Photos have surfaced showing Premier Doug Ford with Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) executive Edmund Sofo at an Ontario Progressive Conservatives Youth barbecue that Ford hosted at his home in August. This comes less than a day after the premier criticized the RSU for unexplained credit card purchases allegedly totalling $250,000, an issue first reported by The Eyeopener.
Ford levelled his criticisms in the wake of his government’s recently announced changes to postsecondary education, which includes an upheaval of the incidental fees framework to implement an opt-out option for student fees that are currently mandatory. Student unions such as the RSU are at risk of having their fees become opt-out.
After The Eyeopener revealed the controversial credit card statements on January 24, Ford tweeted in response that this was why he was “giving students the power to choose to pay for the campus services they actually use,” as opposed to paying for fees that are “wasted and abused.”
I've heard from so many students who are tired of paying excessive fees, only to see them wasted and abused.
That's why we're giving students the power to choose to pay for the campus services they actually use.https://t.co/XYC8G4jaZ0
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) January 26, 2019
On Friday, Sofo abstained from voting in a motion to suspend RSU’s president and vice-president operations following the controversy over finances, as reported by The Eyeopener.
The barbecue at Ford’s home was also attended by Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton and U of T professor Jordan Peterson.
Fullerton’s office is in charge of making the policies around the recent announcements, which also include a 10 per cent cut to tuition and cuts the Ontario Student Assistance Program.
Peterson has attracted controversy over the years for his stances on free speech and his opposition to respecting preferred gender pronouns.