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Renovation deal doesn't pass 'smell test,' Liberals say as hearings begin

The renovations on the north tower of the West Block are framed in an archway on Parliament Hill on Oct. 25, 2010.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The inquiry into a controversial renovation contract on Parliament Hill got off to a slow start, with two officials from companies involved in the project rescheduled to next week.

As a result, the only witnesses to provide testimony on Tuesday were senior bureaucrats from Public Works and Government Services Canada, who repeated throughout the hearing they found "no evidence" of political intervention in the file.

Conservative MPs said the hearing was proof the opposition is on a fishing expedition with its allegations that a plugged-in lobbyist helped a Montreal company, LM Sauvé, obtain the $9-million restoration contract.

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"The opposition's conspiracy theories, every single one of them, has had cold water poured on them," said Conservative MP Chris Warkentin. "No wrongdoing happened in the department, all the rules were followed."

But the opposition said it will continue the hearings, starting next week with officials from companies involved in the project, as well as Gilles Varin, a former Conservative organizer who worked with LM Sauvé.

"It still doesn't pass the smell test," Liberal MP Denis Coderre. "The bureaucrats are telling us what happened, but we want to hear from people who were there at the time."

The opposition is focusing on amendments that were introduced during the tendering process, and which favoured LM Sauvé's bid, as reported in Tuesday's Globe and Mail.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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