Montreal’s corruption watchdog has issued a scathing report about the awarding of lucrative grants without tender for Montreal’s 375th birthday party, prompting both Southwest and Lachine to cancel their contracts with the organization involved.
In a report released Tuesday, inspector general Denis Gallant said a non-profit company, Montréal en histoires, has been operating as a front for a private company owned by the same two men, Martin Laviolette and Georges Fournier, who run the non-profit.
Montréal en histoires awarded two contracts to their company, Torrentiel, totalling nearly $2 million in the Southwest and Lachine boroughs, the report said.
Non-profit organizations are not required to issue a public call for tender.
The contract in Lachine was for a $974,000 lighting contract, while the one in the Southwest, for $988,000, was for lighting and bridge work.
Gallant said Torrentiel “does not have the equipment, expertise” or staffing required to carry out the projects.
Following the report, Lachine announced it would cancel its contract with Montréal en histoires.
Southwest Borough Mayor Benoit Doré said on Twitter he would also cancel his borough’s contract.
Report doesn’t tell whole story: company president
Laviolette, who is the executive director of Montréal en histoires and the president of Torrentiel, told CBC News the report fails to tell his side of the story and is “dirtying” the non-profit’s work.
“We did everything we were supposed to,” he said. “This is a big mess.”
Laviolette explained that both Lachine and the Southwest approached him with the idea for a 375th project.
He said the boroughs were impressed with the work Montréal en histoires had done in Old Montreal with their Cité Mémoire project.
According to Laviolette, Montréal en histoires comes up with the concept and does all the original research and Torrentiel, which has the necessary expertise and equipment, does the installation.
He said that, if asked, he would have allowed another company to do the work.
“If they had told us to go to tenders, we would have gone to tenders,” said Laviolette.
This isn’t the first time Montreal’s 375 celebrations have been the subject of controversy. The cost of the birthday celebrations and some of the projects, including a recent ad that only featured white people, have also been criticized.