CARDINAL COLLINS: NEW CASINO PUTS ONTARIO ON THE WRONG TRACK
By: Susanna Kelley
One of Canada's highest ranking religious leaders says the McGuinty government is on the wrong track by depending on a new casino for revenues.
Pope Benedict XVI and
Cardinal Thomas Collins.
"I have real concerns about opening more casinos, or expanding other forms of gambling," said Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto.
Collins recently was appointed to the College of Cardinals, the highest rank of the priesthood other than that of Pope.
As a leader of Ontario's 4 million Catholics, Cardinal Collins is worried the government's recently announced plan to build another casino in the Greater Toronto Area could harm families and individuals.
"Some forms of small scale gambling can be a form of entertainment...But much gambling, especially large-scale gambling, is not simply a form of social entertainment."
"Gambling can be extremely addictive for some individuals, with grave consequences."
Problem gamblers can squander money that families need just to survive, he noted.
"Gambling can deprive families of the money y needs to survive, but it can also deprive families of the presence of a member, perhaps a parent. Something based on illusion is not likely to be of any real benefit and is quite likely to be a source of grief," said the Cardinal.
Furthermore, depending on gambling to provide government revenues can't be justified because some of that money is given to charities, said Cardinal Collins.
"We have to look honestly at where our revenue is coming from, and if there is a danger that we are contributing to the harm of individuals or families, we must not engage in such activities, even in the name of charity," he said.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), backed by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, recently announced it plans to build another casino, this time in the Greater Toronto area. It wants to expand the availability of lottery tickets and slot machines as well.
The OLG says more than 6,000 jobs and $1.3 billion can be raised with the new gaming endeavors by the province.
However, the government is also running into opposition from municipal councilors in Toronto, despite the fact that Mayor Ford supports building a casino in Canada's largest city.
Toronto city council will debate a motion at its next meeting that would bind it to the results of a 1997 referendum on the issue, unless another referendum were held. In the 1997 plebiscite, 72 per cent of the voters opposed a casino for Canada's largest city.
Dalton McGuinty's minority Liberal government is trying to eliminate a $16 billion deficit by 2017-18. Much of that was run up battling the 2008-09 recession, either in efforts to retain jobs or to pay for increased social services.
You can find Susanna here: @susannakelley