Thursday, October 18, 2012

Looking To The Federal Government For Guidance

As I sit back and review everything that has happened since the O.L.G (Ontario Liberal Government as well as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming...coincidence?) announced that the Slots-At-Racetrack-Partnership will cease in March of 2013, I feel like I'm in a horrible nightmare of sorts...a tornado if you will....I have no way of planting my feet firmly on the ground long enough to even wrap my head around what has happened thus far.  "Fast" cannot describe how the above mentioned entities are changing the way horse racing will exist (or not exist) in the near future.  As of the writing of this post, only one racetrack is operational this week, Western Fair Raceway.  That's ONE racetrack that's suppose to handle the entries of horses coming from Essex, Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent, and Middlesex, until November 16, 2012, then Flamboro Raceway re-opens, and that doesn't even include horses coming from the state of Michigan! 

So let's recap, and keep in mind that some of the below racetracks may not even re-open come 2013:

Hiawatha Horse Park:  Closed For The Season
Clinton Raceway:  Closed For The Season
Windsor Raceway:  Closed Permanently
Flamboro Raceway:  Closed Until November 16, 2012
Dresden Raceway:  Closed For The Season
Woodstock Raceway:  Closed For The Season
Mohawk Raceway:  Closed For The Season
Hanover Raceway:  Closed For The Season
Grand River Raceway:  Closed For The Season
Georgian Downs:  Open
Woodbine:  Open
Kawartha Downs:  Open
Sudbury Downs:  Open Till November 24, 2012
Rideau Carlton:  Open
Western Fair:  Open

Ok, so if you're Joe Horseman (or Jolene Horsewoman) with a $4000 to $6000 claiming horse, that's coming from Windsor to race somewhere, the closest track would be Western Fair (that's IF you get in, which I doubt), other than that, you're shipping to Georgian Downs, a brisk 419kms (5 hours)!  So many of you will say, "Well that's no different from any other year."  Maybe so, but at least Windsor Raceway would have been available, hence shipping to Juno Alaska to compete!

This time next year will be devastating, and not only to the racing portion of the industry.....but to all other sectors of this industry...They will be clear-cutted!

So I thought to myself, "What can the Federal Government do as far as damage control?" 
I then e-mailed the Prime Minister briefly, asking to review the state of the horse racing industry in Ontario.....and let's be perfectly clear.....the PM did not even look at my e-mail, but one of his assistants, or volunteers was the one who responded....

Here is the response:

Dear Ms. Lemesurier:

Thank you for writing to the Prime Minister.  While you may be assured that careful consideration has been given to the situation you have described, the matter you have raised does not fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government. You would be best advised, therefore, to pursue your enquiries with the appropriate provincial authority.  I regret that I am unable to provide you with a more favourable response.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write.

Here is what I e-mailed back:

Dear Mr. _______,

Thank you for your prompt reply.  I realize that the federal government is prohibited from interfering with the structure and operations of municipal institutions, but it faces no such constitutional constraint when it comes to rural issues, such as infrastructure, employment, and trade and commerce.  A federal-municipal relationship needs to be considered closely in this matter, as the outcome could be devastating for Canada's agricultural sector.

The decisions made currently by the Ontario Liberal Government with regards to cancelling the Slots At Racetrack Partnership, (thereby causing a ripple effect to decimate 60,000 jobs plus), is clearly a violation of our constitutional and civil liberties, as no referendum was allowed and no substituted program was set in place to offset the damage.

The impact of this decision will be felt locally, provincially, and federally, which would ultimatley affect Trade and Commerce.  Therefore, the federal government can override the provincial jurisdiction by declaring it to be a federal "work and undertaking", under section 92(10)(c) of the Constitution Act, 1867.  "Works" declared by the Parliament of Canada to be "for the General Advantage of Canada" or "for the Advantage of Two or more of the Provinces".

A "work or undertaking" will be under federal control under section 92(10) where it is connecting the province with something outside of the province.  The horse racing breeding industry alone would clearly fall under this catagory as it spans not only in Ontario, but to North America, and thus, globally.  Grain and forage commodities will also be affected as many horsemen buy not only from Ontario, but from the Prairie Provinces.

In closing, the federal government should play an explicit role in rural and urban policy and it is imperative that steps are taken to ensure the long-term benefit of Canada's agricultural sector.

Claudette Lemesurier

Now I'm no lawyer, nor do I claim to know the Constitution in my sleep, but you can't tell me that when an entire sector of Canada is being threatened, that the federal government cannot override certain decisions made by a province!

I have yet to receive a response......

Stay safe, keep your hooves on the ground, and keep reaching for the wire!

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