Québec company sues N.B. government over cancelled snowplow contract
A Québec company is suing the New Brunswick government over its decision to cancel a 2015 contract to purchase snowplows.
Les Produits Métalliques A.T. Inc. has filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of Québec, seeking $88,982.76 for lost profits and $30,000 for exemplary damages.
The court case stems from a public tender call by the New Brunswick government in April 2015 to build and supply snow-removal equipment.
According to court documents, the Québec company had the lowest bid and was awarded the contract on May 13, 2015.
The province submitted a purchase order on June 15, but the company claims it learned on June 22 through the media that the contract had been withdrawn and awarded to a New Brunswick company, which was the second-lowest bidder.
"[The company] alleges that this turnaround is the result of pressure to favor a local business," stated the court document.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Criticism sparks decision to cancel contract
The decision to cancel the contract came just hours after the Opposition said the government could have awarded the contract for 27 plows to Craig Manufacturing of Hartland.
In a letter circulated on social media, Craig Manufacturing owner Ben Craig said his bid was only $60 higher per plow when compared with the Québec bid.
Opposition critic Brian Macdonald said at the time that the New Brunswick government had also increased the order from the Quebec company with another 10 plows.
He said the decision not to go with the New Brunswick company was a case of incompetence.
Roger Melanson, who was transportation minister at the time, said that cancelling the contract was the right thing to do.
He said the province would review how things were done and to see if any improvements could be made.
N.B. argues for jurisdictional immunity
The New Brunswick government has argued that the case should be heard in its province and not in Québec.
The province argued it had jurisdictional immunity and couldn't be prosecuted in Québec, that the Québec courts didn't have jurisdiction over the dispute, and that a New Brunswick court would be the best forum even if the Superior Court of Québec has jurisdiction.
Justice Simon Ruel dismissed all of those arguments in a decision dated Feb. 21 of this year.
"New Brunswick would not suffer any serious inconvenience if proceedings were held in Québec," Ruel wrote in French in his decision.
The judge's decision was later upheld by the Québec Court of Appeal in a March 16 decision.
There's no word when the civil trial will take place.
— with files from The Canadian Press