Standardbred Breeders’ Lawsuit


Lawsuit Getting Closer To The Truth


(Story courtesy of Harness Racing Update, and written by Dave Briggs)

The former premier of Ontario and other key government officials will no longer have to take the stand in open court to explain why the lucrative Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP) was cancelled, but the lawyer representing a group of Standardbred breeders in a $65 million lawsuit against the government said this past Thursday (December 7) the case is still progressing nicely. To read entire article click here.



Warned In Advance Of Cancellation: “23,000 job losses and 27,000 dead horses.”


Ontario PC Party leader Patrick Brown has commented on the documents filed in the Standardbred breeders lawsuit against the province of Ontario and the OLG that planned for the “collapse” of the horse racing industry with the decision to end the slots-at-racetracks partnership.

Brown was a guest on Newstalk 1010 on Wednesday (October 18) discussing the civil lawsuit against the Province and the OLG. He referenced a specific email from John Wilkinson sent to Dave Gene, at the time Chief of Staff for then Premier Dalton McGuinty. The quotes Brown refers to are as follows:

“We met with mckinsey, hired by finance. They confirmed under their wildly optimistic best case scenario (ie no collapse of the industry), we are look at 13,000 job losses and 16,000 euthanized horses between sep 4 and dec 31. Collapse (which we think is what will actually happen) is 23,000 job losses and 27,000 dead horses. The lawsuits coming our will add up to $500 million and you will be lucky to settle for $250 million.”

To see the rest of this article Click Here.

Government Witnesses Examined In Standardbred Breeders Lawsuit

October 12, 2017-Examinations have begun in the lawsuit launched by a group of Standardbred breeders against the Government of Ontario, and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Rod Phillips, former CEO of OLG, and Josh Cogan, a staffer at the Ministry of Finance, have already been examined, with more examinations to be scheduled this month.

As previously reported, a divisional court, on Tuesday, October 3, rejected a key appeal from the Ontario Government and OLG. As a result, 11 witnesses will be scheduled for cross-examination. To read the rest of this article click here.

Courts: Duncan, McGuinty To Testify

On Tuesday October 3, 2017, a divisional court rejected a key appeal from the Ontario Government and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. in regard to an ongoing legal battle with a group of Standardbred breeders in the province.

According to an article by the Toronto Star, the anticipated ruling affirms that a total of 11 individuals – including former Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan – must testify in civil claim proceedings pertaining to the cancellation of the slots-at-racetracks program in the province. For the rest of the article click here.

Appeal Filed To Block Testimony

Reports indicate an appeal has been filed regarding the ruling that would summon a total of 11 individuals — including former Premier Dalton McGuinty and his Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan — to court to testify in a civil claim lodged by a collective of breeders pertaining to the cancellation of the slots-at-racetracks program in Ontario.

To read the entire article click here.


McGuinty, Duncan Must Testify

 August 9, 2017-The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ruled that former Premier Dalton McGuinty and former Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan, among others, will be forced to answer questions on the record in regard to the controversial decision to cancel the Slots at Racetracks Program.

The decision was released late last week (Friday, August 4). It came via a motions-to-quash ruling by Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Emery. A group of Ontario Standardbred breeders has filed a $65-million lawsuit against the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. in regard to the SARP cancellations.

As part of the legal proceedings, the breeders’ lawyers issued summonses for 13 witnesses, including McGuinty, Duncan, economist Don Drummond, current Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Ted McMeekin, the province’s former Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. In turn, lawyers representing the Province and the OLG filed a motion to quash the summonses.

Justice Emery’s Friday ruling dismissed the motions brought by the Province and the OLG, except when it came to Premier Kathleen Wynne and MPP McMeekin, whom are both currently sitting members of the legislature. When it came to the decision to exclude Premier Wynne and McMeekin from the lawsuit proceedings, Justice Emery cited ‘parliamentary privilege.’

According to a report by the Toronto Star, the group of Standardbred breeders have emailed a letter to Premier Wynne and MPP McMeekin requesting that they waive their privilege. According to the article, the letter references Premier Wynne’s recent decision to waive her privilege in order to take part in an upcoming trial in Sudbury.

In addition to McGuinty, Duncan and Drummond, former ORC Chair Rod Seiling and Horse Racing Transition Panel members John Snobelen and John Wilkinson have been summoned to testify.

The list of the 11 individuals that will have to testify as part of the summonses appears below.

