After Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath publicly announced her motion for mandatory casino referendums, Progressive Conservative MP Monte McNaughton has gone on the record as saying that the passage of a bill on the matter is the only thing that will make a referendum become a reality.
A report by the Hamilton Spectator has cited McNaughton as saying that his referendum bill, Bill 76, is being deliberately delayed by Dalton McGuinty's minority Ontario Liberal Government in order to allow the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to proceed with its vague, controversial and ever-changing gaming modernization plan.
“A bill is the only thing that’s going to force referendums to be held,” McNaughton was quoted as saying in the Hamilton Spectator article. “A motion isn’t going to cut it.”
McNaughton has explained that Bill 76 has passed a pair of readings, and that the most recent reading passed with wide support, even with the support of some Liberal MPs.
In her press conference with Hamilton Councillor Sam Merulla yesterday, Horwath pulled no punches when describing the OLG, which she characterized as a government agency which has been allowed to go "rogue" under a recklessly lackadaisical Liberal watch. Others have a different take on the situation, believing that the OLG has imposed tight deadlines on municipalities to decide whether or not they want to become host gaming municipalities to circumvent the possibility of referendums on the issue.
The Ontario Liberal Party --- via the OLG, which it governs --- has made it quite clear that it does not support the idea of municipalities conducting referendums to truly find out if residents actually want full-blown casino expansion in their own backyards.
“The December deadline is a false deadline," the Hamilton Spectator quoted Horwath as saying, in reference to the deadline being placed on the City of Hamilton. "It’s being imposed by a rogue government agency (the OLG) that has decided to pit communities against communities in an undemocratic process to try and site casinos."
Horwath went on to say, “This is the responsibility of the provincial government to ensure that a proper process takes place. It shouldn’t be up to the OLG to decide whether or not the people of this province have a democratic voice in this decision-making process.”
(With files from the Hamilton Spectator)