Progressive Conservative MPP Rob Milligan has parked himself firmly on the side of horse racing regarding the politically contentious issue of the Slots at Racetracks program.
The open letter Milligan sent to his constituents in Northumberland-Quinte West to encourage their proactive support of the racing and breeding industry appears below:
The Liberal government has recently announced the premature cancellation of
the Slots at Racetracks Partnership with the horse breeding and racing industry.
Let me be crystal clear on my reaction to this decision – I stand in complete
opposition to the Liberal attack on the equine industry!
Since the day that announcement was made, my PC colleagues and I have been
giving speeches, asking questions in the Legislature, meeting with constituents
from the equine industry – doing whatever it takes to ensure that this
government knows that rural Ontario is furious with the decision to scrap the
slots partnership – a decision which will cost the government more than three
dollars for every dollar they claim they will “save”. The fact is that scrapping
the partnership will cost the government more than $1.1 billion each and every
year, money that will have to be replaced by higher taxes or offset by reducing
Many people in this riding remember how the NDP government devastated the
horse racing and breeding industries in the early 1990’s by adding an oppressive
tax. That problem was fixed by the PC government which then went on to create
the slots partnership and, in so doing, ensured the prosperity and growth of
this important agricultural sector. The root of the problem is that the Liberal
government just doesn’t care about rural Ontario. They are comfortable firing
580 people at racetracks in small towns like Fort Erie and Sarnia (and even
larger cities such as Windsor) while claiming that building another casino in
Toronto will, magically, generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new
revenue. The reality is that revenue from the horse-racing partnership has been
steady and, in most years, shown a slight increase in revenues, while the
casinos have gone from generating $1.3 billion, per year, when Mr. McGuinty was
elected, to only $100 Million profit last year – yet THIS is the part of the
gaming industry Mr. McGuinty thinks should be expanded.
You can rest assured that I will continue to speak out against this assault
on our riding, and all the other ridings where horse breeding and racing create
a total of 60,000 jobs. I participated in the press conference and two public
rallies at Queen’s Park– anything to show the government just how unpopular a
move he has made and how dire the impact will be on rural Ontario. The good news
is, because of the minority situation, there is every reason to believe the next
election could be as soon as next spring – or even earlier – and voters will be
given another chance to pass judgment on the Liberal government. My PC
colleagues and I will be voting against the Budget because of this, and several
other, utterly unacceptable provisions it contains. In the meantime, I encourage
you to get as many friends and colleagues to write to the Premier and demand
that he reconsider this outrageous and totally illogical decision.
Please take the time to download a copy of the petition and get as many of
your friends, neighbours and co-workers to sign it. When you return them to me,
I will ensure that they are read at Queen’s Park and presented to the
government. When you consider just how many people in this riding earn their
living, directly or indirectly, from the equine industry, it is essential that
we demonstrate how widespread the opposition is to this expensive and
ill-considered decision by the Liberal government.
In the past fifty years, only one political party has demonstrated an
unswerving support for the equine industry – the second largest component of the
agricultural industry in Ontario. You have my personal commitment that that
support will continue as long as I’m your MPP.
Rob E. Milligan, MPP