TORONTO, Oct. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - The president of the 130,000-member
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has thrown his support
behind the call for transparency in the "slots at racetrack"
Warren (Smokey) Thomas urged the government today to come clean with its
findings on what wealthy racetrack owners did with the money that was
intended to support an industry vital to the lives of 50,000 rural
Ontarians, their families and their communities.
"Throughout government we are seeing the incremental creep of the
corporate agenda," said Thomas. "Increasingly, we are seeing tax
dollars designed to support worthwhile projects being funneled to the
"Name the scandal: e Health, ORNGE, power plants, and social assistance
transformation. Money intended to produce positive results for
hard-working Ontarians and the most vulnerable is ending up in the
pockets of the elite and their power-broker buddies. It's like a
reverse Robin Hood mentality has taken our province hostage."
A recent Toronto Star article pointed to Woodbine Entertainment and
other wealthy racetrack owners spending slots money on executive
bonuses rather than the race track improvements they were intended to
fund. Amid concerns of another scandal, former finance minister Dwight
Duncan scrapped the program destroying the lives of thousands of rural
Ontarians and their families.
"The rich got caught with their hands in the cookie jar and honest 'salt
of the earth' horsemen have paid the price. Woodbine goes on, while
rural families languish," said Thomas.
The Ontario Harness Horseman Association alerted the government to the
inappropriate use of taxpayer money, but little was done until the
threat of another scandal motivated the Liberal government to scrap the
program. Horsemen fearful for their future could not speak out because
of private property rights that allow racetracks to kick out
Thomas pointed to a culture that is now pervasive throughout government.
"While right-wing extremists like Conservative party leader Tim Hudak
point to hard-working Ontarians and their unions as the culprit, he is
allowing the erosion of quality public services in favour of personal
and corporate greed," added Thomas.
The OPSEU president went on to indict the current government's love
affair with the business class.
"All of these corporate panels being set up by the McGuinty/Wynne
government guarantee only one thing; Working people and their families
will have no say, no influence and little hope of impacting government
policy. Corporate nests will continue to be feathered, while the
backbone of this province is chipped away. It's time for us all to band
together and clearly state that enough is enough."
For further information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas