01/30/2013 05:09 EST | Updated 04/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Transport ministry tightens controls for selection committee membership

Quebec’s Transport Minister Sylvain Gaudreault said he is reviewing the regulations for members of transport ministry selection committees, following testimony yesterday by a Montreal engineer at the province's corruption inquiry.

On Wednesday, Michel Lalonde, CEO of a Montreal-area engineering firm told the commission he paid a member of a transport ministry selection committee in exchange for contracts.

Gaudreault said, in light of the testimony, members of the committees will now have to sign a declaration of interest form to register their financial and other interests that could potentially conflict with their role.

“It will be a declaration that is signed under the selection committee member’s honour… it is something serious,” Gaudreault told reporters in Quebec City on Wednesday.

Gaudreault said he has also asked his deputy minister to propose further ways to tighten the controls on selection committee members.

Lalonde, the president of Génius Conseil — formerly known as Groupe Séguin — has been testifying before the province's corruption commission for several days.

On Tuesday, Lalonde said his engineering firm gave gifts to Claude Millaire, who sat on Transport Québec selection committees, including a cell phone for which the firm paid the bill over the course of several years.

He said he also handed over $25,000 cash to Millaire. He said Millaire was the only member of the selection committee that his firm paid.

Gaudreault said Millaire, a retired civil servant from the provincial health ministry, has not been a member of Transport Québec selection committees since 2011.

The minister admitted he did not know more about Millaire’s background, but said that members of the committees are selected for their expertise about work sites or the awarding of contracts and that efforts are made to include representatives from outside the transport ministry.

Gaudreault said his ministry is also reviewing the composition of the group at the ministry that is responsible for choosing members of selection committees that decide on the awarding of contracts.

“We want to make sure it isn’t always the same people,” he said.