Minister’s resignation demanded over paving contract

James McLeod
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McGrath says he dealt with Coleman’s son

Transportation Minister Nick McGrath said he had never personally intervened to renegotiate a government contract before he stepped in to let the future premier’s son out of a problematic paving obligation in Labrador.

But McGrath said that he was dealing with Gene Coleman — the son of Frank Coleman, who will become premier in July — because Gene Coleman was the representative for Humber Valley Paving, and the father-son relationship was never a factor.

“I take my job very professionally, and I think I’m doing a professional job there,” McGrath told reporters Tuesday.

“You keep bringing up the incoming premier’s son. I don’t deal with the individual. I deal with the company. I dealt with Humber Valley Paving, and Gene Coleman was the spokesperson at the time.”

Tuesday was another rough ride for Frank Coleman in the House of Assembly. Coleman wasn’t present, and he won’t become premier until after the July PC party convention.

Coleman resigned from the company board and sold his shares just days before his son — also on the company board of directors — spoke to McGrath about cancelling the contract.


No more interviews on subject

The Telegram requested an interview with Coleman about the issues raised in the legislature, but his spokeswoman, Carmel Turpin, said that he will not do any more interviews on the issue at this time.

In the legislature, the Liberals hammered away at McGrath, using most of their time in question period to press for information about a decision to let Humber Valley Paving out of a money-losing contract to do work on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

“We’re talking about a deal that took place between the son of the incoming premier, the company involving the incoming premier and the government involving taxpayers’ money — millions of dollars — and there’s no documentation to show what transpired here,” Liberal House Leader Andrew Parsons said. “The incompetence here is staggering.”

The Liberals' question period performance culminated with Parsons listing a litany of problems with the Humber Valley Paving contract and closing by saying, "I ask the minister: Will you do the right thing and resign?"

McGrath seemed to ignore the comment.

The Liberals have said that by letting Humber Valley Paving out of a pair of bonds related to completion of the contract, the government effectively gave the company a benefit worth $19 million.

In fact, McGrath said, that’s not true. The bonds are a form of insurance that the company bought from a third-party provider. By releasing the company, the government wasn’t giving them back $19 million; it was just saying it wouldn’t try to claim that insurance money — which McGrath said the government likely wouldn’t have been able to get anyway.

With suspicion of backroom dealings and conflict of interest, New Democrat MHA George Murphy said the only way to clear the air is for the government to ask the Auditor General to review the whole situation.

“There’s genuinely good reason to be concerned about a potential here for a conflict of interest to happen. That, to me, is a good reason why you would do that,” Murphy said. “I think everybody’s got a lot of faith in the auditor general.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

* information has been added to the original article.

Organizations: Trans-Labrador Highway, Liberal House

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Recent comments

  • Trish
    May 07, 2014 - 15:28

    EDfromRed I think you hit the nail on the head. The PC party past and present are all in it for their own deep pockets. Alot of covering up and conspiracy going on. Knowone needs a mophia around here we got the PC party taking over. This is obviously not about the people or the Province. It's business men getting rich with our hard earned tax payer dollars. I hope people protest this the obvious is really sticking right out for all to see.

  • Tony Rockel
    May 07, 2014 - 11:31

    The Water Street merchants never died: they just climb out of their coffins at dawn and go to work gouging the NL populace the way they always did.

  • EDfromRED
    May 07, 2014 - 09:45

    Millionaires, Nalcor and the Sin Jawns Elites run the PC Party. What an arrogant and corrupt bunch. No wonder crime is booming --the biggest crooks are in charge!!

  • tony
    May 07, 2014 - 09:30

    If HVP had a contract with a private company would they have responded like transportation? Frankly, I don't think so.

  • First you fire all the PR staff....
    May 07, 2014 - 09:28

    To Harvery & Karl: Do you not realize how bloodly obvious you are with these bits of partisan nonsense? Do you think we're all so stund that we don't know your posts come directly from PC HQ - maybe even from the boy scout blackberry. You can't throw a stick inside the Confederation Building without hitting a communications consultant, PR flack, or executive assistant in charge of BS. With all that high priced talent roaming around at taxpayer expense, surely you could find someone a little more convincing for these anonymous posts.

  • Trish
    May 07, 2014 - 08:40

    I think the paving issue is a big red flag. This is the person that is going to be running our province. Something odd is going on. I always liked Danny Williams but to me now it's like the plot thickens. I really think there is an ulterior motive to this whole thing. Something very fishy is going on. Personally I don't think these men are trustworthy. It's like they have something up their sleeve. I absolutely didn't want Bill Barry to get in, but what Danny did was all wrong. Danny served his time and he stepped down. So why is he still shooting his mouth? To me I really think there are some sneaky snakes taking over. I think there is a conspiracy. I never vote, but if given a choice I would vote now. I know a rat when I see one.

  • family man not party man
    May 07, 2014 - 08:16

    It is time to hear from Gene Coleman...unless the PC's have him gagged too, like they have his father. Frank, do yourself and your family a favor, get out of this race now. Your ego is not big enough to warrant putting your family through this, and it is only going to get worse.

  • Rat Poison
    May 07, 2014 - 07:43

    If you can't smell a rat in this matter Minister McGrath, I'd suggest you go back to your old job of trapping them; your apprendiceship hasn't taught you a single thing.

  • Harvey
    May 07, 2014 - 07:39

    I had fully intended to vote liberal in the next prov. election. However, I have become totally turned off by the antics of Ball and his MHAs. Wrapping his arms around scurrying rodents, not saying what his personal view is on abortion,etc. etc. Can't stomach it.

  • Karl
    May 07, 2014 - 07:15

    I'm not much of a party person myself I usually vote for the person, But with the time guys like Andrew Parsons and Tom Osborne are wasting on this paving contract, When there is actual work to be doing sure makes me want to vote progressive conservative next time. Grow up school kids

      May 07, 2014 - 10:13

      SUGGESTION for Karl -unscale your PC eyes this once.