Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson visits the Chilliwack campus of University of the Fraser Valley Feb. 20

Universities don’t need lobbyists, minister says

Andrew Wilkinson lobbied on behalf of SFU in his lawyering days, but as advanced education minister he says he's available

When Andrew Wilkinson started the year in his new job as advanced education minister, he knew B.C. universities hired lobbyists to pitch expansion plans to government.

Wilkinson was one of those lobbyists in his role as a lawyer in private practice, before being elected MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena in 2013.

Under attack for the second day in question period at the B.C. legislature, Wilkinson said Tuesday the practice of universities hiring expensive consultants to speak to the government that funds and regulates them should come to an end.

“It’s been abundantly clear since I took this role that access to my ministry and to me is unlimited for all the institutions,” Wilkinson told the legislature. He said he will advise all B.C. post-secondary institutions that they don’t need lobbyists, but as independent institutions it will be up to them to decide.

On Monday, opposition critics produced records showing Kwantlen Polytechnic University had paid consultant Mark Jiles $177,000 for “relationship building” with the government over several years. Jiles also worked on executive compensation for Kwantlen, where school administrators were paid unreported bonuses that broke government salary caps.

That controversy led to Wilkinson switching cabinet jobs with Surrey-Tynehead MLA Amrik Virk, who was involved in the overpayments as a member of the Kwantlen board. The cabinet shuffle took place quietly in December, after emails surfaced that contradicted Virk’s claims he was not involved in the overpayments.

On Monday, NDP advanced education critic Kathy Corrigan described Jiles’ compensation as “$15,000 a handshake.” On Tuesday, NDP leader John Horgan went further.

“The $177,000 to Mr. Jiles translated into a $50,000 contribution to the B.C. Liberal Party from Mr. Jiles,” Horgan told the legislature. “The minister [Wilkinson] lobbied for Simon Fraser University. Is the minister okay with $50,000 coming from the public back to the B.C. Liberal Party?”

Corrigan said Tuesday a similar arrangement saw lobbyist and “Liberal insider” Don Stickney paid $75,000 by Vancouver Community College.

Wilkinson is a former president of the B.C. Liberal Party who served as deputy minister for economic development and intergovernmental relations with former premier Gordon Campbell.

 

Just Posted

Buddhist monument to be dedicated in Slocan cemetery

A new post has been created to mark the site where at least nine Japanese Canadians were cremated

Passenger counts still rising at West Kootenay Regional Airport

Reliability rates also on rise in second quarter.

Andrew Bellerby out as RDCK’s regional fire chief

Bellerby held the job since January 2016

Craft cannabis development planned for Castlegar

Plans are underway for one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.

Abra Brynne wins Kootenay-Columbia Green Party nomination

Brynne is one of three candidates who will challenge MP Wayne Stetski

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

Most Read