A Statement of the Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario
For far too long the Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarterhorse horse people of Ontario have been marginalized, and put off to the side when significant decisions as to their future have been made. On too many occasions horse people have been asked for their views only to find that those views are heard but not listened to. For too many years the intentional confidential compartmentalizing of decisions and agreements have kept important information from horse people. For much of the last decade the divisions between the breeds have been emphasized so as to restrict and impede the sharing of knowledge. As a consequence, a go it alone approach that inappropriately and unfairly creates competition amongst the horse people, which should only be a factor on the race track, has been generated at the decision making table.
Too often the required principles of transparency and accountability have been pushed aside in the desire to effect speedy change. The Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario sees that it is happening again and a voice of protest must be raised and heard by the Ontario Government.
The Alliance appreciates and recognizes the significance of the role of the Ontario Government in the racing industry to stabilize, regulate and to assist importantly in its financial future viability, and the genuine desire of the Ontario Government to do the right things to achieve that goal.
Given the foregoing, horse people of all three breeds view with grave concern the current draft proposal of Ontario Racing to reorganize the racing industry, placing even greater control with the racetrack, and setting out a financial model for the government without any discussion or input from those who will risk their careers and livelihood under that model.
There is something seriously amiss with a proposal that puts forth a predetermined reorganization and then grants to others a truncated right to a limited number of consultative opportunities all premised on a basis that the reorganization must be accepted as proposed or the Ontario Government will tire of the industry and give up on racing. Fear mongering and sowing seeds of division within and across the breeds is no longer an effective approach to solving the very real issues the racing industry faces today.
The Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario trusts the Ontario Government to be considerate of the needs and interests of all horse people. The Alliance believes that the Ontario Government is not unmindful of the thousands of horse people who directly participate in horse racing and the many thousands more in the rural and agricultural communities of the province who are dependent on racing and breeding for their economic wellbeing.
The answers to the future viability and growth of the industry, and a return to a time when owning, breeding and training horses in this province was in many respects the best in North America lies in making haste at a slower pace. It lies truly in the application of transparency and accountability to all that is done, considered and decided. It lies in the full disclosure of the agreements that exist today and the negotiations that are carried on in and for the future.
The Alliance therefore calls upon the Ontario Government to accept that the horse people of the province have a right to make considered representations as to the future of the industry that they love and have worked in for so long, and that they are entitled, now, to a full and complete disclosure of the agreements and understandings that they must tolerate today in order to participate, and that decisions as to the future need not be made on the quick. The Alliance trusts that the Government does not require a speedy conclusion based only on one set of representations by only one entity. Horse people of Ontario need the opportunity to examine the current realities that bind parties today through confidential agreements which have never been available to them, but yet they are expected to simply accept as the governing rules.
The Alliance believes that the following sets out some, but not necessarily all of the information that is needed for the Alliance and horse people of all breeds to make recommendations to the government as to how the industry should be organized, how to bring back fairness and openness through which true partnerships can be crafted for the betterment of all, race track, owner, breeder, trainer and the agricultural community.
Contracts between Associations and Racetracks;
Alliance agreement between WEG and other Racetracks;
Transfer payment agreements between Government and Racetracks;
Ontario Lottery and Gaming rental agreements;
Allocation of Pari- Mutuel tax reduction funds;
Wagering information from CPMA;
Commissions from wagering, uncashed ticket revenue, uncashed purse checks;
Commissions from sale of Ontario product;
Budgets for Ontario Racing or Ontario Lottery and Gaming Racing division;
While recognizing that a continued certainty of funding is necessary, certainly for the breeding segment of the industry, the Alliance seeks to moderate sensibly the rush to a judgment that need not be quickly concluded, particularly if the speed to the conclusion works to the contrary of the best interests of those most concerned. The Alliance asks for the fuller opportunity for the disclosure of information thereby making horse people a true knowledge partner in the industry. The Alliance asks for the right and the opportunity to have its voice heard.
Frank L. Roth
Dr. Paul Branton