The Canadian Federation of Students-Quebec (CFS-Q) is asking a member of the Board of Governors (BoG) to resign because of alleged connections to the current sponsorship controversy plaguing the federal government.
John Parisella, former aide to Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa, is the president of the public relations company BCP, which has recently come under fire for advertising contracts it received.
The report by Auditor General Sheila Fraser on the federal sponsorship scandal states, “In our opinion, advertising contracts were awarded to BCP on a sole-source basis. Other potential suppliers were never given the opportunity to compete for the $65.7 million in contracts.” The BCP received the contracts through a Public Works Department selection process for Tourism Canada.
The CFS-Q is circulating a petition called “John Parisella out, Yves Jaggi and Laith back in.”
It refers to Concordia students Yves Engler and Laith, Marouf, as well as activist Jaggi Singh, who were all banned from Concordia after the Benjamin Netanyahu protest last school year.
“It’s to call a bit of attention of the hypocrisy of the administration,” said CFS-Q secretary treasurer Tim McSorley, “in that we have somebody who’s involved in the scandals of the federal government and they refuse to even question the fact that there’s a remote possibility that he’s involved.
“And, yet, at the same time there’s two students and one well-known activist who are banned from Concordia on fairly dubious grounds.”
Last Friday, the administration reaffirmed its support of Parisella and said his integrity and professionalism are beyond question.
“The university is standing by him,” said Chris Mota, media relations co-ordinator.
In addition to the resignation of Parisella, the CFS-Q wants the university to review the cases of the three people banned “and say that these are people who should be coming to Concordia as students,” according to McSorley.
Parisella has denied any allegations of wrongdoing. The BCP points out that Parisella became president of the company in 1999, five years after the tourism contract was awarded. However, he began working there in 1996.
“Although the contracts were signed, dated, from before then, the money wasn’t given all in one shot,” said McSorley.
“He’s still president of this company that’s involved in this so we still see him as being somehow involved in it.”
The BCP claims that it only participated in the contract for one year and only managed about 25 per cent of it. Most of the tourism contract was awarded to Vickers and Benson in Toronto.
“Mr. Parisella’s and BCP’s reputation, rigour and integrity have been beyond reproach for 40 years. It is therefore hardly credible that anyone would make such biased, gratuitous inferences in an attempt to cast doubt on both BCP’s and Mr. Parisella’s honour,” said the BCP.
“This is not something that is going to end today,” said McSorley.
The CFS-Q will follow-up on the case and continue to try and get a review of the expulsions.
The petition is available at Le Frigo Vert on 2130 Mackay St.