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Paul Godfrey's OLG removal sign Liberal gaming plan 'off the rails,' Hudak says

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak talks to media Friday, May 17, 2013. (ANTONELLA ARTUSO/Toronto Sun)

Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak talks to media Friday, May 17, 2013. (ANTONELLA ARTUSO/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

The ham-fisted removal of Paul Godfrey from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is a sign that the provincial Liberal government and its gaming modernization plan is “off the rails,” PC Leader Tim Hudak says.

“We all know Paul Godfrey. He’s a man of integrity. He’s a respected public servant,” Hudak said Friday. “And when I see Mr. Godfrey tossed out of the board, the entire board of directors resign, this very much looks like a Liberal government that’s in disarray.”

Godfrey, who was asked by former premier Dalton McGuinty to serve as chair of the troubled OLG, was told Thursday by Finance Minister Charles Sousa that his services were no longer required.

Premier Kathleen Wynne did not agree with the OLG’s direction on the Toronto casino and horse racing.

Godfrey, who is also CEO and president of the National Post, first read in a competitor’s newspaper that his position was in jeopardy.

“The chemistry between Kathleen Wynne and Paul Godfrey just weren’t on the same plane,” Godfrey said Thursday, adding that she could have just called him directly.

The Ontario government says it is proceeding with the OLG modernization plan, developed under Godfrey, and that includes new casinos.

Although Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has swept a local casino off his agenda, the province is still interested in such a project if the municipality is on board.

Hudak said it will be difficult to attract investment to the province after Godfrey’s sudden firing.

Godfrey told reporters Thursday his every major move was supported by former finance minister Dwight Duncan and Ontario cabinet.

Hudak served as the minister responsible for the OLG, and he said major decisions have always needed cabinet blessing.

The Ontario Tories have not been without criticism of the gaming plan, though, coming to the defence of the downsized horse racing industry and insisting that all municipalities get the same hosting fee deal with no special cut for Toronto.

On Friday, the Liberal government released the new hosting formula for casinos, which it says will provide more funding to municipalities.

The new formula offers 5.25% on the first $65 million of slot revenue, 3% on the next $135 million of slot revenue, 2.5% on the next $300 million of slot revenue, 0.5% on slot revenue above $500 million and 4.% on table game revenue.

Toronto’s share, should it accept a casino, is estimated at $53.7 million a year.

The government says the new formula will apply to existing casinos at Niagara Falls and Windsor.

Poll

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