Rock to Road

News
Politics & Construction


December 11, 2009
By Andy Bateman

December 11, 2009 – The Globe &
Mail reported yesterday that “t
he lion's share of construction
contracts awarded without public tenders since last April by the Ministry of
Transportation have gone to donors of the Quebec Liberal Party, according to
figures compiled by the Action Démocratique du Québec party.

The ADQ also found that most of the contracts awarded without
public tenders during the first six months of 2009, which were worth
$240-million, violated government regulations and procedures.

The ADQ cross-tabulated the names of owners and shareholders of
construction companies with those of Quebec Liberal party donors. Since 2000,
the owners and shareholders of 55 construction companies and engineering firms
had donated close to $1-million to the Quebec Liberal Party. These same
companies received $150-million worth of government contracts without public
tenders over the past six months compared to $40-million in construction
contracts to the companies of owners and shareholders who had not donated to
Liberal coffers.

In one instance a consortium involving the engineering and project
management firms CIMA+ and BPR Inc. received a $6.6-million contract without
public tenders last August. According to ADQ's compilation, seven of CIMA+
administrators and management personnel donated $92,735 to the Quebec Liberal
Party since 2000. BPR Inc. management and administrators donated $86,315 to the
Liberals during the same period.

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All donations were legal and appeared to comply with the province's
Election Law, which restricts individual contributions to a political party to
$3,000 per year. The law also prohibits legal entities from making
contributions.

Rules adopted in 2005 by the Treasury Board allow for contracts to
be awarded without public tenders, but only under specific conditions including
emergency situations or when there is no competition and only one possible
bidder, especially in remote regions. Public tenders are required for all
contracts worth more than $100,000. Contracts worth more than $25,000 can be
tendered to contractors through invitation only.

According to figures obtained by the ADQ, 459 out of 559 Ministry
of Transportation contracts awarded without public tenders since April 1
violated government regulations.

The ADQ also compiled Ministry of Transportation statistics to
show that since the Liberals came to office in 2003, the number of contracts
awarded without public tenders ballooned from 277 in the 2003-2004 fiscal year
to 955 in 2008-2009.

The opposition parties have been calling for a full public inquiry
into alleged corruption in the construction industry, which Premier Jean
Charest has repeatedly refused.

The PQ proposed changes to the Election Act that would reduce
individual contributions to political parties and crack down on attempts at
influence peddling, favouritism and illegal contributions.”