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McGuinty says he's listening to Ottawa NHL team's concerns over ending tax break

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe

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Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe

TORONTO - Premier Dalton McGuinty says he's willing to listen to organizations like the Ottawa Senators who are worried about Ontario scrapping a key tax break.

The Liberal government has said it wants to end a policy allowing businesses to write off as much as 50 per cent of tickets and luxury suites for sporting events.

But officials with Ottawa's NHL team say that could put the club out of business.

McGuinty says tough economic times mean choices have to be made but his government will listen to groups that could be affected by dropping the tax break.

The writeoff, which also applies to other live performances like theatre and concerts, costs the cash-strapped province about $15 million a year.

Senator's president Cyril Leeder says his team operates in a smaller market than other teams—such as the Toronto Maple Leafs—and it needs the corporate tax deduction to survive.

McGuinty said serious thought is needed to find solutions to the current period of "difficult economic challenge."

"We're listening very closely to organizations that could be affected by that kind of an initiative and we'll work our way through it," he said.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has sent a letter to his federal counterpart, Jim Flaherty, requesting co-operation on a list of proposed changes to the tax system.

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