(OTTAWA) Maneuvers at the Department of Justice to encourage the hiring of lawyers linked to the Liberal Party of Canada (PLC) are reminiscent of the ploys of the sponsorship scandal era, according to opposition parties in Ottawa.
The joint investigation by The Siver Times and The Globe and Mail published yesterday made the MPs jump to all sides. Starting with Conservative MP Alain Rayes, who finds it “concerned that the government is willing to” bypass “normal contract award procedures.
According to our information, the Deputy Minister of Justice, Nathalie Drouin, was prepared to entrust a consulting contract, estimated at $75,000, to the firm McCarthy Tetrault – which had itself sought the Ministry – without going through a call in the fall of 2017.
It was then expected that the mandate would be directed by Awanish Sinha, who describes himself on his professional page as a lawyer for the PLC during the 2015 election campaign. Attorney Adam Goldenberg, who has already been a speechwriter at the office of the former Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, also worked on the project.
Granting the contract to McCarthy Tetrault over-the-counter would have contravened the federal contracting rules. And while it was close to be granted, after being questioned by media on this contract, the Ministry turned around by launching an “informal” call for tenders.
At the end of the day, the mandate was awarded to the Toronto firm in December 2017.
This story has the scent of the sponsorship scandal, argues MP Alain Rayes: “We are not in the scandal of sponsorships, but this culture that [existed] before, it seems that the government, it does not do not bother him. ”
And he urges Justice Minister David Lametti – who was not in office at the time – to “tell the Canadian people … what they [the Liberals] are going to do to prevent such things happen again.
In the office of the Minister of Justice, it was reiterated yesterday that the rules were followed and that the contract in question was “approved by officials of the Department of Justice Canada”.
“Canadians can be confident that contracting for legal services is an assiduous and responsible process,” said a spokeswoman for the Minister, Célia Canon. However, the contract that was the subject of our investigation was one of consultation and not of legal services. For the latter, the Department has greater latitude.
“ARRANGED WITH GUYS OF VIEWS”
The Bloc Quebecois is also asking for explanations from the government. MP Xavier Barsalou Duval also compares the case to the scandal of sponsorships. “I thought we were done doing politics that way,” he said. It seems that these habits are hard to lose on the Liberal side. ”
The elected official even wants this case to encourage members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to make a thorough study of the contracting process. “The coincidences are starting to be quite disturbing. It should be known whether this is an isolated case or a generalized case, “says Barsalou Duval.
At the New Democratic Party (NDP), MP Alexandre Boulerice misunderstands how a firm can directly offer a service offer to the Department of Justice.
“It should be the department that sets [its objectives] and goes outward if necessary. There, it’s completely the opposite. ”
– Alexandre Boulerice, NDP MP
“Was the offer made by the firm really meeting a strategic need that was prioritized by the Department? Asks the New Democrat aloud, claiming that this whole affair “seems a little arranged with the guy of the views”.
“I think we should at least answer two things: first, should firms approach departments to provide services to them when they have not been asked for anything, and second, to ensure that tendering processes are transparent and open to everyone, “says Boulerice.
McCarthy Tetrault and the lawyers involved declined to comment on this contract, which was presented as a pilot project to reform “significant risk assessments” and introduce a new Department of Justice initiative. “Customer-oriented business culture”.