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BC won't follow Ontario's ban on taxpayer funded lobbyists

In a crack down on spending abuses, Ontario is moving to bar public institutions from spending taxpayers' money hiring lobbyists.

But the government in British Columbia—where even a Crown corporation hired a lobbyist to talk to the government—has no plans to follow Ontario's lead, a spokesperson said.

The Ontario move followed a report by the province's auditor general Jim McCarter released today that found eight of 16 hospitals checked had hired lobbyists “to cajole the government for more cash,” the Toronto Star reported.

The province's health minister, Deb Matthews, responded by announcing publicly funded institutions—including hospitals, health networks, universities, school boards and government agencies—will be barred from using taxpayer dollars to hire lobbyists.

The Tyee reported in Sept. 2009 that Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, B.C. Institute of Technology and Okanagan University College had all hired lobbyists to represent their interests in Victoria.

So had the B.C. Innovation Council, a Crown corporation owned by the B.C. government.

A spokesperson for the ministry of the attorney general said the B.C. government is aware of the move in Ontario but has no plans to do anything similar at this time.

Update, 5:15 p.m.: Public Eye's Sean Holman points out that this year's letters of expectations between the province and B.C. Crown corporations included a directive not to hire lobbyists to deal with the provincial government.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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