On Campus

Spending public funds on lobbyists

Ontario NDP says universities spent nearly $1 million on lobbying

After taking aim at hospital lobbyists, Ontario’s New Democrats are now zeroing in on hired guns paid by the province’s universities and colleges. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is demanding to know why nine colleges and universities have been spending close to $1 million on lobbyists to influence the government.

They include Laurentian University, which had a contract worth $102,000, and Toronto’s York University, which had three contracts totalling close to $500,000. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology also has a lobbyist contract worth up to $130,000, according to documents obtained by the NDP under freedom-of-information laws.

“Something is very, very wrong here,” Horwath said in the provincial legislature. “Ontario students pay the highest tuition fees in the entire country. Why are universities spending that money on high-priced, well-connected, insider lobbyists?”

Colleges and Universities Minister John Milloy said the schools have no reason to hire lobbyists and that spending public funds on lobbyists is not acceptable. “There’s no need for them to be spending public money on lobbyists and my ministry will be working to make sure that message is sent loud and clear to the college sector,” Milloy said.

The revelations came a day after the NDP disclosed that 14 hospitals had hired lobbyists — a practice Premier Dalton McGuinty quickly condemned.

The Canadian Press

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