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October 15, 2010

Masonry firm walks off Parliament Hill reno job

OTTAWA

There’s more trouble and fresh allegations involving a big-money Parliament Hill renovation contract being probed by the Mounties.

Masonry work ground to a halt on the West Block renovation Friday after a sub-contractor walked off the job and went to the RCMP.

RJW Stonemasons president Bobby Watt says he isn’t being paid by the bonding company running the project. He also claims he’s being squeezed out of the masonry job in favour of another firm and he’s asked the RCMP to look into that.

Last month, Watt’s lawyers notified the bonding firm, L’Unique Assurances General, that RJW intended to take it to court over $200,000 in unpaid work.

A copy of the Sept. 23 letter was provided to The Canadian Press. “It has come to our attention that your agent on site ... has been deliberately attempting to interfere with the contractual relations between our client and its stonemasons by deliberately stating that L’Unique’s intent is to squeeze out RJW by failing to make payment in accordance with representations and promises made by L’Unique,”the letter says.

The Mounties are already investigating a $9-million contract awarded to Montreal construction company LM Sauve in 2008 to do the job.

LM Sauve head Paul Sauve has said he hired Tory-connected businessman Gilles Varin to help win the original contract, eventually paying him $140,000. But the company went bankrupt a year later and lost the contract.

L’Unique took over the project and hired RJW to finish the masonry work.

L’Unique declined to comment on the specifics of the matter.

“For obvious reasons, we don’t want to talk publicly of problems that can be solved in a minute,”said Jacques Canac-Marquis, the company’s director of service.

“We have to find out if they are real problems or not, and how to solve it. Period.”

The RCMP’s Montreal division, which is looking into the original complaint over the West Block contract, wouldn’t comment the new allegations.

“The RCMP acknowledges that the matter that you’re referring to regarding the allegations made by Mr. Paul Sauve is now in the hands of the ‘C’ division,”Cpl. Caroline Letang said.

“We will look into the matter and decide where to take it from there. We’re not in a position to comment any further on this specific matter at this time.”

Canadian Press

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