PCs question premier's family ties to Cornwall bypass project

The P.E.I. Progressive Conservatives have raised concerns about work being done on the Cornwall bypass by a construction company connected to the premier's family.

The general contractor for the Cornwall bypass is a company run by the premier's first cousin

The P.E.I. PC party is raising concerns about Premier Wade MacLauchlan's family connection to construction company Island Coastal. Island Coastal is the general contractor of the Cornwall bypass, a multi-million dollar project. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

Opposition PCs have raised concerns about millions of dollars in construction work on a major highway project awarded to a company co-founded by the father of P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan.

According to the website for Island Coastal Inc., the company was co-founded by Harry MacLauchlan. The company's current general manager and president is Blair MacLauchlan, the premier's first cousin.

"We've been hearing a lot of grumbling from construction companies about the Cornwall bypass, in particular, the large slice of pie that has been cut out by the minister for the premier's cousin," PC MLA Steven Myers said during question period Thursday.

Island Coastal general contractor for Cornwall bypass

According to government documents, Island Coastal won the first four of six contracts tendered for the project so far, and has been named general contractor.

Mary Moszynski, executive director of public affairs for the province, said that of the $26 million in work awarded to date, Island Coastal has been awarded $18 million. Of that total, Moszynski said via email that $7 million went to subcontractors.

"You guys are carving up the money and putting all this money into deep Liberal pockets that have close connections with the premier," said Myers.

Noting Island Coastal had received 45 per cent of the value of all contracts so far, Myers asked Transportation Minister Paula Biggar if she considered that "a disproportionate share for one company to get on a multi-million dollar project?"

Island Coastal was co-founded by Harry MacLauchlan, the late father of P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan. (PEI Legislative Assembly)

"Anything that goes out is tendered and all those tendered come back and whoever is the lowest bidder on these tenders are the companies that are bidding and the companies that get the tender," Biggar responded. 

Moszynski said that MacLauchlan has never been involved in the operation of the company started by his father and no one in the premier's immediate family has been involved since Harry MacLauchlan passed away in 2002.

$7 million in work to subcontractors 

The PCs later accused Biggar of awarding some of the paving work on the bypass without a tender.

"There was in fact no tender," Myers told the House. "She gave it away to one of the companies who was complaining about the big piece of pie that was cut for the premier's cousin."

Moszynski clarified the paving work was worth $1.2 million and that the work wasn't required to be tendered because it was an expansion of an existing contract.

She said that work was subcontracted by Island Coastal to another company, Island Construction.

Moszynski also said that while 45 per cent of the work on the bypass has been carried out by Island Coastal, the remaining 55 per cent has been split among 31 other companies.

Construction of the Cornwall bypass is expected to be complete by fall 2019.

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