Construction boss' credibility comes under attack at Quebec inquiry -

Construction boss’ credibility comes under attack at Quebec inquiry


MONTREAL – A construction boss who pinned the blame for a collusion on a mid-level Montreal municipal functionary admits companies rigged contracts without the help of civil servants.

Joe Borsellino says a Montreal contract he lost was rigged, although the man he accused of creating the crooked system, Gilles Surprenant, had nothing to do with the contract.

Just one day earlier, Borsellino had offered a vastly different explanation from what Quebec’s public inquiry has heard so far about the cause of corruption in the construction industry.

Borsellino says it was a modest bureaucrat, Surprenant, who was really behind the elaborate bid-rigging scheme. According to Borsellino, construction companies were dragged into the scam by corrupt city employees.

This contradicts earlier testimony heard by the inquiry that businessmen were at the root of the corruption.

Borsellino, head of Garnier Construction, is back on the stand today for a third day and is being questioned about why he took Montreal’s former public works director to Italy in 2008.

Quebec’s corruption inquiry is now focusing on his relationship with Robert Marcil, a former senior engineer with the city.

Borsellino has claimed that he took Marcil to Italy to develop a business relationship following a series of cancelled contracts.

But inquiry counsel are attempting to pick apart his claim that relations with the city were poor and needed some repairing.

They contend Marcil was invited to Italy as a thank you for signing off on a $5.5 million contract that Garnier won in 2007.

They are also going over a series of losing bids that Borsellino cited as proof of his poor relations. Commission counsel have been able to show the majority of the bids had nothing to do with Marcil.

“We know it’s not true,” lawyer Simon Tremblay snapped at one point, expressing disbelief at Borsellino’s description of his relationship with the city.

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