  • Karim Bardeesy – In February 2012, Bardeesy was the Director of Policy and Research in the Office of the Premier.
  • Dwight Duncan – Minister of Finance in 2012, and Minister responsible for the OLG.
  • John Wilkinson – Wilkinson was a panelist on the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel starting around June of 2012.
  • Rod Seiling – Seiling was the Chair of the Ontario Racing Commission in 2012.
  • Don Drummond – Drummond is the author of a report commonly referred to as the ‘Drummond Report.’
  • Blair Stransky – Stransky was a Senior Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Finance in 2011 and 2012.
  • Tim Shorthill – Shorthill was Chief of Staff to Staff to the Minister of Finance in 2011 and 2012.
  • Darcy McNeill – McNeill was the Directoe of Communications in the Ministry of Finance in 2012.
  • John Snobelen – Snobelen was a member of the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel starting around June 2012, worked for Ontario Horse Racing in March 2014, and was a former Cabinet Member in Premier Mike Harris’ government.
  • Steve Orsini – Orsini was Deputy Minister of Finance in 2012.
  • Dalton McGuinty – Premier of Ontario in February 2012.

Ontario Breeders Lawsuit Continues

April 26, 2017-The factum below was filed in Ontario court yesterday (Wednesday, April 26, 2017).  The factum is available here in PDF format.

Ontario Court Orders Broad Production Of Government Documents Regarding Cancellation Of SARP

February 9, 2015-Justice Emery ordered Ontario and OLG to make broad productions of un-redacted internal documents  relating to the government and OLG decision to cancel SARP        without notice in March 2012. To read the entire article click here.

SBOA In Discussions With ORC To Design Five-Year, $12 Million Enhancements For Ontario Standardbreds

October 28, 2014-A letter issued by the Ontario Racing Commission on Tuesday states that the province’s Standardbred racing industry is about to get a substantial infusion to its program. To read the rest of this story click here.

Ontario Standardbred Breeders Headed To Court On October 20, 2014

September 25,2014-Lawyers representing standardbred horse breeders in their lawsuit against the province of Ontario say counsel for the province is trying to drag out the case and inflict punitive punishment on the breeders.

                            Tuesday afternoon, the two sides were in Ontario Superior Court of Justice, in Guelph, where Judge Michael Emery dismissed the province’s request to adjourn a motion related to producing documents in the case.

For the rest of the story click here.

ORC Promises $2 Million Enhancement To Ontario’s Thoroughbred Breeders Awards Program

June 12, 2014-The Board of the Ontario Division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society has announced that it has officially signed an agreement with the Ontario Racing Commission which calls for a five-year, $2-million-per-year enhancement of the current breeders awards program, as well as an additional $2 million immediate payment to further benefit those within the province that have participated in the breeding of 2013 Registered Ontario-bred Thoroughbreds.

Statement’s Of Defense From  The Province Of Ontario And The OLG Are Answered By The Ontario Standardbred Breeders

May 30, 2014-The Province Of Ontario and the OLG have released their Statement Of Defense in regards to the Ontario Standardbred Breeder’s Lawsuit. The Ontario Standardbred Breeder’s then made their replies to these statements.

The full documents in PDF format can be seen by clicking on the red titles below

Statement Of Defense- Province Of Ontario

Breeder’s Reply To Statement Of Defense

Statement Of Defense-OLG

Breeder’s Reply To The OLG


CBC My Region: Racetrack Funding Emerges As Campaign Issue

May 27, 2014-Election fights are often referred to as horse races. But it’s not often that horse racing itself actually emerges as one of the campaign issues. The horses — and how to fund them — have now trotted their way into the Ontario campaign’s starting gate.

To see the entire article Click here.

Guelph Mercury Article -Opinion: Horse breeders right to be skeptical about what the future holds

May 7, 2014-To See the Guelph Mercury article that interviews Anna Meyers from Emerald Ridge Farm Click here.

Liberal’s Horse Racing Policy Misguided and Mean says the Real Agriculture Website

May 1, 2014-To read the entire story Click here.

 “OLG needs to work to regain trust from Ontario communities, says Sarnia mayor” London Free Press article

May 1, 2014-To read the entire article Click here.

  The Flamborough View Interviews Jim Whelan To See How Ontario Horse Racing Looks One Year After The Cancellation Of SARP

May 1, 2014- To read the entire story Click here.

OHRIA Responds To Auditor General’s Report

May 1, 2014-The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) was not surprised by the findings contained in the Auditor General’s Report on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s (OLG’s) Modernization Plan considering the devastation the horse racing and breeding industry has endured since the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP). To see the entire response from OHRIA Click here.

