SFU director used expense account for B.C. Liberal fundraisers

By Benedict Reiners

Payments include $1,000 for tickets to fundraiser for Liberal MLA Harry Bloy

Recently, the Vancouver Sun reported that SFU’s director of government relations, Wilf Hurd, has charged donations to the Liberal Party of B.C. to his university expense account.

Although the amount charged to the SFU account over Hurd’s time as director of government relations is not known, The Sun has determined that between early January and late February of this year, he billed the university for a reported $2,045 for provincial Liberal fundraisers.

Prior to receiving the position of director of government relations, Hurd was an MLA for the B.C. Liberals between 1991 and 1997. During that time, he served as opposition critic of both education and advanced education. In 1997, he stepped down from his position as MLA to run for the Liberal Party of Canada in the then upcoming federal election, which he eventually lost. In 2002, he was given the position at SFU.

Although Hurd could not be reached for comment, Don      MacLachlan, university spokesman for SFU, stated that although there has been no previous policy against actions like those of Hurd, change is imminent, telling Sun reporters, “Let me be clear, the practice is not going to continue.”

However, evidence suggests the fact that the practices of Hurd were previously known to university officials, as Hurd had attached information on the events which he was billing to the university, as well as copies of the cheques naming the B.C. Liberals as the recipients in the paperwork required to claim the funds from the expense account. To this, MacLachlan told The Sun, “For many years we have attended events of both parties, NDP and Liberal, to further the university’s interests,” playing down the partisan nature of the donations. However, B.C. NDP caucus chair Shane Simpson, has stated that, after taking a close look at party records, they have found no evidence of such donations to their party.

The B.C. Liberal Party seemed less aware of the practice than the university. In response to the news, the party has confirmed that it will be returning the funds received in 2012 to SFU. In addition to this, they stated that they would begin to determine how much was given in previous years, in order to return that to the university as well. Echoing this statement, executive director of the B.C. Liberals Chad Pederson told reporters, “We don’t accept contributions from public entities.”