WESTERN QUEBEC – Many Western Quebec School Board members lost confidence in Colin O’Shea, their Senior Director of Buildings and Transportation. During a lengthy October 29 Council of Commissioners, the board adopted a resolution aiming to terminate O’Shea’s contract. The board has not yet published the meeting’s minutes, some of which were in-camera, but according to an anonymous source, two commissioners voted against this motion.
“The resolution gives the board a mandate to initiate procedures to terminate O’Shea’s contract,” confirmed Paul Lamoureux, Director General of the WQSB. “The board will meet with O’Shea to find suitable solutions for both parties.”
The move follows a Radio-Canada report suggesting an apparent, but unproven conflict of interest involving O’Shea and Marcel Raymond, who owns Construction GMR Inc and Toitures Marcel Raymond in Gatineau.
The news network reported that the WQSB signed 31 contracts worth $33 million with Raymond’s companies over the last decade. One problem is that O’Shea, who signed many of these contracts, “acquired”, to quote Radio-Canada’s report, a condo in Hull, worth $700,000, from one of Raymond’s companies, something O’Shea omitted from his annual declaration of interest.
Following the report, the WQSB mandated an external professional accounting firm to comb through their contracts. The firm should table its report in January 2014. The board also placed O’Shea, employed by the board for the past 30 years, on a paid leave of absence since fall. The board is hoping to agree on O’Shea’s fate before the holidays.
Regardless of the situation, if Construction GMR Inc or Toitures Marcel Raymond bid on WQSB contracts and is the lowest compliant bidder, the school board must select them. “As a public organism, we can’t ignore them,” said Lamoureux.
The WQSB will be inviting tenders to bid shortly on a building maintenance contract. If GMR obtains this important contract, it will maintain a long-standing relationship between both parties. For years, the board has dealt with Construction GMR Inc.
In 2008, the WQSB exchanged their former head office for the construction of their new head office. Colin O’Shea and School Board Chairman, Michael Chiasson, signed this contract for the WQSB.