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Fort Erie racetrack announces 2014 season days before byelection in area

TORONTO - Days before a provincial byelection in Niagara Falls, Ontario's Liberal government has struck a deal to ensure there will be horse racing this year at the Fort Erie race track, a major employer in the riding.

The Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association announced there will be live thoroughbred racing at Fort Erie in 2014, although there's no word yet on the number of race days.

Former Conservative cabinet minister John Snobelen, Premier Kathleen Wynne's adviser on horse racing, says a race calendar will be released by the end of February.

Critics had warned the Liberal's decision to cut the $340-million annual share of slot machine revenues to race tracks would be the death knell for Fort Erie, but last fall the government came up with $400 million over five years to shore up the industry.

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says it's clear the timing of the Fort Erie announcement is tied to next Thursday's byelections in Niagara Falls and the north Toronto riding of Thornhill.

Hudak says Wynne is playing the same byelection games as her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, handing over government money to advance Liberal interests.

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