Parliament reno mired in new accusations

Masonry work has ground to a halt on Parliament's West Block renovation after a subcontractor walked off the job and went to the RCMP.

More trouble and fresh allegations surround a big-money Parliament Hill renovation being probed by the RCMP.

The RCMP was already investigating a multimillion-dollar contract to renovate Parliament's West Block before fresh allegations surfaced Friday. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

Masonry work ground to a halt on the West Block renovation Friday after a subcontractor walked off the job and went to the Mounties.

RJW Stonemasons president Bobby Watt said he isn't being paid by the bonding company running the project. He also said 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, Quebec City-based L'Unique Assurances Générales, 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 L.M. Sauvé in 2008 to do the West Block masonry.

L.M. Sauvé head Paul Sauvé 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 Ottawa-based 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."

Work part of $1B project

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

"The RCMP acknowledges that the matter that you're referring to regarding the allegations made by Mr. Paul Sauvé 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."

The federal Public Works Department, which has overall charge of the Parliament Hill renovations, issued a statement saying: "This is an issue between the bonding company, who took over responsibility for completing the north towers project, and RJW Stonemasons. [Public Works] does not comment on disputes between general contractors and their subs."

The masonry work is part of a $1-billion project to revamp the West Block of Parliament.