Volume 93, Issue 73

Wednesday, February 9, 2000


Public library moves to mall

New degrees fall under community microscope

Gay meds face classroom barriers

No cheering as hackers shut down internet search engine

HRDC grant money questioned


Back Asswards

Caught on campus

HRDC grant money questioned

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

The federal Liberals were under fire from opposition parties this week, for what has been called sloppy and irresponsible management of its grant programs.

The political attacks, directed towards Human Resources Development Minister Jane Stewart are based on a Human Resources Development Canada audit of 459 of its grant projects.

The audit raised many eyebrows in Ottawa, as it indicated that administrators failed to account for $1 billion in HRDC grant money for job creation, job training, disabled people and aboriginals.

John Earnshaw, legislative assistant to Maurice Velacott, Reform Member of Parliament and deputy critic of the HRDC, said the federal Liberals have demonstrated a lack of bureaucratic competence. "Mismanagement, misinformation and lack of organization are going to be found throughout the system," he said.

The HRDC was unavailable for comment.

Of the many federal grant projects which have come under the microscope following last month's audit, a McGill University science exchange program which draws from eight Canadian universities, has been forced to defend itself this week. The project received $160,000 in HRDC grant funds, when the university had initially asked for much less, said Kate Williams, a spokesperson for McGill.

"We submitted a proposal for $60,000 to promote this idea. We were told this was such a great program that it qualified for a contribution agreement and that we could get up to $160,000."

Williams added the exchange program began in 1997 and was expected to run for three years, but has now been extended for at least another year.

She also said the operation has faced periodical HRDC audits. "They regularly audit us. They came to audit us last spring. They were told if they wanted original documentation they could have it from accounting, but they said, 'No, it's fine.'"

Williams asserted the project had its finances in order and possessed all the documentation to prove the grant money had been responsibly spent. "This is a great project," she said, "And if it weren't for all the negative peripheral issues, we'd be very happy with the scrutiny it's getting."

Sid Noel, professor of political science at Western, partially dismissed the grant money controversy as the product of media exaggeration. "It's a rather slow news time right now," he said. "No one will remember this in six months."

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Copyright The Gazette 2000