Response To Ontario Racing Proposal

Published: February 9, 2017 10:02 pm EST

On Thursday (February 9), the Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario issued a statement on the proposal for a long-term funding arrangement as presented by Ontario Racing.

The statement from The Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario appears below.

The Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario has concerns that the proposal of Ontario Racing, as a basis for the going forward of the industry, speaks primarily, and perhaps completely, to and about the needs and concerns of race tracks. The Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario believes that it does not reflect the absolute essential of horse people's equal participation in the decisions to be made every day as to race dates and provincial distribution thereof, breeding issues, horse population, purses and conditions. It is not enough to say that the financial stability of Government funding each year will help the industry, if horse people are again left outside without significant involvement and are forced to accept others' decisions.

The Letter of Intent between WEG and the OLG when disclosed on Friday may be an effective arrangement for those two parties, but more likely it will demonstrate clearly that horse people will continue to have no say, control or equal involvement in the future of their industry. Moreover proposals and LOIs put forward for consideration without any basic details as to financial and contractual arrangements is not worthy yet of consideration. and no agreements should be put forward for acceptance until there is clarity and full knowledge as to those basics that are presently unknown, but rather reserved only for the few.

It is interesting to note that when OR was requested by the Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario on December 12, 2016 to disclose details of the financial and contractual arrangements upon which their proposal was based, no response was forthcoming. This week when the same request was made in reference to the LOI, OR advised that "OR does not currently possess any other documents related to financial or contractual matters relative to the LOI." The Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario is therefore uncertain and very concerned as to the breadth of information upon which the OR proposal is based.

It is unknown whether OR had documents in the past but not presently, or never had them. In either case horse people are again denied the opportunity to examine and assess them and thereby to know, study and comment thereon.

The Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario believes that there is no need to comment on and or decide agreement to the OR proposal in the suggested and rushed timeframe. The Government of Ontario has approved funding through 2019 with an extension through 2021 and therefore the industry has the time to deal with all of these and many other issues. There are contractual agreements with race tracks through 2019 together with likely extensions through 2021 and therefore there should be no urgency for any party. The OR suggested timeframe of comment by the end of February is an arbitrary approach to force a speedy decision that serves only certain parties' interests and certainly is detrimental to horse people once again. Such urgency of decision is completely at odds with the requirements of full transparency and accountability.

The Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario stands for and requests on behalf of all horse people the need for full and complete disclosure and the necessity of horse people being an equal to the race tracks in all things, failing which the industry cannot flourish.

Frank Roth
Horse Peoples' Alliance of Ontario