The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is in enough trouble with little to no disclosure of insider wins as well as other questions about how it manages its operations. Now we learn of another major gaffe, and certainly one of the right hand not knowing what the left was doing.
Although GM and Chrysler are before the federal and Ontario governments asking, as they have in the States, for billions in loan guarantees, the OLG decided to hold a contest the casinos and racetracks -- and the grand prize at each is a Mercedes Benz B200 fastback.
Forget the fact that the steel does come from Hamilton (the Dofasco division of Arcelor-Mittal) and that it is assembled in Alabama. The notion of a German car being offered to players, many of whom may be auto parts or assembly line workers and who been laid off by the current recession, is really quite the insult. People in the plants remaining open must be asking questions too. Why not one of their cars? If the government had to insist on "foreign," why not one of the Suzukis made in Ingersoll, a Toyota in Woodstock or Cambridge, or a Honda in Aliston? Keep in mind many of those plants also rely on steel from either Dofasco or Stelco (US Steel), the latter of which is about to be on indefinite shutdown.
George Smitherman, the minister responsible, should resign. It's just not acceptable, not at a time like this. We should be employing the maximum number of Ontarians right now, not subsidizing Alabama (not that I have anything against people from that state personally).
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The point of Lotteries is to make money for the government. If you ran 2 lotteries, 1 with the Mercedes, and another with an equal priced Ford, GM, or Chrysler vehicle, and sold the tickets side by side which lottery would be the better seller?
Of course the one with the Mercedes. At equal dollar value the Mercedes will always be a better vehicle choice than one of the big 3.
The faux outrage over this is laughable.
If this just was a one time faux pas from the OLG, I'd probably let it pass myself. Sure, most people would prefer the Benz to, say, a Cadillac or Lincoln. Honestly, I know I would.
But this is a group that has screwed things up for the last few years with uncommon regularity -- the insider gaming was one thing, which isn't just exclusive to Ontario, I've heard stories from the WCLC which offers games where you are.
But spending $2 million to drop the "C" from OLGC was another thing that stuck in a lot of people's craws. So was building an opulent Monte Carlo style casino in Niagara Falls when a well designed but practical "temporary" facility (which became permanent anyway) was just fine as it was; the "new" place is barely making its mortgage payments the last I heard, and the Rodeo Drive boutiques in there are suffering like most businesses are.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of a bigger problem -- and for what it's worth it's not the choice of cars, it's the timing.
I should also add that the Toyota plants in Cambridge, both of them, have converted to exclusively Lexus production ... and Lexus does pretty well against MB in performance tests. That would have been a great branding opportunity too -- "This Lexus donated by the OLG."
When I first heard about this fiasco the first thought that popped into my head was "They're putting in cars that people actually want to win".
Then again, it would be another nail in the coffin for GM or whoever when the OLG says - look, we can't even give these things away!
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