Que. businessman defends role in West Block deal
Quebec businessman Gilles Varin insisted Tuesday he did nothing wrong in helping a client get a $9-million contract to renovate Parliament Hill's West Block building.
Testifying before a Commons committee, Varin acknowledged he may have passed along the resumé of construction boss Paul Sauvé to a Conservative senator's aide, but he couldn't recall.
He also said he was paid just $118,000 over 30 months to help Sauvé's brick-laying company, LM Sauvé, win the West Block contract.
Sauvé has said he paid Varin, who was not a registered lobbyist, $140,000 in 2008 to use his Conservative contacts to win the contract. He said Varin claimed to have close friends who worked for Public Works Canada.
Sauvé said he agreed to pay Varin a monthly retainer averaging $4,000 and began making larger payments after LM Sauvé won the contract — an extra $70,000, plus taxes. LM Sauvé went bankrupt in 2009, however, and lost the contract.
In July 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper cracked down on lobbyists, making it illegal for someone to collect bonuses for contracts awarded.
Varin told Radio-Canada he felt he didn't need to register as a lobbyist because all he did was pass along Sauvé's resumé to a friend. He also denied receiving any bonuses.
The friend, Hubert Pichet, is a longtime friend of Varin who worked as an aide to Senator Pierre Claude Nolin.
In an interview aired last month, Pichet told Radio-Canada that Varin had asked him for contacts in the public works minister's office.