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Canadian engineer admits to dishonest practices

A Canadian engineer praised for his work for the Bermuda Government has admitted being involved in dishonest practices in Canada.

Yves “Bob” Lortie, from Quebec, served as a chief engineer for the Ministry of Public Works for three years and was hailed for his work training Bermudians before his contract expired on August 21.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported this week that Mr Lortie admitted in May that he had been involved in dishonest or questionable procedures “by tolerating a system of contract sharing that would bypass the city of Montreal's bidding process” between 2005 and 2009.

The engineer also admitted to the Discipline Council of the Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec to having wrongly approved the payment of two invoices.

Both of the allegations related to his time as vice-president at Genivar, a major engineering firm in Quebec.

Mr Lortie told CBC News that he admitted the charges as part of a compromise after negotiation, and that he would have liked to have argued his case.

He also told the media that he had been open about the allegations against him when he was hired by the Bermuda Government.

Mr Lortie said: “I unveiled everything in a very transparent way, then they made the choice.”

He added: “These people are able to evaluate; they did their checking.”

Patrick Leblanc, a spokesman for the Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec, said: “The actions for which Mr Lortie admitted his guilt are serious and the sanction that will be recommended will reflect this degree of seriousness.”

A penalty hearing is scheduled to take place in November and Mr Lortie could receive a suspension and a fine.

The investigation into Mr Lortie was one of 400 launched by the Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec in the wake of the Charbonneau Commission, which looked at corruption in the awarding of public construction contracts in Quebec.

The commission heard evidence that there was an elaborate system of bid-rigging through which engineers and construction firms won contracts in the city of Montreal in exchange for political donations.

One former construction boss claimed that 3 per cent of the value of all contracts he received from the city went to the political party of the mayor at that time, and another 1 per cent went to a city official.

Among the firms implicated in the investigation was Genivar, Mr Lortie's former employer. Opposition leader Craig Cannonier, who was the Minister of Public Works when Mr Lortie was hired, said he knew nothing of the allegation against him.

Mr Cannonier said he had been impressed by Mr Lortie's work in the ministry, but questioned how well he had been vetted before he was hired.

He said: “Ministers are not involved in the hiring process themselves.

“At no point is any infereference by ministers allowed in the hiring of people. It really boils down to a question of what checks and balances are there in the Civil Service?

“How is it possible that no one knew anything?

“What kind of a vetting system do we have?”

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, previously praised Mr Lortie for his work to hire, train and promote Bermudians in the ministry.

The Ministry of Public Works did not respond to questions.

Yves Lortie, left, with Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, Minister of Public Works in December 2018 (File photograph)

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Published September 13, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated September 13, 2019 at 8:23 am)

Canadian engineer admits to dishonest practices

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