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McMeekin: OMAFRA Panel Report Expected Wednesday

Published: August 19, 2012 10:50 am ET

Last Comment: August 22, 2012 9:01 pm ET | 11 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

While the industry holds its collective breath waiting for the findings of the OMAFRA panel, Minister of Agriculture Ted McMeekin will make an announcement early this week and expects the report to be released on Wednesday.

At his community BBQ on Thursday, McMeekin was questioned by horsemen in his riding. Marty Adler made the trek to try to get a few words with McMeekin, and while he wasn't able to question McMeekin directly, he did capture McMeekin's comments on video.

"I believe they'll be issuing an interim report next Wednesday, which I suspect will be of interest to all of you," stated McMeekin. "In all likelihood, I'll be issuing a statement before that but to be 100 per cent frank and completely transparent and open with you I have not yet seen the report so I'm reticent to comment on a report that I'm anticipating will be helpful without having seen it or read it."

McMeekin also noted that the report might not be ready by Wednesday but should be issued by the end of the week.

"In the meantime I've asked the panel to redouble their efforts and do the fiscals as this originally came out of Finance and the OLG - not out of Agriculture, I was the guy who set up the panel."

The panel is comprised of three former cabinet ministers -- Elmer Buchanan, John Snobelen and John Wilkinson, and according to the Ontario government was created to "work with the industry to help develop a vision for the future, provide recommendations to the government on how to allocate transition funding, and advise on the modernization of other industry revenue sources to assist the industry in becoming more self-sufficient." In June at the time of the announcement, the government was allocating up to $50 million over three years.

In that time, the panel has consulted with various groups and individuals. This past week, Liberal MPP Jeff Leal announced that he submitted a proposal that would keep a modified version of the slots-at-racetrack program in place.

On Thursday, a poll conducted by Abacus Data for Racing Future found that most Ontarians think the provincial government should rethink its decision to shut down the Slots at Racetracks program at Ontario's racetracks with 76 per cent of Ontarians in favour of reviewing the decision.

August 22, 2012 - 9:01 pmFirst of all, kudos to Marty

Adam Mauntah SAID...

First of all, kudos to Marty for his persistence in trying to get an answer from this government. I would not have been so charitable in referring to those guys who blocked Marty's efforts to speak to the Minister as "gentlemen". Second, I would be interested to know which "track owners" the panel spoke to, and what they had to say. The latest track owner to express his views publicly is Pat MacIsaac, who wrote to the Sudbury Star with his concerns about the decision of the City of Greater Sudbury to support a new casino at the expense of Sudbury Downs, as reported on the SC web site today.

I also find it rather convenient on the Minister's part that he came out and said that the release of the report would be delayed due to translation (at 5:37 of the video), and explained that in a rather long-winded way. A French version of the report should indeed be made available for the benefit of the many Francophones who are a part of this industry throughout the province, but the way the Minister explained the need for translation sounds like another example of this government fishing for excuses to put off, or avoid altogether, communicating with the people of this industry in an honest and respectful manner. Get the translators working around the clock and get this report out ASAP.

August 21, 2012 - 12:32 amMarty you deserve a medal for

Marty you deserve a medal for having to put up with the rude behaviour. I thought I was on a merry-go-round listening to Ted McMeekin speak. You must instill the fear of god in these politicians when they won't even meet with you to answer your questions! Keep up the good work we all appreciate your efforts.

August 19, 2012 - 7:38 pmFunny how one can talk so

ron gilbert SAID...

Funny how one can talk so long and say nothing....
But remember I'm innocent it was finance and the olg.
Talk about passing the buck.... Same old Ted

August 19, 2012 - 7:23 pmSomeone should tell Mr.

Someone should tell Mr. McMeekin that when talking to anyone, he should be looking directly at that person. (Unless he is hiding something.)

His body language says it all--look away and pray that the camera runs out of film.

For most of his so-called "interview" , he was talking to several males at the side of a new pick-up truck while he kept turning to some of the ladies behind him.
He was not talking to them (the ladies) ; his thrust was to the males and he would sneak a look every 27 seconds to the males to see how he was doing.

He mentioned the money that was being set up now for the horse people. $50 million could be used up by one breeding farm easily. So what do the regular horsemen do then ? They won't even see a sniff of it. $50 million divided by 60,000 people comes to $833.33.A great transition plan!!!

I still think that the horsemen will prevail, but why make them wait so long ? HORWATH ( NDP) had the chance to stop all this nonsense at Budget time, but didn't know how to carry the ball.

These people in Govt. don't measure up compared to past members that were elected. Where is Premier Leslie Frost when you need him???

August 19, 2012 - 7:04 pmThank you Marty for your

Paul Gangle SAID...

Thank you Marty for your efforts on behalf of all horse people and the racing industry. While Ag Minister Mcmeekin has indicated that he set up the panel to evaluate the SAR program, you are quite right in asking, what obligation does the gov't have to follow those recommendations and is this only another "smoke screen" to appease us temporarily??? My "gut" tells me that nothing will change unless there is a change in gov't. And only then, will we see a positive change or modification toward the SAR program. I sincerely hope that I am wrong.

August 19, 2012 - 6:54 pmDoesnt know what is in the

Roy Steele SAID...

Doesnt know what is in the report ......
He picked the panel and the format and its coming to him before release.
Cant go into details .....
I guess not if he set up the whole process and he doesnt know whats in it.
Then has the nerve to say there is no hidden forum from anybody .....
can you spell SNOW JOB then a kid with pimples gets in Marty's face .
Feel sorry for the OPP they rely on the agriculture sector for a lot of feed back in the crime world and they have to bodyguard the minister who is not quite sure what is going on. Again our tax dollars at work.

August 19, 2012 - 4:02 pmNice try Marty! Maybe being

Dave Nicol SAID...

Nice try Marty! Maybe being taught as children to be polite doesn*t work anymore. If the roles were reversed the minister? or one of his underlings would have been in your face! As horse people are we all warm and fuzzy listening to this drivel? I*m sure not. As a taxpayer I*m outraged, are they all a waste of taxpayer dollars? Each time I listen to one of these people in government I feel very ill! Imagine these are supposed to be our public servants! Who on earth hired them? Can we fire them for incompetence?

August 19, 2012 - 12:42 pmIf you want to see what the

If you want to see what the media think about the SAR program look up Sun Media. There they talk about the latest polls and the economic impact that cancellation of this money generating program. Bruce T. Winning

August 19, 2012 - 12:02 pmNo wonder this man is

No wonder this man is successful, he can talk for all that time and not say anything about the issue he is addressing. It was very painful to listen to him struggle with making sure he made no sense.

August 19, 2012 - 11:59 amGood try, Marty. Thank you

Lynne Magee SAID...

Good try, Marty. Thank you for your efforts. You are on the black list so all you can do is try. Not much was said that we didn't already know. Now we wait for the report. Even if it is positive towards the racing industry, the government can choose to ignore it as they have done others.

August 19, 2012 - 11:23 amThanks Marty, I met you

Thanks Marty, I met you years ago at Belleville raceway you actually interviewed me, I really do appreciate everything you have done. There is no doubt you have made an impact. You are a true professional. Thankyou Bruce T. Winning

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