Home sweet home
It's nice to know the premier, says Mrdjenovich

NNSL (Nov 11/98) - During two days of testimony, developer Mike Mrdjenovich said he has never received favourable treatment from Premier Don Morin, the subject of the conflict of interest inquiry.

Mrdjenovich was asked by commission counsel Kent Davidson if there was nothing to be gained by it, why he spent time helping Morin find a home for his family.

"Why do we help other people we do business with?" responded Mrdjenovich. "It was just a straight business deal."

"It was business?" asked Davidson.

"And, it's nice to know the premier," said Mrdjenovich, to the amusement of the gallery. "He's kind of a likeable fellow after you get to know him."

Mrdjenovich showed Morin several houses and properties before eventually agreeing to build the premier the Latham Island luxury home he has leased from Mrdjenovich since early 1997.

Morin testified Monday that he and his family had been looking for a new home with a real estate agent before being helped by Mrdjenovich.

Mrdjenovich's company, Nova Construction, has flourished building housing and office projects for the territorial government. Responding to Davidson's questions, Mrdjenovich said his company has earned government business by keeping costs down and consistently delivering on his commitments.

Mrdjenovich's cost-consciousness was evident in his account of the design of Morin's house, a collaborative effort of Nova designer Mike Hilchey and the premier's wife, Gladys Morin. The premier had a small amount of input, but Mrdjenovich had the final say.

Though Mrdjenovich said Hilchey was a gifted designer, he also admitted he "does get carried away.

"My favourite expression to him is, 'Come down, come down, stop flying,'" said Mrdjenovich.

After several design meetings with Gladys Morin, Hilchey told Mrdjenovich the premier's wife had expensive tastes.

Mrdjenovich, who had committed to delivering a satisfactory home for a monthly leasing cost of between $2,500 and $3,500, recalled instructing Hinchey, "Well, you try to convince her...to take something that looks like that, but is not as expensive."

Also to save costs, Mrdjenovich changed the location of the home on the lot. Don Morin and Hinchey wanted to build on a rise on the lot. Because it would save about $40,000 in blasting work, Mrdjenovich sacrificed some of the view for the savings.