Only weeks ago, administrators of Montreal’s anglophone Dawson College were publicly wailing that the Quebec government was coldheartedly depriving them of $25 million needed to renovate the 7,000-student school. Dawson Director-General Robert Gordon even dared this accusation of discrimination: “We have a strong feeling that the hard-line Péquistes are asking, ‘Why build new facilities for an English college?’ ”
Why indeed? Last week, to Dawson College’s humiliation, the Parti Québécois government charged that Dawson administrators have bilked the Quebec taxpayer of “several million dollars” in undeserved grants, with some of the money paying for such perks as a $15,000 stereo set, a luxury penthouse apartment, a Laurentian hideaway and the support of a private, profit-making
language school operated by a senior Dawson administrator. Part of the fraud involves the claiming of provincial grants for “phantom students” who existed on college records but not in its classrooms.
Five of the community college’s employees were to be fired this week and Director-General Gordon, who alleged government discrimination against Dawson, was chastised by a committee of the school’s own board of directors for permitting the “mismanagement.”
Though a government inquiry will investigate all Dawson activities for abuse of public funds, the evidence so far uncovered involves its adult-education sector—financed by $5.4 million a year in provincial grants.
The person most entangled is Roger Evrard, director of Dawson’s Applied Linguistics Centre,which specializes in the teaching of French to Englishspeaking businessmen.
The linguistic centre leased quarters in a downtown luxury highrise apartment building, Le Maisonneuve III, at $4,000 a month, which included Evrard’s private use of a penthouse in the same building. Among the other apparent abuses discovered by Dawson’s own investigators was the purchase from public funds of a $15,000 stereo system for institute use, but which Evrard swapped with his own $500 home stereo system so that he could enjoy the better one, and the leasing to Dawson of a mountain chalet Evrard had himself rented at a lower rate. The worst accusations, however, involved the use of Dawson personnel and equipment free of charge by a quite separate language school run privately by Evrard which disappeared in May—at the same time as Evrard vanished too.
Gone, as well, are Dawson College’s hopes of attracting much public sympathy for its plea for yet more millions from the taxpayers’ pockets.
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