Coleman invites AG to review paving contract

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James McLeod
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Update: Coleman backtracks on comments about son, minister meeting

Premier-in-waiting Frank Coleman says he’d be happy to see the auditor general scrutinize a controversial deal between the government and his former company, Humber Valley Paving.

Frank Coleman speaks to reporters at Confederation Building. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

All this week in the House of Assembly, opposition parties have been hammering away at the government for more information about the paving contract.

The NDP has been demanding that the auditor general look at it.

Coleman said he’d be fine with that.

“I would welcome the auditor general to do his duty, and if he saw fit, to look into this, I would welcome him to come in,” he said. “The Department of Transportation acted, in my view, perfectly in this matter.”

Coleman has refused requests to do interviews, but he spoke to reporters who were waiting for him in the lobby of Confederation Building following a meeting with the PC party caucus.

“I think I’ve said everything I had to say about it, but I’m happy to take more questions,” Coleman said.

Humber Valley paving was let out of a money-losing multi-million-dollar contract to pave sections of the Trans-Labrador Highway earlier this year, around the same time that Coleman declared himself as a candidate for the leadership of the PC party.

The renegotiated contract happened after a conversation between Coleman’s son, Gene Coleman, and Transportation Minister Nick McGrath.

But despite the fact that McGrath told reporters earlier this week that he negotiated personally with Gene Coleman, when Frank Coleman spoke to media Wednesday, he denied that.

“I don’t believe that representatives of the company dealt directly with the minister. They dealt with officials within the department to reach a conclusion, and their legal counsels,” Frank Coleman said.

“My son and other members of our company would have spoken directly to the officials. This would have been a decision by officials within the department to make this decision, and they would have made recommendations to the minister.”

After the interview, Coleman's spokeswoman, Carmel Turpin, contacted the Telegram to clarify his comments.

"Mr. Coleman did not intend to deny that his son, Gene, spoke to Minister McGrath," Turpin wrote in an e-mail. "It was simply that he was not aware of the details of whom Gene was speaking with in the department as Mr. Coleman had removed himself from the day to day operations of the Humber Valley Paving. Sorry for the confusion this may have caused."

Coleman said he sold his shares of the company and resigned from the board, but he wouldn’t say who the shares were sold to.

Coleman said, “I think you know the new shareholder of the company,” but the Telegram has been unable to identify who currently owns the company. That information is not publicly disclosed.

Coleman said whoever owns the company, it’s not in his family’s hands anymore.

“I’m not hiding any information, I’m just telling you that my shares were transacted and went to other members of the company,” he said. “My family owned the shares in Humber Valley Paving and there is a new owner that has declared himself, and his last name is not Coleman.”

However, the provincial government registry of companies only lists two directors on the board of Humber Valley Paving — Michael Coleman and Robert Coleman.

The ownership of a company is not disclosed on the registry of companies website; the directors of a company are the only information about a company’s management structure that is disclosed.

After his only competitor dropped out of the race, Coleman became the province’s next premier by default on April 17, but he will not take over the job until July when the PC party holds a convention to formally ratify his leadership.

Coleman was in Confederation Building Wednesday morning speaking to a meeting of the Progressive Conservative caucus.

He would not say if the Humber Valley Paving scandal came up during the meeting.

“A lot of issues came up, and we discussed them,” Coleman said. “When I met with the caucus we talked about the convention, we talked about leadership, we talked about my progress to date, and you know, a bunch of different things.”

Organizations: Department of Transportation, Humber Valley Paving, Trans-Labrador Highway

Geographic location: Humber Valley

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Recent comments

  • Taxpayer#1
    May 09, 2014 - 21:56

    It's wonderful how you can connect the dots by searching the CADO,Registry of Deeds,PPSA. These are public information documents but you can learn a lot about a person or business and some interesting dates. It's a wonder anyone can keep up with so many coleman companies

  • Taxpayer#1
    May 09, 2014 - 21:55

    It's wonderful how you can connect the dots by searching the CADO,Registry of Deeds,PPSA. These are public information documents but you can learn a lot about a person or business and some interesting dates. It's a wonder anyone can keep up with so many coleman companies

  • Taxpayer
    May 09, 2014 - 21:43

    It's wonderful how you can connect the dots by searching the ==CADO==Registry of Deeds===PPSA. These are public information documents but you can learn a lot about a person or business and some interesting dates. It's a wonder anyone can keep up with so many coleman companies.

  • bobby
    May 07, 2014 - 22:51

    NL is still way behind the times, the roads are a joke in the province.

  • bobby
    May 07, 2014 - 22:49

    NL is still way behind the times, the roads are a joke in the province.

  • Dwayne
    May 07, 2014 - 22:31

    Mr. Coleman is quickly learning how to move his lips and say nothing. Perhaps he was practicing this skill in caucus meeting today.

