In January, the Yukon government sole-sourced a $52,000 contract to install blinds in the athletes’ village.
At the time, Community Services special project manager JoAnne Harach confirmed the contract “did not go out to public tender.”
Now, five months later, Community Services is passing the buck.
“The tendering on the project was handled by the Canada Winter Games Host Society,” Community Services Minister Glenn Hart said in legislature on Tuesday.
Not true, said Woodbine Window Coverings owner Norm Smith.
In August, still hoping to bid on the project, Smith approached the host society and was told it was no longer dealing with the tender.
He was referred to Yukon Housing Corp., under Community Services.
At the time, Harach told Smith the project would follow government tendering guidelines.
He was told government would use its source list and invite local suppliers to bid on the work.
It didn’t happen.
And Smith is still waiting for answers.
On January 22, he wrote a letter to Harach asking: Who was awarded the sole-sourced contract to supply and install window coverings, how much the contract was worth, who the cheque was made out to and why didn’t the project go to tender?
Smith didn’t get a response.
On April 19th, he sent the letter again, this time to his MLA Archie Lang.
Lang didn’t respond.
“The fact that none of my questions have been answered, and that I have not even received the courtesy of a reply is a little suspicious,” said Smith.
“If everything had been done by the book surely I would have been made aware of the facts.”
Smith wants to know who issued the cheque to pay for the project.
“If that contract was paid by a YTG cheque then they have completely disregarded YTG purchasing guidelines,” he said.
“And since it’s Yukon Housing, I presume it’s a YTG cheque.”
After sole-sourcing the contract, Yukon Housing was apologetic, said Smith.
“We ran out of time; we priorized our construction projects; we focused on our construction projects; we’ve delivered our construction projects — now we’ve delivered the furnishing,” Harach told the News in early February.
“Some people are unhappy — I’m sorry about that.”
If it were a host society contract, Yukon Housing wouldn’t have accepted responsibility like this, said Smith.
“(Community Services) could have just said, ‘Look, this is a host society contract and it didn’t have to go out for tender’ — but they didn’t say that.”
But on Tuesday, Community Services changed its tune and blamed the host society.
“I think (Hart) just threw that out there,” said Smith.
“I don’t think he’s even looked into it.
“If it was a host society contract, let’s see who made out the cheque.”
Hart refused to be interviewed on this subject.
“He said it’s an issue for the host society,” government communications spokesperson Albert Peterson said on Tuesday.
Trying to shirk responsibility by blaming the host society is a copout, said Smith.
“If it’s above board, why haven’t they replied to all the questions I asked?”
“This is a specific example of a much bigger problem that plagues the Yukon business community,” Liberal Don Inverarity said in legislature on Tuesday.
“The problem is this government’s eagerness to sole source contracts at the expense of local businesses.”
There are regulations in place to stop this sort of thing, and to protect public money, said Smith.
The government has no business making decisions based on its own personal bias, he added.
“They have to follow the regulations, and they have to be held accountable or what’s the point?
“If there were no regulations you could elect a government that would turn into a puppet dictatorship and rip everybody off.”
A review of the contracting process and the appeal process is currently underway and should be completed this year, Hart told the legislature.