Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Monday, May 12, 2014

All the King's Men - Part 2 - Tom Marshall and Pomerleau Construction

Tom Marshall has a reputation among the people of this province as a calm, steady hand. For most of his political career he was the Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board - both jobs that require professionalism and judgement. On the surface, Marshall comes across that way. But, is that really the story here?

People might be a little surprised to realize that, in fact, Tom Marshall has taken more cash from companies doing business with the government than any other PC MHA. I certainly wasn't expecting to find that, but that is the truth. Going through the political donations the pattern is quite obvious, especially when a particular corporation donates to more than one MHA. In those cases you may see an MHA get $500.00, another minister get perhaps $1,000.00, but then you will see Marshall get $5,000.00. I've taken to calling it the "$5,000.00 Club". Corporations that fall into that club, at least for the last election in 2011, were:

Atlantic Engineering Consultants Ltd (owned by WSP-which was the disgraced Genivar from Quebec)
Brook Construction
Hearn Fougere Architects Ltd
Johnson's Construction
Marine Contractors

All have significant business with this government. Then of course there is the biggest single donor to Marshall, which is none other than Coleman Management Services for ($7,500.00) owned by Frank Coleman - the guy who just got out of a quandary with his paving company Humber Valley Paving. That one is now being investigated by the provincial Auditor General.

There are a number of what I like to call the "$1,000.00 Club", and they all have contracts with the government to. There are too many to reasonably list here, but one of them, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, might raise some eyebrows. Considering that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper were undergoing no less than the environmental review of two long term forestry use plans at the time, a political donation might well be questionable - at best. Suffice it to say that the interim premier of this province is the biggest offender when it comes to taking money from those that hold government contracts. However, there is one particular case that is perhaps more troubling than most.

We have all heard of the corruption investigations going on in Quebec. They've been going on for two years now. The Commission there is looking at the construction industry, and the use of political donations by these companies to get contracts. People are being investigated. People have been arrested and charged. It's a serious problem.

In 2007 a construction company from Quebec was looking to get its foot in the door here in the province. That company's name is Pomerleau Construction. You may have seen their signs on the Convention Centre addition in St. John's. If you are reading this from Corner Brook you've seen their signs on City Hall jobs, and the new health centre. In Labrador, ditto at the new Lab West hospital. In 2007 they were just coming in. I've already wrote one post on how former premier Danny Williams accepted $5,000.00 from the company just around the time they were awarded the Long Term Care Facility job in Corner Brook:

However, Williams wasn't the only one to receive funds from Pomerleau that year for his election campaign fund. Marshall did to. There was a difference between the two donations funny enough. In the case of Williams, the cheque was made out by Pomerleau Construction to him. In the case of Marshall it was trickier to find. In fact, it was disguised. It was disguised by location. It was disguised by name. It was disguised by amount. Here's how it worked.

Two senior executives of Pomerleau Construction donated $2,500.00 each (to reach the magic $5,000.00 total). The executives were Eric Gaulin, Vice President Construction - Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and Barbara Veilleux, both from the Ottawa office of Pomerleau. The other interesting part of this is the donations are recorded as coming from Fall River, Nova Scotia. Fall River is located just outside of Dartmouth where the Pomerleau office is located.

The bottom line is that a Quebec construction company, that never made a political donation in the province before, suddenly makes $10,000.00 worth of donations to the two most powerful people in the Newfoundland and Labrador government within months of winning its first contract here- in their district no less. As bad as that sounds, and it does sound bad, the fact that there appears to be an attempt to disguise the donations to Marshall is just as disturbing. Certainly Marshall must have known these two people. In 2007 those two donations to his election campaign ranked in the top five highest campaign donors for him (along with Humber Valley Paving). The natural conclusion I reach from all of this is that it is not simply coincidence that a Quebec firm, implicated in corruption in that province (ie its ownership of Genivar - now WSP), had two executives make $2,500.00 worth of donations each, and disguise the origin of those donations. Certainly, both Mr. Williams and Marshall have some answering to do, because this appears to be a case of "thank-you very much money", and if that were true, it would be illegal.

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