  • Concerned
    May 07, 2014 - 18:20

    Everyone knows that all decisions being made for HVP were being made by Frank and his mainland partner, not Gene. Just ask anyone who sold or provided this company with any type of service or product who they dealt with, it wasn't Gene.

  • SayWhat
    May 07, 2014 - 17:53

    You would think the soon-to-be Premier meeting with Caucus would be a great media event. All the Tory MHA's cheering, the big photo ops for the paper and evening news. Hundreds of civil servants in the lobby just like they were there when Dunderdale left and Marshall was announced temporary Premier. Instead he slithered in Confederation Building but he did not slither out. After today we now know government tabled an undated letter in the House of Assembly yesterday, and there is now a legal opinion out there, but government won't table it. So much for open government. By the way, Coleman looks rather haggard these days. To Dwight Ball and the Liberals, keep up the good work because everyday we are learning something new. To Premier Marshall, time to table the legal opinion. We the people paid for it, we the people deserve to see it.

  • Labrador resident
    May 07, 2014 - 15:45

    In August of 2013 HVP abandoned their project on the Trans Labrador highway for approximately 2 months. HVP was the sub contractor for Mike Kelly’s & Sons to crush stone. How could HVP cry hardships when they left their own contract to do another for Kelly’s at such a crucial time in the Labrador construction season. Auditor General welcomed as more will come to light. ***Hardships??? There was much more profit in the crushing rather than dealing with all the labor costs, hauling of tar, fuel and plant mix to do the asphalt portion of this contract. HVP already had most of the profit out of the job as it was front loaded. That means they made most of the money from the crushing, moving and laying the stone. Better yet, they even got paid by government for the stock piles. Why would they want to complete the contract. HVP just followed the sub contract. What they had left on their contract was big $$$ to complete. Leave government and the residents of Labrador on the hook.

  • Robb
    May 07, 2014 - 14:18

    Excellent. I can see the AG coming in and clearing this up pronto, and leave all the doomsday liberals with muck on their faces. I mean, how stupid do the liberals look on this. What are the liberals hiding? They have nothing to offer, so they try at all costs to bash the opposition. These are pure lowlife liberal tactics, and they just sicken you. If we listened to the liberals, we are all going to hell in a hand basket, but this is only what they want you to believe. Things have never been better in NL and Lab, and this just scares the liberals, so they need some story to take the focus off of them. Well, liberals, I can see the PCs taking the next election, as you people are just digging that hole your in much deeper.

    • Tony Rockel
      May 07, 2014 - 14:38

      LOL!!! I'm no Liberal supporter, but you are obviously a Tory PR hack. Talk about whistling in the dark. You and your cronies are on a one way trip to the garbage heap of NL history and deservedly so.

    • Tony Rockel
      May 07, 2014 - 14:41

      LOL!!! I'm no Liberal supporter, but you are obviously a Tory PR hack. Talk about whistling in the dark. You and your cronies are on a one way trip to the garbage heap of NL history and deservedly so.

    • Maxwell J.
      May 07, 2014 - 16:03

      Assuming the AG is given an unfettered mandate to review this matter, and assuming his report exonerates both Coleman and government, why would that leave muck on Liberal faces? Have you no concept of what it is our elected representatives in the legislature are supposed to do - what opposition parties are supposed to do? They are there to protect the interests of the taxpayer. This was a matter involving some $31 million in public funds that was decided in favour of a company with very big ties to the party in power. Reportedly it was decided by a minister without any paper work to back it up. At the very least, a minister making such a decision would take every possible precaution to ensure there was not only no political wrongdoing but to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing. So the opposition is simply doing the job they were elected to do. The fact you have a problem with that tells me you're not just an ordinary member of the public voicing your opinion - your one of those 50 plus communications people whose job it is to sway public opinion. So let's all sit back now and wait to see if Marshall follows through on Coleman's suggestion.

  • What price, the Tory Leadership?
    May 07, 2014 - 13:34

    Did you, as a condition for running for the Tory leadership, require that the government release your company, Humber Valley Paving (HVP) from the roadwork contract in Labrador?

    • Maurice E. Adams
      May 07, 2014 - 13:53

      Looks that way, doesn't it?

    • Corporate Psycho
      May 07, 2014 - 17:21

      For sure.

  • Worried Look
    May 07, 2014 - 12:18

    Frank 'by; that's one worried look on your face; get used to as you'll be grilled on a go-forward basis. Usually, a puppeteer paints a brighter face on his favourite puppets.

    • Robb
      May 07, 2014 - 14:22

      So worried look, what are you in, grade 2. Puppets..??...surely you liberal jokers can come up with something a little more intelligent. Well, maybe not, hence the grade 2 school yard comments. And to Maurice, don't be so angry.

  • Tony Rockel
    May 07, 2014 - 12:05

    To paraphrase Shakespeare, all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little deal.

  • W bagg
    May 07, 2014 - 11:59

    I like this quote from Coleman........."My son and other members of our company would have spoken directly to the officials. " Our company? I thought you sold it.