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Courtesy of CBC

Looks like someone may have got caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

A senior manager with the Department of Immigration resigned without notice while under investigation for misappropriation of funds through sweetheart contracting, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

This follows a warning tip for Parliament to monitor sole-source contracting from a former crime-busting prosecutor. The department said in a statement: “It has been recommended that senior officials ensure policy directives and oversight mechanisms are strengthened for prevention and early determination of potential similar acts of misappropriation.”

The investigator’s report was not made public, and the senior manager — a former director of the department — was not identified. Staff said before the investigation was concluded, the director resigned.

A whistleblower’s complaint under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act triggered the investigation. Details of specific timelines, as well as the name of the contractor, were censored.

Staff said a director at national headquarters sent a complaint of wrongdoing to the department’s internal disclosure office. “It was alleged the director bullied and marginalized another employee under their supervision, including using vulgar language and inappropriate racial comments.”

The statement from staff continued saying the director failed to disclose a conflict of interest in both the promotion of another employee “in which a personal relationship existed” and in “the approval of a sole-source contract with a third party organization in which a financial stake was held.”

Under the Values And Ethics Code For The Public Service, managers are required to “act at all times in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny, an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.” When asked, the immigration department did not say whether the police were called for the incident.

Former Québec prosecutor and deputy counsel Denis Gallant, a lawyer, told the Commons ethics committee during a 2011 inquiry into graft in the province’s construction industry Parliament “should appoint an independent Inspector General to watch for sweetheart contracting.”

“Very often people say, oh, if there’s a problem we’ll send it to the police,” said Gallant. “Well, I’m a former Crown prosecutor. You know what it’s like when you go to the police.”

On December 11 Gallant testified, and said billions of dollars worth of pandemic-related contracts were awarded sans scrutiny. “As a taxpayer I have to wonder about what control measures were implemented to prevent any inflated pricing, potential fraud and waste,” said Gallant.

“I also wonder if we received the best products and services at the best price from the companies and organizations the government has dealt with,” said Gallant.

In 2011, Québec’s Commission of Inquiry on the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry spurred hundreds of criminal charges. It also resulted in three mayors resigning.

“Nobody is questioning the exceptional situation we’ve been in,” Gallant said, referencing the pandemic. “Nobody is questioning the urgency for our leaders to act and inject massive sums of money to help Canadians deal with the disastrous impact of the pandemic.

“However, an emergency must not become a pretext to circumvent binding government procurement rules. Emergencies must not contribute to lax monitoring and oversight of public funds.”

Jackie Conroy is a reporter for the Western Standard

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