A former CEO of a Crown corporation responsible for funding military infrastructure contracts has filed a lawsuit alleging Delta MP Carla Qualtrough, the Liberal public services and procurement minister, didn’t address a potential conflict of interest issue after the head of an Ontario construction company with ties to the Trudeau government was appointed the new chair of the organization.
The Globe & Mail reported Thursday that James Paul, the former chief executive officer of Defence Construction Canada (DCC), claims Qualtrough appointed new chair Moreen Miller two years ago despite concerns he and five company directors raised.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this month.
Paul claims the five DCC executives, who were appointed by the Harper government, resigned in protest over Qualtrough not doing enough to address a perceived conflict of issue with Miller simultaneously being the president of Ontario-based Fowler Construction Co. -- that had previously done contract work for DCC -- over a period of ten months.
One of Fowler’s shareholders is Bill Graham, a former Liberal defence minister and policy adviser to the current federal government.
“Mr. Graham therefore has inside knowledge of the opportunity that Defence Construction Canada’s work presented for Fowler and the benefit to Fowler of Ms. Miller being appointed chairperson,” the lawsuit claims.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
Qualtrough denied any wrongdoing in a statement to the Optimist.
“I can assure everyone that both the process for the appointment of Ms. Miller as chair of Defence Construction Canada (DCC), and the process resulting in the decision not to re-appoint Mr. Paul as CEO of DCC, were fair and merit-based,” said Qualtrough. “As chair, Ms. Miller was required to work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Yesterday (Thursday), upon learning of Ms. Miller’s subsequent contract with Fowler I directed my officials to investigate.
“The suggestion that DCC appointments were directed by other considerations is completely false.”
-with a file from Ian Jacques