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

UPDATED: Man arrested on Richmond Avenue after standoff with police following ‘serious assault’

Police were called early Sunday morning following an assault in the building

VRBA warns Saanich of negative consequences if new DCC bylaw approved

Builders association says the cost of increasing DCCs will be borne by consumers

Victoria harpist releases ‘old school’ jazz album, makes singing debut

Musician ‘blown away’ by reactions to her seventh album Songs From the Harp

Victoria’s Christmas bird count set to take flight

More volunteers needed on the West Shore for Dec. 14 count

WestShore Skatepark Coalition faces uphill battle as costs jump $166,000

‘It feels like a David and Goliath situation,’ says coalition member

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Most Read