Consequences from the corruption scandals that were exposed during the Charbonneau Inquiry and before continue to roll out.
On March 10, the Quebec engineering licensing body, l’Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ), announced it had agreed to a settlement with a group of engineers and “ex-engineers” at Axor, the design-build and development corporation.
Axor is a Montreal-based company of 40 years’ history that develops and finances a wide range of projects, mostly in the energy, infrastructure and buildings sectors. It also does project management. Based in Montreal, it also has offices in Edmonton, Vancouver and Dubai.
OIQ said that during 2006 and 2008 employees of Axor had received “refunds” from the company to compensate them for political donations the employees had made.
Quebec law forbids mandates that political donations have to be from individuals.
In 2010 Axor had admitted to funnelling $113,500 to the Quebec Liberals, $34,000 to the Parti Québecois, and $5,000 to the Action démocratique du Québec. The company was investigated by the chief electoral officer and fined. The political parties had to refund the money. Several other engineering and construction companies were found to have participated in similar schemes.
In the three years following that case, OIQ has been conducting its own inquiries, resulting in the Axor settlement announced last week. The statement of March 10 noted “In its inquiries, the Office of the Syndic found that neither the professional competence nor the diligence of the engineers concerned were at issue. However, according to the Office of the Syndic, these engineers’ participation in a political party funding process involving a refund from their employer constitutes an act derogatory to the honour and dignity of the profession that must be brought to the public’s attention and penalized in order to maintain the transparency required in political contributions. The settlements will be entered in the files of the engineers concerned.”
At the same time, OIQ said its purpose is “not to seek to punish professionals, but rather correct deviant conduct….. it [OIQ] may settle cases through conciliation or a formal commitment by the engineer concerned to change his or her professional practices.”
Four days later, the Government of Canada announced that a company had been fined for participating in a scheme to rig the bids for a private sector ventilation contract for the Faubourg St-Laurent Phase II project. Les Entreprises de ventilation Climasol and its president pleaded guilty in the Québec Superior Court in Montreal for having coordinated bids with their competitors in order to predetermine which company would get the contract.
To read the OIQ announcement, click here.
To read about the bid-rigging scheme for the Faubourg St. Laurent project, click here.