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Thomas asks Auditor General to audit public money flowing to Woodbine

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas in the Queen's Park media gallery.
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Toronto – In light of concerns raised at the Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario’s inaugural meeting on December 6, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is calling on Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk to conduct an audit of Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG), formerly known as the Ontario Jockey Club.

“Horse racing has a long and noble history in Ontario,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), “but more recent history has seen an industry destroyed by greedy track owners and a reckless lack of oversight on the part of the government.”

Horse people representing three breeds of racehorses packed a room at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel with the goal of creating a single voice to educate the Ontario government on the uncertainties facing the horse racing industry in the province.

Both the alliance and OPSEU are concerned about the hundreds of millions of dollars the provincial Liberals have poured into the industry by way of WEG, which is a for-profit enterprise, according to an article in the Toronto Star. The public expenditure has done little to benefit hardworking horse people on the ground, the alliance says.

“What we have here is a classic David-and-Goliath story,” said Thomas. “Simple, horse-loving folks are being bullied by a big, well-greased corporation that receives generous helpings of public dollars. If any horse person dares complain, the corporation won’t hesitate to bar them from racing at its Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks.

“There’s a huge deficit of oversight, accountability, and transparency here, which is completely unacceptable for a body on the receiving end of millions of taxpayer dollars,” Thomas continued. “As things stand, WEG can tell horse people, ‘It’s our way or the highway.’ As President of a democratic union that works to give people a voice, I can’t stand idly by while a corporation sticks it to the honest, hardworking women and men of rural Ontario.

“That’s why I call on the Auditor General to undertake a full audit of WEG to determine how it’s using provincial tax dollars.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-629-1931