The Sad Reality of Liberal Partisans’ Response to Trudeau’s Scandal

‘Vote for us — we’ll screw you over in favour of cronies less often’ is hardly a pro-democracy campaign slogan.COVER.Trudeau-Two.jpg
Justin Trudeau promised a new way of doing politics. But his response to the ethics commissioner’s report on the SNC-Lavalin scandal was sadly familiar. Photo via Justin Trudeau Flickr.

The ethics commissioner’s report into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s abuse of power is depressing on many levels, from the sordid facts to the confirmation of the government’s past dishonesty to Trudeau’s attempt to dodge guilt.

But the saddest thing was the response of Liberal partisans.

The report is a litany of serious wrongdoing. Commissioner Mario Dion found the “authority of the prime minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the director of public prosecutions as well as the authority of [Jody] Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer.”

Trudeau and his team were working to advance SNC-Lavalin’s “significant financial interests in deferring prosecution” on bribery and corruption charges. “The evidence showed that private political interests were also put before Ms. Wilson‑Raybould, directly or indirectly, on at least four separate occasions,” the report found. (Which the government had repeatedly and falsely denied.)

And the report also found Trudeau and company continued to push Wilson-Raybould to let SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution long after she made it clear that the actions were improper.

The findings leave the Liberals’ past denials of wrongdoing in tatters.

Trudeau’s response was the kind of political slipperiness that leaves voters dispirited.

He said Wednesday he accepts the report and takes responsibility “for everything that happened.”

But at the same time he said he disagrees with many of the findings, as if the report of the independent ethics commissioner was some sort of opinion, rather than a careful finding of fact.

And in the next breath Trudeau effectively denied wrongdoing. “I can’t apologize for standing up for Canadian jobs,” he said.

How many jobs? If SNC-Lavalin is convicted, it will be barred from bidding on federal government contracts for 10 years. But the work would go ahead. Other companies would bid, and would hire people to fill the jobs.

The company employs about 8,800 people in Canada. Not all of them work on federal projects. But say one-third of the jobs would be lost — that’s about 2,900 people. (Who still might be hired by the companies that do win the work.)

Some 3,900 workers have lost their jobs in the B.C. forest industry this year. Where is Trudeau’s willingness to stand up for their jobs? MORE

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Gormley: SNC-Lavalin scandal is back and will haunt PM

 

Critics call for new rules for retired judges in wake of SNC-Lavalin affair

Judges judged: Former Justice John Major, left; former Justice Frank Iacobucci, and former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

OTTAWA—The jury’s out on the judges.

As Justin Trudeau again refused to apologize Thursday after ethics commissioner Mario Dion found the prime minister violated the conflict of interest law by attempting to interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, some critics turned their attention to the role played in the affair by three former Supreme Court of Canada judges.

Dion’s damning report put the blame squarely on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s shoulders for pressuring his former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to cut a deal to allow the Quebec engineering firm to escape criminal conviction.

But the report released Wednesday also shone a harsh light on the conduct of retired justices Frank Iacobucci and John Major and former chief justice Beverley McLachlin, who got involved to differing extents at the company’s behest.

And it has prompted new calls for tougher guidelines for former judges. MORE

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Ethics Report Shows How Ex-Supreme Court Justices Got Involved In SNC-Lavalin Affair
Canadians want limits on post-retirement work for judges, survey finds
SNC-Lavalin report puts new focus on activities of retired Supreme Court of Canada judges

 

Justin Trudeau broke ethics law in SNC-Lavalin affair: commissioner


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in Montreal on July 17, 2019. Photo by Josie Desmarais

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held firm to his belief that his actions in the SNC-Lavalin affair were justified, hours after Canada’s ethics watchdog slammed him for violating federal law.

“I can’t apologize for standing up for Canadian jobs,” Trudeau told reporters Wednesday afternoon in the southern Ontario town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Trudeau inappropriately pressured former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer the Montreal-based engineering firm the option to avoid criminal prosecution on corruption charges, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion found.

Hours after Dion’s investigation was released, the Prime Minister’s Office put out a related, more favourable review, authored by a former Liberal cabinet member and dated late June.

