Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Inquiry Hears Contract Info Went from Montreal Officials, to Party Man, to Firms

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Inquiry Hears Contract Info Went from Montreal Officials, to Party Man, to Firms

Article excerpt

'Mr. Three Per Cent' had privileged contract info

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MONTREAL - A former Montreal municipal-party fundraiser, referred to locally as "Mr. Three Per Cent," has admitted he received inside information about upcoming engineering contracts from a senior city official and then transmitted it to certain firms.

Investigators at the Charbonneau Commission suggested Thursday that Bernard Trepanier, an influential party official, often acted as an intermediary between city officials and the engineering firms and that he trafficked in privileged information.

Trepanier downplayed the significance of that information. He said he only supplied engineering companies with a heads-up about contracts that were coming as well as the results of meetings where city officials decided who got those contracts.

He continued to dispute the notion he was a key cog in making an elaborate collusion scheme work at the city.

Engineering firm executives described cartel-like practices with Trepanier in the middle -- the man with connections to the city's powerful executive body who could keep engineering firms in the loop on upcoming contracts.

Firms were expected to pony up donations to ensure the city selected them for the contracts. Trepanier has been alleged by several witnesses at the inquiry to be an instrumental figure in such schemes.

Confronted with various elements gathered by the inquiry, Trepanier maintained he simply sold places at fundraising tables for Union Montreal and passed on information to firms via city official Robert Marcil.

"Can we consider this information as being confidential? That this is information that Marcil should have kept to himself?" commission counsel Denis Gallant asked Thursday.

''Maybe," Trepanier said. "It was an advantage that I had, knowing in advance."

Trepanier insisted he never knew how much the contracts were worth and that he wasn't involved in determining who won. The important thing was it gave him an advantage when it came to raising funds.

"You know that when we do sectoral financing, the electoral laws basically don't apply?" Gallant said. "What's important for you is cheques. Whether it's John Q. Public's name on the cheque or Monica Lewinsky's, it doesn't matter. What's important is reaching your financing goals."

"Correct," Trepanier said simply.

Phone records show countless calls between Trepanier and various people, including the city's then-public works director and Michel Lalonde, the head of an engineering company who has admitted to leading an industry cartel.

The calls came on days when officials secretly met to decide how to dole out contracts, which Trepanier brushed off as a coincidence.

There were also documented meetings between Marcil, Trepanier and former executive committee head Frank Zampino. But Trepanier was adamant his role was limited and he denied ever giving Marcil any money. …

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