POLITICS

Diane Finley's Alleged Interference 'Shocking,' Quebec Centre Says

03/12/2015 05:19 EDT | Updated 05/12/2015 05:59 EDT
Canadian Press
A western Quebec centre for people with disabilities says allegations made by suspended Sen. Patrick Brazeau about Conservatives interfering in a funding process are "shocking" and it would seek an investigation if they're true.

On Wednesday night, Brazeau tweeted the Jean Bosco Centre in Maniwaki, Que., had been promised funding for a $4-million renovation. He then accused the Conservatives of pulling the money after Lawrence Cannon lost the Pontiac riding to the NDP's Mathieu Ravignat in the 2011 federal election.

The tweets accused Public Works Minister Diane Finley and Nigel Wright, the prime minister's former chief of staff, of intervening in the application process.

​This comes after Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson released a report that found Finley breached the Conflict of Interest Act by circumventing the standard approval process, which then gave more than a million dollars in federal funding to a Markham, Ont.-based community centre.

Most of that funding was later withdrawn when the centre couldn't get the right construction permits and ran into unexpected cost increases owing to the state of the building.

The Jean Bosco Centre, which offers activities for people with disabilities, had asked for $3 million from the federal government in 2010 for detailed renovations, according to director general Khelil Hamitouche.

The centre learned in 2012 it had not "scored highly enough" and would not receive funding, Hamitouche added.

No paperwork to prove Brazeau's allegations

Hamitouche, who started at the centre in May 2014, said there's no paperwork to prove Brazeau's allegations. He did say, if there is any basis to the tweets, the centre wants answers.

"If the Centre Jean Bosco has been ripped off from something it was supposed to have, then yes, definitely [we would want an investigation]," he said.

"It's very shocking because the procedures [would] have been biased."

In question period Thursday, both Liberal and New Democrat MPs targeted Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finley about Brazeau's allegations and the ethics commissioner's report. Harper wasn't in the House.

"We don't know how it happened, but we know the result," Ravignat said.

Finley maintained she had no personal connection to the Markham centre and denies any conflict of interest or involvement in the funding process.

The Jean Bosco Centre's newest renovation plans cost about $2.5-million, and $1.6-million of the funding has been sought from the federal government, Hamitouche said. That request was made last week.

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