“The authority of the Prime Minister and his office was used to circumvent, undermine and ultimately attempt to discredit the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions as well as the authority of Ms. Wilson‑Raybould as the Crown’s chief law officer,” Dion said in a statement.

Trudeau later told reporters in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where he was previously scheduled to make a different announcement, that he did “fully accept this (Dion’s) report and take responsibility for everything that happened,” but that he also disagreed with some of the commissioner’s conclusions.

The SNC-Lavalin affair rocked Canadian politics earlier this year, a drama that unfolded over several months and involved high-profile resignations, secretly recorded phone calls and explosive committee testimony.

Trudeau, along with senior advisors in his office and elsewhere in government, repeatedly asked Wilson-Raybould late last year and into 2019 about allowing SNC-Lavalin to avoid criminal prosecution.

This was after the public prosecution service had already determined that a so-called deferred prosecution agreement should not be offered to the company.

Dion said Trudeau’s actions were contrary to Section 9 of the Conflict of Interest Act, which bars government officials responsible for high-level decision-making from influencing the decision of another person to “improperly further another person’s private interests.”

Dion’s report was expected in early September, but released without warning Wednesday. Hours later, the PMO released a separate report by former attorney general Anne McLellan, who was appointed in March to look into whether the roles of justice minister and attorney general should be separated in light of the SNC-Lavalin affair. Trudeau revealed yesterday that the McLellan report would not be released before the ethics commissioner’s.

The commissioner’s report is titled Trudeau II, a reference to the fact that this is the second time Trudeau has been investigated by the office. In December 2017, the office found that Trudeau had violated conflict of interest rules when he and his family vacationed on the Aga Khan’s private island.

“I will be taking all precautions in the future,” Trudeau told media at the time.

The prime minister had already accepted responsibility in March for being blind to an “erosion of trust” between his office and Wilson-Raybould. “I was not aware of that erosion of trust. As prime minister and leader of the federal ministry, I should have been,” he said.

But at that time, as on Wednesday, he did not apologize for the affair, and continued to say there was “no inappropriate pressure” placed on the former justice minister. MORE

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Trudeau’s Ethics Violation Is ‘Political Dynamite’

The SNC-Lavalin scandal is back in the headlines. And that’s very bad news for the Liberals’ re-election hopes.

Is Trudeau in for another hit in the polls because of the SNC-Lavalin ethics report?

Liberal support dropped 7 points after controversy broke, and has yet to fully recover

The secretive role of SNC-Lavalin in the Site C dam

SiteCAerial2.jpg
Site C dam costs likely over $10 billion, completion date in doubt. Photo by Bob Fedderly.

The embattled company is reaping millions in public money from no-bid contracts for British Columbia’s third hydro dam on the Peace River — a project that is already billions of dollars over budget

SNC-Lavalin has received approximately $120 million in direct award Site C dam contracts, obscuring the embattled engineering firm’s role in building the largest publicly funded infrastructure project in B.C.’s history.

For one contract, SNC-Lavalin provided BC Hydro with a “shadow estimate” — number-crunching to confirm BC Hydro’s figure — for its forecasted $8.335 billion price tag for the dam, The Narwhal found after reviewing Site C documents.

The estimate proved to be wildly wrong, missing the mark by $2 billion.

But that hasn’t stopped SNC-Lavalin — which has been banned from World Bank infrastructure contracts for 10 years following allegations of bribery schemes in Bangladesh — from reaping years of no-bid work on the Site C dam for engineering design services.

Direct award contracts allow BC Hydro and other public bodies to decide which companies or consultants get contracts, instead of going through a more transparent and competitive tender process.

On Wednesday, a Quebec judge ruled that SNC-Lavalin must stand trial on charges of fraud and corruption for allegedly paying $47.7 million in bribes to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011. The RCMP has also charged SNC-Lavalin, its construction division and a subsidiary with one charge each of fraud and corruption for allegedly swindling almost $130 million from various Libyan organizations.

SNC-Lavalin also grossly underestimated cost of Muskrat Falls dam

SNC-Lavalin also played a major role in the cost estimate for the hugely over-budget Muskrat Falls dam on the lower Churchill River in Labrador, now the subject of a two-year inquiry to determine why the project proceeded. MORE

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Nine things B.C. can learn from the Muskrat Falls dam inquiry

SNC-Lavalin will stand trial on criminal corruption charges, Quebec judge rules

VIDEO: The Conservatives accused the Liberals on Tuesday of “rewriting the rules” over reported illegal campaign contributions, stating they “sat on the information.”