John Snobelen Issues A Statement In Response To MPP Randy Pattapiece’s Request

May 1, 2014-Ontario Horse Racing’s John Snobelen has issued a statement in response to MPP Randy Pettapiece’s request for clarification on breeder support from Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“Standardbred breeders enjoy the support of government through the Partnership Plan including HIP funding,” said Snobelen when reached for comment by Trot Insider on Wednesday afternoon. “We are making every effort to not interfere with the judicial process.  The next phase of the partnership plan includes industry self-governance including governance of breeder support programs.”

Pettapiece Asks Wynne Why The Standardbred Breeders Were The Only Group Excluded From Government Support Programs

April 29, 2014-In an open letter issued Tuesday to Premier Kathleen Wynne, MPP Randy Pettapiece urged the province’s Premier to explain why it appears that Standardbred breeders are the only group excluded by the announced government support programs.

To read the letter Click here.

 Auditor General Report Confirms Harm Caused To Standardbred Breeders By Abrupt And Unfair Cancellation Of Slots-At-Racetrack Program Revenue Sharing Partnership


Ontario, April 29, 2014 – A group of standardbred breeders from across the province who have sued Ontario and OLG welcomed the special report of the Auditor General released yesterday afternoon.

“The Auditor General’s report confirms everything we have said in our claims against Ontario and OLG,” said Walter Parkinson of Seelster Farms, a standardbred breeding operation based in Lucan, Ontario and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk affirmed what horse breeders across the province already knew: that the decision to cancel the Slots revenue-sharing partnership was “abrupt” and “can hardly be considered to have been open and transparent.” The report cites figures indicating that 9,000 jobs located “primarily in rural Ontario” have been lost, and that breeders’ activities have “dropped by about 60%”. The report also confirmed that Ontario and OLG’s modernization program vastly overstated anticipated revenue and job creation.

This devastating impact could have been avoided. The Auditor General says that Ontario and OLG were “fully aware” that cancelling the revenue sharing arrangement “would have a significant negative impact on the horse-racing industry,” and that the negative impact would disproportionally fall on “rural communities where horse people (horse owners, trainers and breeders) live and work,” particularly in the standardbred sector.

The report also concludes that Ontario and OLG failed to properly consult with the horse racing industry prior to the termination of the slots revenue sharing partnership. The Auditor General confirmed that “at no time” during the strategic review that culminated in the decision to terminate the program was the possibility of termination even discussed with industry stakeholders.

Despite the Auditor General’s observation that racetrack owners have been “less affected by the ending of the Slots at Racetracks Program,” OLG has paid out more that $80.6 million dollars to racetracks, and are paying an additional $113 million per year to racetracks where slot machines continue to be located. But the Liberal government has refused to pay a single dollar to standardbred breeders, even though they have suffered the greatest harm from the termination and have the least ability to recover. “I guess this government just isn’t interested in compensating people in rural Ontario because our vote isn’t important to it,” said Parkinson.

Walter Parkinson can be reached for comment at 519-227-4294 or

Better Farming Reports On Standardbred Horse Breeders Lawsuit

April 25, 2014-To read the entire story from Better Farming Click here.

Dave Briggs Reports On The Breeder’s Lawsuit in the Guelph Mercury

April 23, 2014-  Standardbred horse breeders are pushing ahead with a $65-million lawsuit against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and now have added the province of Ontario to the list of defendants.

To see the entire article Click Here. 

Harold Howe Of The Harness Edge Interviews Jonathan Lisus


April 20, 2014-Jonathan Lisus, Legal Counsel for the Standardbred Breeders  in Ontario, is interviewed by Harold Howe. To hear the complete interview Click here.

Bob Burgess Dispersing Entire Broodmare Band


April 20, 2014-After much deliberation, Robert Burgess of Campbellville, Ont. has decided to have a dispersal sale of his entire 29 mare standardbred breeding operation.

According to a statement issued on Thursday, the broodmares “are 100% owned by Mr. Burgess. ” The dispersal sale shall also include all 2014 foals but shall not include any members of Mr. Burgess’ racing stable or any broodmares or foals owned in partnership.

The Claude Brault Agency has been appointed to handle this sale. All questions are to be directed to Mr. Brault, who can be reached at 905 520-3941 or for more information.

Group Of Standardbred Breeders In Ontario Issue Statement Of Claim Against The Province Of Ontario and a Statement of Claim Against The OLG

On Wednesday, April 16, a group of Standardbred breeders from across the province issued a Statement Of Claim against the Province of Ontario and a Statement Of Claim against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for damages arising from the manner in which the Slots at Racetracks Program was cancelled.

To see the  Statement Of Claim Against The Province Of Ontario  Click here.

To see the Statement Of Claim Against The OLG Click here.

