The applicant, an owner of thoroughbred racehorses, had his horseracing and stabling privileges at the Woodbine racetrack revoked by the respondent, Woodbine Entertainment Group (“WEG”) following a training incident in which a horse suffered catastrophic injuries to his front leg and was ultimately euthanized. The applicant appealed his suspension to the respondent, Ontario Racing Commission (“ORC”), and requested that they intervene and restore his privileges. The ORC determined that, while it had the jurisdiction to hear the matter insofar as it related to the good of horseracing and involved the public interest, the applicant had not made out a basis for the ORC to intervene in WEG’s decision.

23. August 2011 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Horse Racing – Public interest – Judicial review – Parties – Jurisdiction – Intervenor status – Procedural requirements and fairness – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Schickedanz v. Ontario (Racing Commission), [2011] O.J. No. 3262, 2011 ONSC 4271, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, July 12, 2011, P.A. Cumming, J.L. Lax and K.E. Swinton JJ.,

The applicant applied for judicial review of the decision, challenging it on the grounds that the ORC lacked jurisdiction or had engaged in procedural unfairness, and further that the decision was unreasonable.

On the issues of jurisdiction and procedural fairness, the Court, applying a standard of reasonableness and with reference to the Racing Commission Act, held that WEG, as a private property owner, was within its private property and contractual rights to exclude the applicant from its premises. Under the cited legislation, the ORC has jurisdiction to interfere with WEG’s rights only if the matter relates to the “good of horseracing generally” per the decision in Ontario Harness Horse Association v. Ontario (Racing Commission), 2002 CanLII 41981. The ORC was therefore within its jurisdiction when it concluded that the applicant had breached WEG’s rules. Further, as the ORC was a neutral arbiter between WEG and the applicant, its task was to determine whether WEG’s decision accorded with the public interest. The ORC held that it did only after reviewing the evidence of numerous witnesses, and as such the Court dismissed the applicant’s complaint that he was not afforded procedural fairness.

On the issue of reasonableness, the Court held that the ORC’s detailed and intelligible reasons for its decision indicated that it was not unreasonable for the ORC to conclude that the applicant’s conduct was inappropriate and that the public interest did not warrant interference with WEG’s decision. The Court therefore concluded that the applicant had not discharged his burden and the application for judicial review was dismissed.

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