Ontario Civil

Administrative Law

Application for licence was condition precedent to granting of licence

Applicants sought judicial review of respondent commission’s decision requiring that they be licensed. Commission regulated all forms of horseracing that took place in Ontario. Applicants were associations who represented horse people in Ontario. On behalf of members, associations engaged in negotiations with race tracks for scheduling of racing and distribution of revenues earned from wagering. Members held licences from commission. Racetracks were licensed by commission. Commission made ruling that associations also had to be licensed. Ruling ordered that associations were licensed even though they had not applied for licence. Petition granted in part. Standard of review was reasonableness. Section 7(c) of Racing Commission Act, 2000 (Ont.), empowered commission to require licensing of horse peoples’ associations. Purposive interpretation of powers of commission supported broad understanding of s. 7(d) of Act. Associations’ business was to represent horse people in dealings with racetracks concerning horseracing. Associations were very involved with horseracing from functional perspective. Considering associations to be “any other person in or about race track” in context of defining breadth of commission’s mandate was reasonable. However, commission’s decision to licence associations notwithstanding fact that they had not applied for licence was unreasonable. Application for licence was condition precedent to granting of licence. Ruling that unilaterally imposed licences and related requirements on associations was quashed. Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations (Can.), contemplated imposition of some conditions on racing participants. Commission did not exceed jurisdiction in enacting contracting rules and directives regarding agreements with race tracks and enactment was reasonable. Commission did not infringe collective bargaining rights of associations under s. 2(d) of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There was no evidence of interference with associations’ ability to organize or negotiate on behalf of members or that commission’s rules would permit racetracks to avoid contractual obligations to associations. Commission’s decision to require licensing was policy decision and it owed minimal duty of procedural fairness to associations. Commission met minimal duty of procedural fairness. Ontario Harness Horse Assn. v. Ontario Racing Commission (June 12, 2012, Ont. S.C.J. (Div. Ct.), Aston, Murray and Harvison Young JJ., File No. 36/12) 218 A.C.W.S. (3d) 239 (21 pp.).

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