MUHC superhospital project in the Charbonneau spotlight

LA PRESSE

The Charbonneau Commission today heard from a pair of investigators who described the extent to which the MUHC went out of its way to favor SNC-Lavalin to win the construction contract to build the new billion-dollar superhospital in NDG.

Investigators André Noel and Eric Desaulniers also told of how the MUHC had "strongly encouraged" another consortium to drop out of the running.

Many people involved with awarding the $1.2 billion contract to SNC-Lavalin in 2010 now stand accused of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and many other crimes — including the former head of the MUHC, Arthur Porter, who is still fighting extradition in Panama.

His wife is back in Montreal, facing similar charges.

Noel and Deslauriers allege the cozy relationship between the MUHC and SNC-Lavalin began during the call for tenders period, and grew closer when St-Clair Armitage of the PPP consortium bought a house next door SNC-Lavalin's Pierre Duhaime.

At one point, they say Porter was among those who intervened to make sure SNC-Lavalin was favored.

Meanwhile, the investigators also described how the Cote-des-Neiges/NDG borough had backed the original proposal to build an underground parking lot in the Glen Yards, which would have had room for 1800 cars.

SNC-Lavalin asked for and received an exemption to propose building just 1270 spots instead, and put them above ground.

An eight-storey parking lot now stands on the site.

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