Rights and Democracy: an odd cameo appearance

Remember the great old days when the entire cast of Homicide: Life on the Streets would suddenly appear, in character, in an episode of Law and Order? Geek heaven. That’s how I felt last week when I saw a fascinating bit of testimony from the much-noted Nov. 23 meeting of the Commons Government Operations committee.

That was the meeting at which construction-company boss Paul Sauvé testified that he received a $9 million contract to renovate Parliament’s West Block after he paid $140,000 to Gilles Varin, who knew people in the Conservative party. Here’s the key bit from a PostMedia account of that testimony:

“Varin was suggested to us strongly as a man who had strong connections with the Conservative government and that was the go-to-guy for this type of small-cap infrastructure spending contracts,” Sauve told the government operations and estimates committee in the House of Commons. “So yes, because we paid, we received.”

He goes on to suggest all sorts of links between the construction business and organized crime in Quebec, which I know will come as profoundly saddening news to Maclean’s readers and/or Members of Parliament. But where it gets really interesting for followers of the endless Rights and Democracy saga is when Liberal MP Geoff Regan notices the passive voice in the quote above (“Varin was suggested to us strongly…”) and decides to tug at that thread:

Hon. Geoff Regan: Thank you.

Who told you that you should go to see Mr. Varin because he was the guy to see?

Mr. Paul Sauvé: We had a board member called Claude Sarrazin, who was a Conservative, I believe, at least in spirit, who requested us to contact Gilles Varin, and brought him to my attention, to my office.

Hon. Geoff Regan: Now, in terms of where the money went, would Mr. Sarrazin have gotten any of the money you paid?

Mr. Paul Sauvé: No. Board members at that time were paid an honorarium for their attendance at our different board functions over the year, but I do not believe it was part and parcel of those payments.

Gracious. Could that be the same Claude Sarrazin who runs a private-eye company called Groupe Sirco and who was called in after a break-in at Rights and Democracy in January to — well, whatever he was called in to do, it wasn’t explained to R&D employees who were questioned in his presence, and his contract to do this work was awarded without tender, and the new R&D board later voted after the fact to loosen the organization’s internal rules regarding tender for contracts,  and Sirco’s report will be one of two long-awaited reports the Foreign Affairs Committee hopes to receive within 10 days?

Worry no longer. Regan asked that question at his next opportunity.

Hon. Geoff Regan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Sauvé, you mentioned Mr. Claude Sarrazin, who is on the board of directors of LM Sauvé. Is that the same Claude Sarrazin who is the president of SIRCO Investigation and Protection?

Mr. Paul Sauvé: Yes, it is, sir.





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