticated technology infrastructure. Our industry has developed, and uses technology comparable to the requirements of the Canadian banking sector.

To Mr. Duncan’s statement that the Government of Ontario is “ending a program that took money that should go to Ontario schools and hospitals and gave it to, among others, wealthy people like Mr. Thomson …” well this comment is both inaccurate and offensive.

The Slots at Racetracks program contributes $1 billion dollars each year to the costs of schools and hospitals in Ontario – money that would otherwise need to come directly from taxpayer funds. The program also ensures that more than 60,000 people in the Ontario industry have jobs and can pay their fair share of taxes to fund schools and hospitals for their families.

We would like to say to Mr. Thomson, “Please be assured that Mr. Duncan’s comments to you are not shared by the Ontario racing and breeding industry. On behalf of the industry, we would like to thank you and your fellow international investors that have recognized the value of investing in Ontario. We hope to be able to continue to deliver Value-4-Money, and a potential return on your investment in Ontario. “

Mr. Duncan does not speak for our industry. The Ontario horse racing and breeding industry is Open For Business!


May 14, 2012 - 9:42 ami am from windsor and mr .

cliff adcock SAID...

i am from windsor and mr . duncan office just down thr street fro me here and do not personaly know him but i think that he might jump in in river to get out of the rain==

May 13, 2012 - 8:28 pmYour right on - Bobbi

Randy Young SAID...

Your right on - Bobbi Morley. Mr. Duncan has made himself look like a fool. The Conservatives and NDP should be outraged and his cohorts in the Liberal party should be totally embarassed !

May 13, 2012 - 2:53 pmSince its inception Windsor

Norm Brunet SAID...

Since its inception Windsor always had U.S horses racing there due to it's close proximity to the U.S, even before the slots at racetrack program. Just like Ontario horses race in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York...Europe. The handle at Windsor is also proportionnately influenced by U.S $. It's always been and hopefully will always be. We had an Ontario bred,owned,trained and driven horse win a stake race last night in New Jersey (Mr Herbie) with a substantial purse (210K).

Mr. Duncan responded several weeks back in the legislature, while questioned on the race industry decision that "How long are Ontario taxe payers going to subsidize the INTERNATIONAL race industry."

My point is that Duncan's irresponsible and un-educated comments are not only making life difficult for the industry in Ontario presently but could have grave consequences in the future for all of us.
You can reason with ignorance because it is just a matter of education, however Mr. Duncan's had plenty of time to educate himself on the race industry. So the question is " What is the hidden agenda behind this ?"

May 13, 2012 - 2:03 pmI saw that Great Canadian

I saw that Great Canadian Gaming took a 57 million impairment writedown due to the cancellation of the slots at racetracks program. Godfrey and Duncan will not be able to dismiss this as a wealthy American corporation as it is a Canadian company.The recent actions of Paul Godfrey unfortunately question if he is thinking clearly,this is a very important matter as the OLG is not a corner store,and thousands of jobs are affected by his actions

May 12, 2012 - 7:33 pmRacing in Ontario was the

Tim Dean SAID...

Racing in Ontario was the best and I believe thoughs days will be stay in this industry you need to follow the $$$$$ as did the American and Quebec's just our turn Hello.... New York ...New Jersey.. Pennsylvania

May 12, 2012 - 5:17 pmPaul Godfrey is quoted in

Ian Dow SAID...

Paul Godfrey is quoted in yesterdays paper saying "The OLG will not wait for Toronto city council to make up it's mind if it wants a casino, we will put it in Mississauga".
I don't recall Godfrey being ELECTED to any position where he can dictate public policy, he's just another Liberal party hack with his snout firmly planted in the public trough!

May 12, 2012 - 12:47 pmIt is a great letter,but I

Dan Campbell SAID...

It is a great letter,but I wonder why nobody from the Ontario Racing Commission has not joined our fight for our future.When your 60 and you know nothing but horses its is a very scary thing.

May 12, 2012 - 12:23 pmHopefully, Mr. Thomson's

Lynne Magee SAID...

Hopefully, Mr. Thomson's letter was also sent to the newspapers along with Mr. Duncan's imbecilic retort. There are several writers in all of the national papers that have following the progession of the state of racing who will likely want to pick this up and run with it.

May 12, 2012 - 11:31 amP.Garofalo Harness Racing

Harness Racing Canada Inc

I have just forwarded the letter to Rob Longley and his editor to try and get it in their paper. I would suggest that everyone forward the same to all the major papers in Toronto asking for it to be inserted. Mainstream media needs to get this incredible reply by Sue.

