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Ontario lottery corporation’s plans to be reviewed, frustrated Premier says

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa is congratulated by Premier Kathleen Wynne after tabling the provincial budget on May 2, 2013.

MOE DOIRON/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says her government is launching a review of all aspects of the provincial lottery corporation's modernization plans.

But she sidestepped questions on Monday about Paul Godfrey's future as chairman of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. while at the same time expressing frustration about his stewardship.

Ms. Wynne was responding on Monday to a Globe and Mail report that officials in her office have compiled a shortlist of candidates to succeed Mr. Godfrey at the OLG.

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When asked about the list, Ms. Wynne said she is reviewing "all of the issues" around the modernization strategy.

"I want to make sure that we get this right," she told reporters at the University of Ottawa.

The Globe has made several attempts to reach Mr. Godfrey.

"Any questions about Mr. Godfrey's term or appointment as OLG chair should be directed to the Office of the Minister of Finance," Tony Bitonti, a spokesman for the agency, said in an e-mail on Monday.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa hinted that Mr. Godfrey could step down before his five-year term expires in February, 2015.

"Let me be clear. I haven't made any decisions and I've made no shortlist," he told reporters on Monday.

The OLG reports to Mr. Sousa, but the Premier's Office is handling the file, sources close to the government say.

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The OLG's privatization and expansion strategy, including building a casino in downtown Toronto, was endorsed by former premier Dalton McGuinty's government.

Mr. Godfrey was hand-picked by former finance minister Dwight Duncan in 2010 to overhaul an agency plagued with problems and generate more revenue for the cash-strapped province.

But Mr. Godfrey has run afoul of the new government over key aspects of the overhaul.

"There have been questions for some time," Ms. Wynne said, "and this has to do with us getting it right and making sure that we have a fair and functioning and very effective OLG in place."

Ms. Wynne has ordered the Crown agency to drop plans to cut Toronto a special financial deal if city councillors approve a casino.

And she has undercut Mr. Godfrey's authority over the horse-racing industry. As first reported in The Globe, she announced on Monday that she has resurrected a panel of former cabinet ministers to take the lead on developing a plan to integrate horse racing with a modernized gambling sector.

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The McGuinty government scrapped the slots-at-racetrack funding program, which ignited a furor against the Liberals in rural Ontario.

"I don't believe that we did get the horse racing initiative right," Ms. Wynne said. "The horse racing industry is extremely important in terms of jobs across the province. ... It needs to be sustainable, but we need to get it right."

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About the Authors

Karen Howlett is a national reporter based in Toronto. She returned to the newsroom in 2013 after covering Ontario politics at The Globe’s Queen’s Park bureau for seven years. Prior to that, she worked in the paper’s Vancouver bureau and in The Report on Business, where she covered a variety of beats, including financial services and securities regulation. More

National news reporter

Renata joined The Globe and Mail's Toronto newsroom in March of 2011. Raised in the Greater Toronto Area, Renata spent nine years reporting in Alberta for the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal, covering crime, environment and political affairs. More

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