Ford-appointed Toronto Public Library Board member meets with library privatization lobbyist in apparent violation of lobbying regulations

TORONTO, Nov. 29, 2011 /CNW/ - Newly-appointed Toronto Public Library Board member Ross Parry was photographed today having lunch at City Hall with Paul Christie, a registered lobbyist for Library Systems and Services (LSSI), is an American company specializing in library services privatization.

A search on the City's online Lobbyist Registry shows no registration by Paul Christie that he intended to meet with Mr. Parry, who recently voted to cut at least 100 full-time library staff positions and significantly reduce the library collections budget for 2012.

According to the City of Toronto website page of the Office of the Lobbyist Registrar: "As a lobbyist, you must register yourself and the subject matter you intend to discuss before communicating with a public office holder about the subject matter."

Mr. Parry served as a spokesman for Mr. Christie when Christie was appointed in 2002 by the Ernie Eves Conservative provincial government as the Superintendant of the Toronto District School Board. The government had stripped the elected school board trustees of their powers and sent Christie in to cut $90 million from the Board's budget. Christie was paid a reported $180,000 for his stint as a so-called "education czar." Parry was also paid out of public funds but there is no record of the amount.

"Are we to believe that these two old chums at the public trough did not discuss their current assignments?" asked Maureen O'Reilly, President of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union.

"Mr. Parry was sent to the Library Board by Mayor Ford to slash its budget; Mr. Christie is being paid by an American company to promote Toronto library privatization. They can protest all they want, no one would believe that they didn't talk about this. There is too much at stake for both of them."

According to public records, both Parry and Christie were donors to Rob Ford's mayoralty campaign.

O'Reilly said she will be lodging a complaint against Christie with the Lobbyist Registrar and will be asking Library Board Chair Paul Ainslie to demand an explanation of the meeting from Mr. Parry.

"We will also be asking the Library Board to tell LSSI that they are wasting their time trying to privatize Toronto library functions. If they refuse to do so, we'll then know what the real agenda of this Ford Board is."

The picture of Parry and Christie at lunch is available to journalists by email on request.

SOURCE Toronto Public Library Workers Union

For further information:

Maureen O'Reilly, 647-206-7457

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