May 12, 2012 - 11:07 amWhat does Duncan think

Bobbi Morley SAID...

What does Duncan think happens to money that is invested in Ontario? Does it all just turn around and leave without having any effect while it's here? Money that goes into any business is taxed, wages are paid, then taxed, all the goods and services that are consumed by that money are taxed, and if the investor is lucky, he gets to make a little on top. The taxes then go to pay for education and health care, and sadly to scandals such as e-health, ORNGE, LHIN corporate goodies, Sunshine lists, etc. It is not an investors fault in any way, no matter where he comes from, if this government and it's ministers can not manage the finances they have. If it weren't for the foreign investments in this country, we would be in worse shape than we are.

It has become abundantly clear that this government is floundering in confusion and stupidity and must be removed immediately. How most of the Liberal party can sit there without having the decency to be outraged is even more of a condemnation of their ineptness.

May 12, 2012 - 10:32 amI have been watching the

I have been watching the progress of the issues relating to racing in Ontario with significant interest. I am sure other US based owners have as well. I love racing in Ontario. It is my first choice as I think it has the best overall program in NA. This past winter I informed Blue Chip that I intended to have Put On A Show breed to Bettors delight in Ont when she was done racing. She had not raced yet and we didnt know how she would come back. Now however, with the program in disaray and uncertainty, I have to rethink investing in ontario racing. The US owned sires will no doubt be pulled from Ontario. I feel quite confident there are many owners who feel the same way. Foreign investment will virtually disappear.

May 12, 2012 - 9:18 amSue Leslie's letter offers a

Chris Smith SAID...

Sue Leslie's letter offers a succinct and rationale response to Minister Duncan's outburst. The decision to end the Slots at Racetracks Program was made in a vacuum without any input from the numerous and varied stakeholders of the horse racing industy. This closed bridle approach resulted in a government decision which completely ignores the collateral damage created. Incredibly, the Finance Minister of Ontario is now openly and publicly critical of international investment on the province of Ontario. Comments such as these should be proof to even the most ardent Liberal supporter that the present govenment, McGuinty and Duncan in particular, are not capable of developing rational policy for the Province of Ontario. The PC's and NDP must combine their strength and demand the Slots at Racetracks decision be immediately reversed and that Mr. Godfrey be removed as Chair of the OLG.

May 12, 2012 - 7:49 amI was informed by Sue Leslie

Jeff Porchak SAID...

I was informed by Sue Leslie that the letter sent to the Premier from OHRIA was sent to all MPP’s in Ontario, the leaders of all three parties, the OLG and all media and major newspapers.

May 11, 2012 - 9:34 pmGreat letter Now lets get

Great letter
Now lets get those letters printed in all the papers for all of Ontario to read. If we spend some money on advertising where the tax payers of Ontario will read it, then maybe they will start yelling, maybe we can force an election. We need people other than us to read this.

May 11, 2012 - 8:33 pmExcellent Letter! Please

David Aziz SAID...

Excellent Letter!
Please ensure that this letter will go right onto the desks of Duncan, Godfrey, Mc guinty, Hudak et al, and not just to their press secretaries. Please request a confirmation and we hope for a response. I also suggest that a copy (and Duncans original thoughts) be run as a paid ad in several dailies. A third of a page cannot be that costly given what is at stake! Most members of the sports media are not yet up to speed either; keep them on our side!!

May 11, 2012 - 8:11 pmBy now, Dalton McGuinty and

Rick Karper SAID...

By now, Dalton McGuinty and Dwight Duncan must realize that their drastic action is causing much distress in the horse racing and breeding industries. Certainly, they had to be unaware of the consequences when they ended the "slots at racetracks" program with one year's notice. Breeders were affected immediately and the racing industry will feel the direct effect next year.

The investments by all participants is based on a possible return over several years, which under the current proposal will be drastically cut.

More reasonable options by the government of the people and for the people would have been to modify the existing program by lowering the monies paid into the purse fund, or at least announce a four or five year status quo period so that participants could make longer term plans.

May 11, 2012 - 7:23 pmThis is a great letter, and

Cam McKnight SAID...

This is a great letter, and a fitting response to Mr. Duncan's foolish comments.

I hope this letter makes its way to the mainstream media. It would offer further proof of how out of touch Mr. Duncan is with reality.

