Last update: 10-Dec-2013 1:42 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Imbert: I faced pressure for SNC-Lavalin stand
People’s National Movement (PNM) MP Colm Imbert says he experienced Canadian “pressure” for a meeting when it was revealed that he was bringing a motion to Parliament calling for the Government to terminate all existing contracts with SNC-Lavalin for the Penal hospital project.
Speaking in Parliament on the motion yesterday, Imbert said he’d received requests to meet with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, which recommended SNC-Lavalin for the project. He said he received e-mailed requests but didn’t meet with the parties. Imbert said the “people pushing” for the project were “very experienced and are no pushovers.”
He then read from the Montreal Gazette of July 3, 1987, which said the office of former solicitor general Gerard Latulippe had broken government rules the year before by not reporting a contract worth about $73,000 awarded to a Montreal consulting firm owned by friends of Latulippe and lawyers linked to his former law firm.
Imbert said: “I say this because the Housing Minister needs to know he’s dealing with seasoned practitioners. The current Canadian High Commissioner was the solicitor general of Montreal. He resigned in 1987.”
Imbert also said in the weeks before Latulippe quit, the Gazette investigated his department and confirmed Latulippe had awarded a contract to the Montreal law firm of Denis et Comtois, which in turn farmed out part of the contract to Latulippe’s girlfriend, Diane Fortier, a Montreal lawyer who worked for Latulippe’s former law firm until she was fired.
He also read that Latulippe’s office awarded three contracts worth a total of $83,000 to Premar. Two of the contracts were awarded directly by the minister (Latulippe), while the third was awarded after Latulippe told his aides to invite Premar to submit a bid. Imbert also said only one was ever recorded in spending commitments.
He said before entering politics, Latulippe signed a severance agreement with McDougal Caron under which he was to receive a percentage of fees paid by his former clients in return for helping the firm retain the clients. Imbert told MPs: “So you’re not dealing with any pushover here, Mr Minister, you’re dealing with someone who was a solicitor general of Quebec and who had to resign due to allegations of conflict of interest and improper practices. He has been in the Canadian politics for a long time.
“I thought I’d bring this to the attention of the members of this House. When I read this man’s history, I realised he had a controversial history. I understood why I was being sent all these documents telling me how wonderful SNC-Lavalin is.” Imbert urged the Government to examine the arrangements with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, which he said is the problem and which the Canadian government had designated as its agent.
“The framework agreement is the problem,” Imbert added, saying the CCC doesn’t follow procedure. “We can’t do business with a company that doesn’t follow procedure...why didn’t CCC invite competitive bids?” Imbert said “even as bad as this government is,” he didn’t think projects were organised by two or three men sitting in a room and deciding what would be done.
Imbert said the World Bank’s blacklist of corrupt companies issued on September 18 indicated that of the 600 companies, 117 are Canadian and 115 are SNC-Lavalin subsidiaries. He said the conglomerate was banned in more than 20 countries. Responding to Imbert during the debate, Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal confirmed that the Government would be saying goodbye to SNC-Lavalin. He said the matter was discussed in Cabinet on Thursday.
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