Walter Parkinson of Seelster Farms Reacts to $100 Million Announcement by Ontario for the Horse Racing Industry

April 8, 2014 – Kevin Bernard of Bayshore Broadcasting asked Walter Parkinson for his reaction to Ontario’s $100 million announcement for the horse racing industry.

To hear Walter’s reaction and read the entire story, click here.

Toronto Sun Article Describes Devastating Harm Caused to Breeders when Slots Revenue Sharing Partnership was Cancelled

April 8, 2014 – Bill Lankhof’s article in the Toronto Sun notes that the cancellation of the SARP “has come close to euthanizing the province’s breeding industry” and that “Breeders took the full frontal blow by the government decision.”

To read the entire article, click here.

London Equine Hospital Closing

April 4, 2014 – Dr. Bernd Kretzschmar of the London Equine Hospital announced that the popular southwestern Ontario facility will stop servicing horses, effective April 8, 2014.

He writes the following letter to his clients: “It is with a somewhat heavy heart that I have to announce that the Hospital will stop servicing horses in South-Western Ontario. Standardbred Racehorses comprised over 90% of our caseload. As a direct result of the cancellation of the Slots at Racetrack Program by the Ontario Liberal Government and the ensuing decimation of horses in our area has forced us to suspend our surgical and medical services in London Ontario.”

To read the entire letter, click here.

The Windsor Star Headline reads ‘Horse Racing Disappears In Essex County’

April 3, 2014 – The stalls are empty, training tracks are overgrown and abandoned paddocks are still full of equipment. They’re all relics of what was once a booming horse racing industry.

In her article, reporter Monica Wolfson interview Standardbred breeders Bob Ladouceur, owner of St. Lads Farm. Bob explains how his business as decimated by the government’s decision to terminate the slots revenue sharing partnership: “All the local customers in Essex and Kent counties didn’t want to breed a mare because they had no place to race the horse.”

To read the entire article click here. For the video shown on CTV Windsor, click here.

Mike Timpano Interviewed by CTV Barrie About Ontario’s Announcement of $100 Million for the Horse Racing Industry

March 31, 2014 – In a news story for CTV Barrie, Mike Timpano, a plaintiff in the Standardbred breeders’ lawsuit, was asked about the $100 million announced by Ontario for the horse racing industry, and what it means for breeders. “It may be helpful to the people still in it but what about the people who got destroyed over the past two years?” Timpano says.

To read the entire article and see the video of the interview, click here. asks its viewers to answer the question ” What are your thoughts about the Breeder’s Lawsuit?”

March 31, 2014 – In an article dated March 31, 2014, asks: “What are your thoughts about this controversial issue? Do you believe the OLG was within its rights to terminate the Slots at Racetracks program as they did? Or do you agree with the lawsuit, which describes the cancellation of the slots program as being “arbitrary, capricious, irrational” and demonstrating “bad faith by the OLG and Ontario”? Do you support Ontario’s Standardbred breeders in their $65 million lawsuit against the OLG?”

To see the entire article, click here.

Dr. Brett Anderson Tells ‘The Northumberland News’ how the Cancellation of SARP has Affected Standardbred Breeders in Ontario


March 21, 2014 – Dr. Brett Anderson from Port Hope, Ontario, says the horse breeding industry has been devastated.  A veterinarian and a horse breeder, he has joined a lawsuit by a group of Ontario Standardbred breeders seeking compensation from the OLG for lost revenue. At the height of his Standardbred breeding operation Dr. Anderson had more than 20 horses grazing on his farm. Now he has four horses.

To read the entire article from Northumberland News, click here.

Harold Howe Tells “No More Mister Nice Guy”

March 21, 2014 – Harold Howe explains how the Breeder’s lawsuit signals a serious shift in attitude for the Ontario Standardbred breeders. As Harold puts it, “The Ontario harness racing industry has finally announced a change of direction — no more Mister Nice Guy.” He continues, noting “This legal action is a long overdue step.”

To read the entire article, click here.

‘The Wellington Advertiser’ Interviews Breeders’ Lawyer, and Pat and Anna Meyers, about the Breeders’ Lawsuit

March 21, 2014- Kris Svela from ‘The Wellington Advertiser’ interviewed Ian Matthews, from the law firm representing the Standardbred breeders in their lawsuit against OLG.

Later in the article, Svela describes his  interview with  Pat and Anna Meyers from Emerald Ridge Farms in Guelph-Eramosa Township.

To see the entire article Click here. 

