The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce (FCC) welcomed a special guest to its morning meeting last Wednesday at the Dutch Mill Country Market which featured Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale MPP Ted McMeekin – the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) in the Dalton McGuinty provincial Cabinet – as the speaker.
John Snobelen – a former Minister of Education in the Mike Harris Progressive Conservative Cabinet – was a surprise attendee. His presence was especially important as Snobelen is a member of the 3-person bi-partisan ‘expert panel’ appointed by McMeekin to provide advice on changes proposed for Ontario’s horse racing industry.
It was announced in the last provincial Budget that the ‘Slots at Racetracks Program’ – which provides $345 million annually to the provincial horse racing industry – would be terminated effective March 31, 2013. Critics of the decision claim that the end of the SARP program will kill an entire industry (with its estimated 60,000 direct and indirect jobs – including many in Flamborough).
Despite the fact that he is the OMAFRA minister, MPP Ted said at the meeting that he found out about the end of SARP program through the media. He added that the appointment of the ‘expert panel’ is part of his strategy to try and save the horse racing industry.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina was also present at the meeting – and at one point all three were on the stage to share their thoughts. MPP Ted and Snobelen both indicated that an announcement about the future of horse racing in Ontario was imminent.