OHRIA may also want to make mention of the fact that Caesar's Windsor offered its patrons free slot money if they ventured out of Ontario and tried the new Caesar's operation in Cleveland.

Gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing how well Caesar's (or MGM, Harrah's, etc) will treat Toronto (and Ontario) if they become the government's casino gurus.

May 11, 2012 - 7:09 pmSuch a great response letter

Terry DeVos SAID...

Such a great response letter OHRIA! Our local MPP has contacted us and he is writing a column for our local newspaper. We should Thank Mr. Duncan for his reponse letter to Mr. Thomson, because that single letter has put a fire into each one of us to keep fighting for this industry and right the wrongs that have been spewed by these incompetent people.

May 11, 2012 - 6:48 pmMr. Duncan's comments are

Mr. Duncan's comments are unbelievable! OHRIA's open letter should indeed be published in the newspaper and read by an opposition member in the Ontario legislature!

May 11, 2012 - 6:12 pmA fine letter Sue. This

karen pappin SAID...

A fine letter Sue.
This could be the turning point to shine the light on what is really going on. This letter needs to be a large 1 page add in the Globe, Star and Post. Spend the money to rout out these incompetant people and show the rest of Ontario what the real truth is.
It is apparent that Duncan, McGuinty and Godfrey are willing cohorts with "international Casino Investments" in exchange for international investments in an industry that grows jobs, supports agri business, veterinarian and related services and has been an historic tradition in Ontario.

May 11, 2012 - 6:09 pmFirstly, I would like to

Tom Knight SAID...

Firstly, I would like to thank Sue Leslie for her succinct letter, addressing the inacuracies that have been spewed forth by Dwight Duncan. Clearly he hasn`t taken the time to educate himself on any aspect of the horse industry.
While reading Mr. Thomson`s comments and then Mr. Duncan`s comments it became obvious that Mr. Thomson sounded like a University Scholar in comparison to Mr. Duncan`s ``stuck in kindergarten`` responses.
In the horse racing industry, money is earned solely by performance. If Dalton McGuinty and Dwight Duncan were paid based on performance, their checks should be $0.

May 11, 2012 - 5:48 pmBased on the comments of

Carolyn Rae SAID...

Based on the comments of Dwight Duncan, his ludicrous lying inuendo, and insults aimed at one of Ontario's major investors, in a time Ontario so desperately needs to attract foreign investment, THE OPPOSITION PARTIES SHOULD BE DEMANDING HIS RESIGNATION!!!

If Mr. McGuinty is not man enough to formerly apologize to Mr. Thomson, for his Finance Minister's insults, then he too has just shown his true colours as far as foreign investment is concerned in our Province!

May 11, 2012 - 5:35 pmIgnorance is defined by a

Norm Brunet SAID...

Ignorance is defined by a lack of knowledge, stupidity is the inability to acquire knowledge...guess where I'm going with this one.

May 11, 2012 - 5:28 pmTo say that Mr. Duncan in an

Lynne Magee SAID...

To say that Mr. Duncan in an embarrassment to Ontario is an understatement. He should be removed from his position immediately. Such nonsense from a Minister of Finance is intolerable and it has gone on for way too long. Where else in business would such ignorance, incompetence and plain old deception be allowed without repercussion? No wonder our province is in the state it is in.

May 11, 2012 - 5:11 pmThis letter needs to be sent

max cordon SAID...

This letter needs to be sent to every newspaper in Ontario. Let's just see which ones will actually publish it? Will they dare? The letter also needs to be read in parliment because Mr Duncan should be removed from his post. His statements were ludicrous for a person in his position. Lynn & Max

May 11, 2012 - 5:06 pmBravo OHRIA - well said! I

Bravo OHRIA - well said! I would encourage everyone to continue to fill the inbox of all MPPs on the Slots-racetracks issue. We have to keep the pressure on, support BillC76 and stop Duncan and Godfrey from pursuing a shiny new megacasino on Toronto waterfront in lieu of 60,000 jobs and an AMAZING INDUSTRY!

May 11, 2012 - 5:02 pmDalton McGuinty and Dwight

Dalton McGuinty and Dwight Duncan are an embarrassment to the people of Ontario. It is definitely time for these incompetent people to go. Well said Sue, and clearly explained. Everyone in Madoc I have talked to state that the Liberals in Ontario are out. sincerely Bruce T. Winning

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