PC’s outline horseracing plan


Horse Racing PCsTwo Ontario PC MPPs and the party’s candidate for Essex were in LaSalle Thursday to discuss their party’s bold plan “to turn around the province’s embattled horse racing industry.”

Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece and Chatham-Kent-Essex MPP Rick Nicholls joined Essex PC candidate Dave Brister at the Robert McIntosh Stables where they outlined the PC plan for horseracing.

“(Ontario PC leader) Tim Hudak has put out our plan for the industry which has been decimated by the NDP-Liberal coalition,” said Brister.

Brister said there is “no question of the damage the NDP-Liberal coalition has done to the horse racing industry in Essex County,” adding that jobs have “evaporated” because of it.

“We strongly believe the industry, and all those whose livelihoods depend on it, deserve better from the provincial government,” said Pettapiece, who serves as the PC critic for rural affairs and horse racing.

“Our plan would put the industry back on a sound footing.” The Progressive Conservative plan includes putting “an immediate and permanent end to the Liberals’ so-called ‘modernization plan’ that would close down racetrack slots in favor of building 29 new casinos in locations yet to be determined,” Pettapiece outlined.

The plan would also “re-establish, but fix, a slots at racetracks program that will be transparent, accountable and affordable to the taxpayer.”

The PC’s also pledged to form public-private partnerships with businesses “that know how to run slots and other games to increase the overall revenue that can be shared with the horse racing industry and other taxpayers.”

Pettapiece also noted his party’s plan also promises to “build off of what is already working and successful. New gaming operations – like table games and sports betting – should go to racetracks as opposed to building 29 new casinos.”

The Conservative plan would also enforce “strong accountability and transparency mechanisms around how the revenue is used, as recommended in the 2008 Sadinsky report.”

Pettapiece said the Liberals “chose to ignore that report, threw it on the shelf and it has been collecting dust for five years.” Had report recommendations been followed, Pettapiece said the horse racing industry wouldn’t be where it is right now.

Brister stated the NDP will tell people it supports horse racing but chooses to support the Liberals when it comes time to potentially bring down the minority government in Queen’s Park. Pettapiece agreed, stating NDP support is “nothing but a smokescreen”

“Horse racing is essential to southwestern Ontario,” said Nicholls. “It not only provides recreation for horse racing enthusiasts, but also employment – both directly and indirectly – to thousands in the area.”

The horse racing industry employs some 60,000 people, and helps sustain small towns and rural communities across the province.

Pettapiece and Nicholls also met with area industry representatives to hear their take on the state of the industry and their feedback on the PC plan.

“People in the industry should not have to go begging for grants from the government,” said Pettapiece. “The Liberals’ proposal would only create another bureaucracy—meaning fewer jobs and fewer spinoff benefits for rural communities.”

Inevitably, he added, it will mean track closures.

“In contrast, the Ontario PCs’ five-point plan will strengthen public-private partnerships with the job-creating racing industry, not tear them apart,” Pettapiece explained.

Paul Branton, a consultant with the Lakeshore horse racing group and the local PC party riding president, said the races in Leamington earlier this year handled the second highest betting average of any racetrack in the province. The Leamington track saw a live per race average of $2,656.15.

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