Sudbury city council calls on province to intervene in Laurentian crisis
SUDBURY -- Sudbury city council is once again looking to the province for answers and action over the insolvency crisis at Laurentian University.
Tuesday night, council passed a motion that calls on the Ontario government to intervene and provide the school with the funding it needs to be viable.
The motion was put forward by Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh and Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier.
"There isn't a lot that we can do as a municipality, we don't control the university or the province other than advocacy ... that's what we have in our toolbox," said McIntosh.
"I was speaking with someone on Monday who said 'my voice doesn't matter, you're more influential than I am.' I thought OK, I am but council is more influential than just me and that really provided an impetus to speak."
Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti voiced concerns for the small business community who won't be paid now as a result of Laurentian's creditor protection.
The motion passed unanimously and will now be sent to the city's two NDP MPPs, Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano.
It's council's second kick at the can at trying to get answers from the province over what's happening and what's in store for Laurentian.
When pressed about it by a resident over Twitter, Cormier tweeted:
"Previous was a letter sent that I don't think was answered. This motion is designed to keep pressure on the (government) as we go forward. Trying to keep the advocacy and pressure on as best we can."
"I have not personally seen any response back from that letter that we sent in March," said McIntosh.
CTV News asked the minister about it in his third news conference in as many days. Wednesday's subject was PSWs.
Romano was asked about his reaction to council's motion and what his ministry is or isn't doing to keep municipal politicians up to date.
"There's certain elements of the CCAA process that I can't get into and will not get into because that is a court process that needs to be allowed to carry on," he said. "When you referenced the municipal representatives, I will indicate that I have spoken on a number of occasions over the last several weeks now with Mayor Brian Bigger of Sudbury. He and I have chatted and he did give me a heads up that this was happening in council yesterday."
The minister and Sault Ste. Marie MPP says his heart goes out to Sudbury and he recognizes the challenges this brings for the sector as a whole.
He also referenced Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre by name, saying during his speech to the House of Commons, Lefebvre admitted it would be irresponsible to stop or interfere in the court process.
Lefebvre is in the middle of getting a private member's bill through the House of Commons that would prevent future institutions from seeking creditor status and allowing Laurentian to become a precedent.
"We are living through a stressful time that should not be happening, if the provinces would take their responsibility and jurisdictions seriously," Lefebvre said during the emergency debate.
Romano was asked if Ontario is living up to its jurisdiction and he didn't appear to understand the question.
"There is no jurisdiction to assume, perhaps you should have that conversation with Mr. Lefebvre again. He said it best and I will quote the Sudbury MP who said 'this is a court process and it's not for the government to get involved," he said.
“As frustrating as it is, this court proceeding cannot be stopped. No politician can intervene in an independent court process, even though some have been led to believe that they can.”
Romano reiterated the government will continue to be there for Laurentian and the community once the CCAA process is finished.
"We understand that we can't know what's going on but we need to be, I think, people need to be reassured and we need to be able to communicate information out to our community and that's what we were trying to do last night," McIntosh told CTV News.
It may be some time before the community will get those answers. Laurentian plans to ask for an extension of its creditor protection until the end of August.