The Bloc demands all of the Roxham Road contracts

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Michel Saba, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Bloc Québécois demanded on Tuesday that the Trudeau government reveal all the contracts related to Roxham Road after Ottawa had revealed the day before, after months of refusal, to have disbursed $28 million for leases concluded with companies. of a Liberal donor, Pierre Guay.

During question period, the Bloc House leader, Alain Therrien, wondered whether the contracts with Mr. Guay’s companies, « those the media know of » are only « the tip of the the iceberg”.

“We know that there are others, contracts, in particular for hotels, summarized Mr. Therrien. If the government has nothing to hide, why is it refusing to disclose all of the Roxham Road contracts?”

Much like in a press scrum minutes earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not committed in his response to releasing all of the contracts.

Rather, he repeated what had been said the day before at the House of Commons Ethics Committee: it was public servants who decided to enter into the contracts and it was the Border Services Agency that contacted the owner of the lands.

« This contract included the only land possible in the circumstances and the Border Services Agency was already using it to intercept and process people crossing irregularly, » Trudeau said. Leases were negotiated on a fair value basis to obtain a competitive price.”

The $28 million figure appears in a document sent Monday to members of the ethics committee a few minutes before it hears witnesses as part of its investigation into expenses related to Roxham Road.

According to the Elections Canada database, Mr. Guay gave thousands of dollars in contributions to the Liberal Party of Canada, but also, to a lesser extent, to the Conservative Party of Canada when he was in power.

Radio-Canada recently revealed that, according to its compilation, Ottawa paid more than half a billion dollars in public funds to reimburse costs paid by Quebec or to pay suppliers.

The Conservatives and New Democrats also rose up against the contracts with Mr. Guay. The Conservative Lieutenant for Quebec, Pierre Paul-Hus, tried to get the Prime Minister to « admit » that his MP for Châteauguay—Lacolle, Brenda Shanahan, met Pierre Guay on several occasions, the latter having participated in « at least four fundraising cocktails” of the elected official.

This would contradict, according to Mr. Paul-Hus, the testimony in committee to the effect that Mr. Guay has never met with elected Liberals to discuss these contracts, and could represent a situation of conflict of interest.

During his testimony, Mr. Guay assured that he had never solicited or maintained relations with “any politician whatsoever”. He also said he has « nothing to hide » when questioned by committee members whether he was open to disclosing more details about the leases that tie his businesses to the government.

The deputy leader of the New Democratic Party, Alexandre Boulerice, for his part, was scandalized that the government had paid $28 million “in secret” rather than suspending the agreement on safe third countries in order to simplify the process for refugees. .

“The Liberals have chosen to garner millions [en] public money to a liberal donor, said Mr. Boulerice. And that, without a call for tenders. Because for a liberal, you know, a boyfriend is still a boyfriend!”

In response to questions from Messrs. Paul-Hus and Boulerice, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Helena Jaczek, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marie-France Lalonde, took turns reading a statement similar to that of the Prime Minister.

Roxham Road, located in Montérégie, has been used by a crowd of potential asylum seekers since 2017. This makeshift passage is used because of the Safe Third Country Agreement.

This agreement ensures that a potential refugee presenting himself at an official Canadian border crossing and having first set foot on American soil is turned away since he must continue his asylum application in the first « place of safety » where he arrives. .

Thus, people still wishing to seek asylum in Canada cross the Canada-US border through makeshift crossings, such as Roxham Road in Montérégie. Once they are in Canada, their refugee claim can be processed.

– With information from Émilie Bergeron

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