January 5, 2018
Office of the Auditor General of Ontario
Box 105, 15th Floor
20 Dundas Street West
Attn: Ms. Bonnie Lysyk
Re: Woodbine Entertainment Group
Dear Ms. Lysyk:
I am counsel to the Horse Peoples Alliance of Ontario (the HPAO) and I have been instructed to write to you with respect to your letter dated December 20, 2017 in response to the letter from Mr. Warren Thomas, President of OPSEU, dated December 18, 2017.
Firstly, may I thank you for your prompt response thereto. The HPAO is certainly pleased that Mr. Thomas raised with you some of the issues that are so critically important to horse people across the province, and with your interest therein.
It is the firm belief of the HPAO and its constituent membership, that full and complete disclosure of all information, financial and otherwise, respecting the Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) and, of course, all Ontario racetracks is essential. Without doubt, not only are horse people entitled to that information, but in order for them to make considered and responsible choices as to their participation in this industry, they must be in possession of all the facts. To be clear, while horse people have, over many years, contributed considerable resources into an industry that they love, more than that, their ongoing and continuing investment of lifetimes of labour and family earnings and savings speaks volumes as to their common commitment to make the horse racing and breeding industry of Ontario the best in the world. That industry remains essential for the wellbeing of the many thousands in the agricultural population of Ontario, and as such the viability and vitality of horse racing and breeding extends its impact well beyond the acreage surrounding the WEG racetracks.
Accordingly, for these people to make judgments, decisions and choices as to their significant involvement in racing they need the fullest disclosure of information particularly as to who and what WEG is and to whom WEG need answer, as to whether WEG is in compliance with their own corporate objects, whether WEG is a “for profit corporation” or something else, and what would be the benefits to horse racing and breeding and its participants of the WEG plans of expansion and control. Many questions are being asked but few if any answers are forthcoming.
Your letter references that WEG is a “for profit private corporation”. The HPAO has reviewed certain public documents that indicate that WEG is a corporation without share capital, but with corporate objects solely directed to horse racing and breeding, horse education and participation, and which disclose it as being “not-for-profit”, albeit with recent Supplementary Letters Patent that provide for profit creating activities which must benefit those horse racing and breeding corporate objects. The HPAO would welcome information from your office which might clarify this issue as to the corporate structure of WEG, and of course any other information that you feel it appropriate to provide.
Suffice it to say while the HPAO will make all other efforts to seek out the necessary fullest of information as to WEG and its make-up, plans and financial dealings with the funds it receives and expends, any assistance that your office might provide will be most welcome.
Lastly, on behalf of the Horse Peoples Alliance of Ontario let me again thank you for your time and this opportunity to address these issues with you.
Frank L. Roth