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Calgary’s social procurement suppliers go through two-stage vetting: City

McLean, at one time, operated a business that bid on a City of Calgary contract.

The City of Calgary said they conduct a two-stage verification for its social procurement process, expecting suppliers to apply in an “honest, fair and comprehensive manner.”

Their response comes after LWC asked about the verification process in light of comments made Thursday by Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean about just being able to tick boxes as a potential supplier.

During questions from councillors about the social procurement policy at Thursday’s Executive Committee meeting, Coun. McLean recalled a bid he made 13 years ago for the Vancouver Olympics. At that time, McLean ran a business providing golf utility vehicles.

“They asked me if I had an Indigenous component and program. My daughter’s boyfriend was a First Nations guy, so I ticked yes. What’s your recycling program, what’s your environmental impact? And you know, I took my bottles in, I ticked yes,” he said.

“I mean, people can just tick the boxes and say a little story. I mean, is that where we’re at?”

In an email explanation, the City’s Supply Management business unit said they do audit suppliers under the social procurement policy.

“Potential suppliers are required to respond to The City’s procurement opportunities in an honest, fair and comprehensive manner,” they wrote.

“If a potential supplier has misrepresented their qualifications, sanctions may be applied, ranging from a formal warning to immediate termination of the Supplier’s business relationship including contractual affiliation with The City and possible disqualification or debarment from participating in future business and procurement opportunities with The City.”

When answering the social procurement questionnaire, supporting documentation or certifications are required. The first time through, it’s checked by the city’s automated technology platform.

Then, there is a second compliance stage performed by supply management, they said. The process for the questionnaire has been in place since 2020.

Words matter: Mayor Gondek

Later in Thursday’s conversation, Mayor Jyoti Gondek called McLean out for his comments.

“I also need to point out that we just had a member of council openly admit that he scammed the system on a bid,” she said.

“He openly admitted in public that he checked off boxes that shouldn’t have been checked off.”

The mayor suggested that it could be a code of conduct violation. According to the Code of Conduct for Elected Officials, Item 4, under Application, states: “This Bylaw applies to Members of Council.”

Coun. McLean attempted to clarify his comments later in the debate.  He said he did have a First Nations person working for him, and a recycling program.

“That was not gaming the system,” he said.

“It was a matter of … ticking the box – that was not illegal, it was not a scam. It was just being able to tick a box, which I find that if we just have to tick a box, what are we gaining by this?’

Outside council chambers on Thursday, Mayor Gondek said that Coun. McLean needs to be mindful of the comments he makes.

“When a member of council raises something that sends off alarm bells, it’s important to point it out,” the mayor said.

“I do hope that he’s able to understand that words matter.”

Later, McLean said that the mayor miscommunicated what he said.