Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Moridi Says Ontario Government Approved Two Male-Only Campuses in Saudi Arabia

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Moridi Says Ontario Government Approved Two Male-Only Campuses in Saudi Arabia

Article excerpt

Ontario government approved Saudi campuses


TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government said Monday it had allowed two colleges to create male-only campuses in Saudi Arabia, but added that a gap found in the approval process will be closed.

Reza Moridi, minister of colleges and universities, said Niagara and Algonquin Colleges applied to his ministry to establish the two Saudi campuses, and were given the green light by a previous minister in 2008 and 2012.

However, Moridi said the province's responsibility was to approve financial plans for the two Saudi expansions and it was up to the colleges to determine who was admitted.

"We see there is a gap in the process between the parts that are left for the boards of governors at the colleges to approve and the other parts that are on the government's side to approve," he said.

"We want to talk with the sector to make sure that gap is eliminated."

John Milloy, Moridi's predecessor as minister of training, colleges and universities when Algonquin and Niagara applied to open their Saudi campuses, said he doesn't remember any discussions about them excluding women from classes.

"I do not ever recall any talk of a male-only campus," Milloy, now an assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said in an email to The Canadian Press.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Friday she'd just learned that the Saudi campuses of the two Ontario colleges did not admit women, a situation she called "unacceptable.

The opposition parties called it a "stretch" for Wynne to say she didn't know that Algonquin and Niagara were operating male-only Saudi campuses.

"She was part of the cabinet all those years and premier for three years, and that this is news (to the premier) is really quite disconcerting," said NDP post-secondary critic Peggy Sattler. "If they didn't know, why not?"

Approving the Saudi campuses without knowing they would be male-only shows how poor a job the Liberals do of managing taxpayers' money, said Progressive Conservative women's issues critic Laurie Scott.

"A gap in the process is kind of weak. It's the total lack of oversight by the government," said Scott. "Where's the accountability?"

Algonquin lost a bid to establish a women's college in Saudi Arabia -- where Shariah law forbids educating men and women in the same class -- and questioned Wynne's criticism of its male-only campus in the city of Jazan. …

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