City contract with Telus triggers call for police investigation
After releasing his annual report, Montreal's Auditor-General is asking police to investigate the awarding of two city contracts to telecommunications firm Telus.
The $100-million contracts, awarded in 2008, are for providing telephone landline and data services.
Jacques Bergeron's report, which was tabled at Monday night's city council meeting, indicated that not only are the telecom contracts over-budget and behind schedule, but there are also several irregularities in how the contracts were handed out.
As a result, Bergeron is asking the Surete du Quebec to investigate, "but we won't comment on that," said the Auditor-General.
Bergeron has also accused Louis Roquet, director general of the city of Montreal, of giving the company a preview of the confidential document, which detailed irregularities in its contract with the city.
Bergeron's report also questioned the city's procedure in granting a contract to BCIA, a security firm.
BCIA was tapped to provide security services for the municipal courthouse, Montreal police headquarters, and another police building.
The report found that the contract had been awarded without going to tenders.
"They did not follow the rules of the city to have the contract," said Bergeron. "It was a verbal contract... and the authorities were not given the right information."
In addition Bergeron says administrative procedures were not followed, significant expenses were incurred without any call for tenders, and employees were not investigated for security clearance.
BCIA was already the subject of controversy in recent weeks due to ties to with members of Premier Jean Charest's cabinet.
Tony Tomassi was fired from his position as the province's family minister and was expelled from caucus after it was revealed that he used a company credit card supplied by BCIA, before he was appointed to cabinet.
Opposition leaders shocked
Projet Montreal leader Richard Bergeron says the Auditor-General's report hit with a bang, and calls it a bad day for a city that had started to turn things around and restore public confidence following a number of scandals.
"Confidence is very hard to build and very easy to lose," said the political leader.
Opposition Vision Montreal Leader Louise Harel was particularly outraged that city manager Louis Roquet informed Telus about confidential sections of the report now going to the police.
"We have to recognize that it's a very abnormal process," said Harel.
Roquet claims his actions were not only legal, but ethical, and that the Auditor-General should have informed the company.
"He did not do it, so I did it because I wanted to protect the city of Montreal and its taxpayers," said Roquet.
Telus says the Auditor-General's report contains incomplete and inaccurate data, and that police have yet to contact the company about any alleged illegal activity.
The company says it will have completed the migration of all data transmission sites by autumn, and the changeover to telephone lines will be finished by 2011.