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Liberal Minister Admits to Making a Mistake with Decision to End the Slots at Racetracks Partnership

(February 1, 2013) The Liberal Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ted McMeekin, has confessed that his government`s decision to end the Slots at Racetracks program (SARP) was a mistake. His admission comes nearly a year after the horseracing industry was decimated by his government and an estimated 60,000 jobs put at risk.

"The Liberals decision to end the SARP agreement--a partnership that generates billions every year for the provincial economy--has done nothing but create uncertainly in an industry that was previously thriving," said Wilson. "Horseman/woman, breeders, trainers and veterinarians should not have to have their lives and incomes put on hold for a year for the government to come clean and admit they were wrong."

In a recent interview with Andrew Dreschel, a columnist at the Hamilton Spectator, McMeekin admits that his government dropped the ball when it comes to the horseracing industry. McMeekin went on to state that the Liberal Party needs to be more progressive, collaborative and better listeners, as well as, they need to quit trying to wedge issues.

"Arbitrarily canceling a program that benefits the province and is of immense importance to the rural community never made sense," said Wilson. "For a cabinet minister to casually suggest that his government has been creating wedge issues that puts politics ahead of what's best for Ontario provides clarity."

Wilson feels Ontarians need to be wary of the government's recent announcement of two-year lease agreements for slot operations at eight racetracks across the province. He warns that the horseracing industry operates on a three-year cycle and that the agreement provides no further certainty into the future of the industry.

"For nine years the Liberals have shown nothing but contempt for rural Ontario," said Wilson. "Those in the industry and every Ontarian have the right to a job and I will continue to fight every inch of the way to protect that right and jobs in this province." 

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