Taras Natyshak, the NDP MPP for Essex and NDP Opposition Critic for Labor, told Ottawa Life Magazine yesterday (March 15) that the NDP supports the Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP) and believes the program should never have been changed by the Ontario Liberals. Natyshak said that Dwight Duncan erred in changing the successful partnership that brings in $1.5 billion in wages and salaries to Ontario’s economy.
He said the decision of the McGuinty Liberals to end SARP without any consultation or negotiation has sent the horseracing industry reeling: “We’ve already seen almost 1,000 jobs lost and 50,000 more jobs are on the line. On top of the economic and jobs impacts, owners are left with no choice but to put down some of their racehorses. They’ve dropped in value so much that owners can no longer afford to carry the costs of feeding and maintaining them.”
Ottawa Life Magazine Managing Editor Dan Donovan asked Natyshak for the official NDP position on the SARP decision as of today. Natyshak responded that the NDP position today is that “the NDP fully supports the Slots at Racetracks Program as it was and is against the changes brought in by Dwight Duncan and OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation) last March – and which took effect after the June 2012 budget vote – and that this has always been the NDP position.” When asked if he or Andrea Howarth specifically told Premier Wynne that the NDP now supports SARP as it was before and supports a return to SARP, Natyshak said “yes, they had done this.”
However, Natyshak got testy when asked why the NDP abandoned the very families and businesses in the industry he is now claiming to have concern for when the NDP allowed the Liberal budget implementing the changes to pass last June. Natyshak said the NDP did not support the Liberal budget but abstained. When asked if that position was hypocritical because abstaining would allow the budget to pass and guarantee the gutting of SARP and the death of the equine industry in Ontario, Natyshak became angry and told Donovan he was an inept journalist and ignorant. Donovan thanked him for the compliment.
Natyshak has posted an article on his website which indicates the NDP wants a return to the SARP program. Here is an excerpt:
“We have already seen job losses in race tracks because of the uncertainty of funding. The industry is suffering, and the damage already caused will be hard to undo. A once thriving industry is being completely dismantled, and the impact will be felt throughout rural Ontario for decades to come. The horse racing and breeding industry is the second largest sub-sector of Ontario’s agricultural sector. We need to ensure that it continues to thrive, and grow, as a valued part of our economy.”
Top Photo: ontariondp.com