02/21/2013 09:21 EST | Updated 04/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Bergeron alleges Union Montréal favoured communication firms

Public relations firms that do business with the City of Montreal are denying allegations of improper conduct by Projet Montréal leader Richard Bergeron.

Bergeron claims Octane Communications and Morrow Communications were too cozy with Union Montréal, the former ruling party at city hall.

He alleges the communication companies were awarded lucrative contracts with the city in exchange for helping Union Montréal win elections.

At a news conference this afternoon, Bergeron said he asked to review contracts handled by the two companies between 2001 and 2011 but the unit responsible for access to information said the only contracts available in the system were those from 2006 to 2011.

According to the documents, Octane was awarded over $2 million in contracts between 2006 and 2011. Morrow was given $400,000 over the same time period, Bergeron said.

The Projet Montréal leader calls it a "system" and compared it to schemes outlined at the province's corruption inquiry into the handling of public construction contracts.

He has asked the province's anti-corruption squad and the city's auditor-general to investigate his claims.

According to him, the communications work could have been done by city staff.

Bergeron said he brought up suspicions around framework agreements between the city and the two firms in 2008.

Communication firms deny Bergeron's allegations

Octane released a statement earlier today denying the allegations.

The company said all of its contracts with the city were obtained legally and that it has delivered proven documented results.

In the news release, the company said Bergeron is confusing "contracts" with "orders," stating that several orders can be part of one contract.

The communication firm also said Bergeron muddled the facts and created confusion.

Bergeron admits he has no proof of any illegal activity.

"We never use these services," he said. "We write by ourselves all our communiqués, our programs and so on."

In a separate news release issued later this afternoon, Morrow Communications said the company was in fact awarded $1.5 million for a framework agreement, but only completed $135,167 in services over three years.

The company said it was also asked to participate in a similar contract without being selected by city's committee.

"This proves to us that the allegations of favouritism are absurd," said Morrow Communications in its statement.