Harry Rutherford and Diane Ingham tell The Brantford Expositor what the Cancellation of the SARP Has Done to their Breeding Business

March 17, 2014- The Brantford Expositor has an article written by Michael-Allan Marion, about the Standardbred Breeder’s lawsuit. He interviews Harry Rutherford and Diane Ingham, from Mount Pleasant-area. They explain how the cancellation of the SARP has effected their breeding business.

To see the entire article, click here.

‘Better Farming’ Magazine interviews Tammy McNiven and Walter Parkinson

March 14, 2014 – Matt McIntosh from ‘Better Farming’ has written an article about the Ontario Standardbred horse breeders lawsuit. In the article, Mr. McIntosh interviews Tammy McNiven from Twinbrook Farms in Ingersol and Walter Parkinson from Seelster Farms in Lucan.

To read the entire article, click here.

Murray McConnell Interviewed By About Breeders’ Lawsuit


March 13, 2014 – Murray McConnell says neither he nor his fellow standardbred breeders wanted to end up in court, but they have no choice but to sue the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. over the way the slots revenue partnership program was cancelled.

“People cannot make a living at it,” said McConnell, who owns Casimir Farm in Hagar, west of Greater Sudbury. “It was a thriving industry in Northern Ontario.

To read the entire article, click here.

Randy Pettapiece, Horse Racing Critic for the PC Party, Comments On Breeders’ Lawsuit

March 12, 2014 – Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece and PC Caucus Critic for Rural Affairs and Horse Racing today issued a statement concerning the standardbred breeders’ lawsuit filed against Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. As Pettapiece notes, “[i]t is regrettable that standardbred breeders had to resort to legal action. This didn’t have to happen.

For the full statement, click here.

Walter Parkinson Discusses the Breeders’ Lawsuit with Harold Howe for “On The Edge” Radio Podcast


March 12, 2014 – To hear Walter’s complete interview for ‘On The Edge’ on March 12, 2014, click here.

John Snobelen, Former PC Cabinet Minister and Current Adviser to Premier Wynne, Announces Support for Thoroughbred and Quarterhorse Breeders

March 11, 2014 – In a letter issued to Premier Kathleen Wynne, John Snobelen announced support programs for thoroughbred and quarter-horse breeders via the Ontario Racing Commission. Standardbred breeders were not even mentioned in Snobelen’s letter.

To read the letter, click here.

CHCH News Interviews Guy Polillo about Changes in the Ontario Standardbred Breeding Industry since the Cancellation of SARP

March 11, 2014 – Scot Urquhart from CHCH news conducted an interview with standardbred breeder Guy Polillo. As Polillo explains in the interview, “We’re gonna trust the courts. Because we don’t trust the government. They don’t wanna negotiate. They don’t wanna do nothin.”

To see the CHCH interview and newscast, click here.

London Free Press Reports on Breeders’ $65-Million Lawsuit

March 11, 2014 – Kelly Pedro of The London Free Press explains how the horse racing industry was swept into uncertainty when then-Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced in March 2012 that the Province was ending the Slots at Racetracks revenue sharing partnership. SBOA President Walter Parkinson, of Seelster Farms, explains that by the government cancelling the slots revenue sharing in the way it did,  “a great deal of harm has been forced upon Standardbred breeders in the province as well as their employees and their communities.”

To read Kelly’s full story, click here.

NDP MPP Taras Natyshak Issues Statement about Breeders’ Lawsuit

March 11, 2014 –  The Ontario NDP’s horse racing critic, MPP Taras Natyshak, issued a statement regarding the Breeders’ lawsuit against the OLG. Natyshak writes that in cancelling the SARP in the manner it did, “the Liberal government chose a callous and short-sighted approach that negatively impacted the economy in rural Ontario and hurt horse people around the province.”

To read the statement, click here.

CTV News Interviews SBOA President Walter Parkinson, about Breeders’ Lawsuit

March 11, 2014 – CTV News reporter Cristina Howorun interviewed SBOA President Walter Parkinson, of Seelster Farms, about the Breeders’ lawsuit. In the interview, Walter explains how the cancellation of the slots revenue sharing partnership caused the number mares bred to fall from 4,000 to roughly 1,750.

To watch the CTV newscast, click here.

Ontario Standardbred Breeders Issue Notice of Action Against the OLG

March 10, 2014 – Standardbred breeders from across the province issued a Notice of Action today against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for damages arising out of the manner in which the Slots at Racetracks Program revenue sharing partnership was cancelled.

Breeders have tried for two years to get some form of fair compensation from the government of Ontario and OLG but both have refused to compensate standardbred breeders for any of their losses, even though they have paid over $80 million dollars in compensation to racetrack owners.

To see the complete Notice of Action, click here.

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