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LETTER: A word to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

April 16, 2019 was an important date — the provincial budget was revealed by the Liberal government, without debate.

April 16, 2018, was another important date, and both have two things in common — on both dates the Liberal government showed no openness, transparency or accountability.

Let me explain.

On March 12, 2018, the Liberal government advertised a Request for Proposals Tender No. 11035 for the leasing of office space for the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources in Corner Brook.

The closing date was 3 p.m. on April 16, 2018, and the public opening of bids started at 3:05 p.m. At this public opening there was no sealed envelope opened or bid read out aloud as having been received from Marine Contractors Inc. There were three government employees present at the public opening along with myself, as representative for Noton Enterprises Ltd..

I asked the Liberal government in writing on at least six separate occasions the following question:

“How could Marine Contractors Inc. even be considered, let alone awarded a 20-year lease ($20-million) contract when at the public opening of the tender bids which took place on 3:05 p.m. on April 16, 2018… there was no sealed envelope opened or bid read out aloud as having been submitted by Marine Contractors Inc.?”

I have received no reply from the Liberal government that in any way directly answers this question.

In The Western Star on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, it was reported that Minister Gerry Byrne “announced Friday that the province has entered into a contract with Marine Contractors to construct a new headquarters for his department on Wheeler’s Road.”

“At the site of the build, Byrne said the contract comes out of a request for proposals put out by the province.  It was a process he said was open to any and all types of builds and to the use of existing facilities ...”

The evaluation committee, in its evaluation of the eligible /compliant proposals, ranked Noton’s proposal as No. 1, having the best value. The Liberal government gave a 20-year contract to Marine Contractors Inc.

There has been nothing but silence from this Liberal government. It had no authority to obviate the tendering process, which is mandated by legislation.

I say to all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, how many tens and hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts have been awarded by this Liberal government since December 2015, to parties in circumstances similar to Tender No. 11035?

A Court of Appeal judge, in a recent decision, said that a party aggrieved by the wrongful award of a tender by a government ought to consider that “if the public at large has an interest in a fair and transparent process, they have a recourse through the ballot box.”

I am giving the public notice, in light of the forthcoming election, so that the public can have recourse to the ballot box armed with the knowledge of the conduct of the Liberal government.

Graham Watton, QC

Corner Brook

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Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election set for May 16

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