05/07/2014 05:51 EDT | Updated 07/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Projet Montréal questions city contract to Denis Coderre ally

Project Montréal councillor Alex Norris is calling on the city’s new inspector-general to look into a city contract awarded to a law firm that he says has ties to Mayor Denis Coderre.

Coderre says his office did nothing wrong by awarding the $20,000 contract to the law firm Malouin & Phaneuf to represent the city in talks related to the extension of bar opening hours to 6 a.m.

Norris says the contract was unnecessary and is calling it a case of political favoritism.

“The city's own legal department has this type of expertise,” Norris told CBC News.

Norris said two of the firm’s partners participated in Coderre's campaign for mayor last fall, including Richard Phaneuf who served as a top campaign strategist. 

“This has the appearance of the use of public money to reward major supporters of the mayor's campaign and it's completely inappropriate,” Norris said.

He is now calling for the city’s new inspector-general Denis Gallant to look into the matter.

Coderre created the inspector-general post to weed out corruption linked to the awarding of city contracts.

Coderre’s chief of staff, Denis Dolbec, is on the record saying he recommended the firm without considering others for the contract.

City policy stipulates that a call for tenders is not necessary for contracts under $25,000.

However, Norris noted that other city regulations on purchasing suggest that alternative quotes be sought before awarding contracts.

Denis Coderre stood by the decision, saying the firm is competent.

He said the city had no choice but to seek outside help and act quickly because municipal lawyers were threatening to go on strike at the time.