Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Bruce McCuaig, CEO of Metrolinx, signs one of the tunnel-boring machines in Toronto, Ont. Wednesday, June 5, 2013. Metrolinx used public funds to pay for a sponsorship deal with the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, The Toronto Sun discovered.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Ontario's New Democrats are crying foul after provincial transit agency Metrolinx used public funds to pay for a sponsorship deal with the Toronto International Film Festival and employees received discounted tickets to a football game as part of a promotion.

The NDP on Monday asked the auditor-general to investigate the practice, which Trinity-Spadina MPP Rosario Marchese dubbed "a problem."

"Why do they need to be involved in any sponsorship programs at all?" Mr. Marchese said. "The public, when it looks at this and sees it, says: 'I don't get it. I ain't going to see this football game, somebody else is and what's the purpose of this?'"

Story continues below advertisement

The sponsorships were arranged two years ago but only came to light this weekend when the Toronto Sun obtained internal Metrolinx documents through an access to information request.

In one case, Metrolinx put up $30,000 of public money for TIFF in 2011 in exchange for the opportunity to advertise to film-goers, the newspaper reported. The agency also received free tickets.

"This [money] effectively purchased VIP tickets to TIFF events for Metrolinx staff," Mr. Marchese wrote in his letter to the auditor-general. "It is unclear what benefit Ontarians derived from having Metrolinx staff attend Film Festival events at this cost. Metrolinx apparently failed to track how these tickets were used."

That same year, as part of a promotional partnership with the Rogers Centre, Metrolinx was given a pile of tickets to the Bills in Toronto – a game between the National Football League's Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins. The tickets ordinarily sell for $225, but Metrolinx employees were able to buy them for just $25.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne-Marie Aikins said that GO Transit, a division of the agency, has had promotional deals with various organizations – including the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Canadian National Exhibition – since the early 1990s. The purpose of all these deals, she said, is to attract new riders.

The TIFF sponsorship, she said, was the only one on which Metrolinx has spent money.

She also said the agency has put in place stricter rules around promotions since 2011. Any free tickets the agency now receives are no longer used by Metrolinx staff.

Story continues below advertisement

"When it was brought to the attention of the CEO in 2011 that event tickets were not being clearly managed or tracked, new rules were implemented across the organization to ensure greater accountability in the management of our promotional partnership program," she wrote. "Since 2011, tickets are declined, not used, donated to charity or used to raise funds for charity, and tickets are tracked."

It was not immediately clear whether the auditor-general would investigate.

In an email, spokeswoman Christine Pedias said that when issues are raised with his office "we do consider the information when planning our future value-for-money audits for our Annual Report."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies