July 31, 2014

Sue Leslie Provides Update On OHRIA Task Force

“I have a lot of confidence in Stan [Sadinsky] that he’ll come up with the best
possible plan for the industry and we’re hopefully going to be able to support
it.”

In an interview conducted last week for HBPA, OHRIA President Sue Leslie
commented on the formation of the organization’s task force and hiring of Stan
Sadinsky as counsel. According to Leslie, the OHRIA Board felt that bringing on
Sadinsky to construct a plan was best for all parties involved.

“The Board of OHRIA has struggled, we have has felt conflicted in our
individual roles and the people we represent,” said Leslie. “And with what the
province has done, with such a drastic cut in income, it’s hard to believe that
whatever plan we come up with it’s not going to take a hit.

“We just felt it was very conflicted for us, ourselves, to come up with the
plan that was going to see individuals within the industry get hurt. So we
decided the best way to do it was someone independent who knows our industry
well, who is respected by government – Stan Sadinsky – to lead a very small task
force, because to be honest Stan will be doing most of the work, and come up
with a plan that would be independent, that he sees would be workable for the
industry moving forward based on what we can negotiate with government.”

Leslie noted that Sadinsky’s plan for horse racing would then come back to
the OHRIA Board for the organization to either endorse or decline to support.
Four years ago, Sadinsky penned a report on horse racing in Ontario for the
Liberal government. That plan, frequently referred to as the Sadinsky Report,
asked for government to maintain the slots-at-racetracks program but with
benchmarks for ensuring the funding was properly utilized.

“We’ve giving Stan until the end of June to come back to the Board of OHRIA,”
continued Leslie. “We’re very cognisant of the fact that the yearling sales are
in September. So by giving Stan until the end of June we’re hoping that gives us
July to come up with something firm with the government and to get some
reassurance to the industry going forward. Government doesn’t move quickly, I
sure have learned that.”

One thing that Leslie sees changing is the governance model with Ontario,
given that the Ontario Racing Commission is an arm of the government which is
seemingly trying to distance itself from racing.

“Depending on what the end result of this mess is, I can see the horse racing
industry taking a lot more responsibility for itself through a governance model
and I see the [Ontario Racing Commission] taking less responsibility. Where
exactly that ends up I can’t say for sure.”

Earlier this week, Senator Bob Runciman was critical of racing’s reaction to
the OLG-Liberal government decision to end the slots-at-racetracks program as of
March 2013. On the contrary, Leslie feels that the petitions and pressure has
brought racing’s plight “to the forefront of government.”

“I know it’s hard to ask the industry to have more patience but we’ve got our
income coming in until next March and anything we do that is going to cut off
any chance of working something out with the government can be done later on,”
says OHRIA’s President. “We’ve got to make every effort, in my view and the view
of many people both in government and experts in public relations and government
affairs, all are encouraging OHRIA to continue to work with the government -
which we are going to do. Obviously at some point, if we feel we’re getting
nowhere and we feel that it’s not a meaningful dialogue then we’ll be the first
to tell the industry and, as you say, then our strategy is going to have to
change.”

(Standardbred Canada)