SNC-Lavalin will stand trial on criminal corruption charges linked to its alleged business activities in Libya under former dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

A Quebec judge ruled Wednesday morning that prosecutors have enough evidence to sustain a trial of the Montreal engineering giant, which stands accused of fraud and bribing Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011 to get contracts.

The evidence is under a publication ban.

READ MORE: SNC-Lavalin executives look at breaking up company ahead of potential criminal conviction

If convicted, the company could face being barred for up to 10 years from bidding on government contracts. MORE

Names of SNC employees, executives behind thousands of dollars in illegal Liberal Party donations revealed

Next election it seems you have a choice between the Green Party, The NDP, the Conservatives, or SNC-Lavalin.

Former attorney general of Quebec denies involvement in scheme that broke Canadian election law


An investigation by the Commissioner of Canada Elections revealed that between 2004 and 2009, 18 former SNC-Lavalin employees, directors and some spouses contributed nearly $110,000 to the federal Liberals. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

A confidential document sent to the Liberal Party of Canada in 2016, and obtained by CBC/Radio-Canada, reveals how top officials at the embattled engineering firm SNC-Lavalin were named in a scheme to illegally influence Canadian elections.

The list of names, compiled in 2016 by federal investigators probing political party donations and leaked to CBC’s The Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada’s Enquête, raises new questions about an agreement by the Commissioner of Canada Elections not to prosecute the company.

The federal Liberals were sent the list in a letter marked “confidential” from the Commissioner of Canada Elections — the independent office tasked with investigating election law violations — on Aug. 5, 2016. But for nearly three years, neither Elections Canada nor the Liberal Party shared that information publicly.

The investigation reveals that over a period of more than five years between 2004 and 2009, 18 former SNC-Lavalin employees, directors and some spouses contributed nearly $110,000 to the federal Liberals, including to four party leadership campaigns and four riding associations in Quebec.

According to the letter, the investigation found that SNC-Lavalin reimbursed all of those individual donations — a practice forbidden under the Canada Elections Act. MORE

 

Wilson-Raybould slams feds for ‘incremental’ progress on Indigenous rights recognition

 

Click to open video

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-RaybouldOTTAWA — Former Liberal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is slamming the federal government she was once a part of for making only “incremental” progress on the Indigenous justice file and their promise to “decolonialize” Canadian laws and policies.

“My fear and disappointment is that despite sounding the alarm, providing the advice, pushing and challenging, sharing perspectives of lived Indigenous experience… the federal government has fallen back once again into a pattern of trying to ‘manage the problem’ with Indigenous peoples and make incremental shifts rather than transforming the status quo,” Wilson-Raybould said during a keynote address on Wednesday at the First Nations Provincial Justice Forum in Vancouver. They were invited by the B.C.-based First Nations Justice Council.

She appeared alongside fellow newly-Independent MP Jane Philpott to deliver a joint address called: “From denial to recognition: the challenges of Indigenous justice in Canada.”

“Since I spoke to the leadership of British Columbia this past November, there have been a few developments, things have changed a bit,” Wilson-Raybould said early in her remarks, to laughter. “Perhaps not fully unexpected but certainly an eventful time,” she continued, appearing to reference the months-long controversy surrounding her allegations that she faced a sustained effort from senior government officials to attempt to pressure her to interfere in a criminal case against the Quebec engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin.

Wilson-Raybould framed her comments as her reflections and insights from her nearly three years as Canada’s first-ever Indigenous justice minister and attorney general, presented with the aim of informing these Indigenous leaders’ ongoing efforts to change the current justice system.

She said that she had “no illusion” about the reality of the system she was taking the helm of, but said that over the course of her time in cabinet she fought to challenge the way things had been done. MORE

What the SNC board may have known about the firm’s dealings in Libya — like the office safe with $10M cash

 

Corruption? Justin Trudeau has always stated that he was trying to protect the jobs of SNC-Lavalin employees and that obtaining a deferred prosecution agreement for the company was essential. Now it seems that there may as well have been a very different motive–protecting the 1% from liability. The NDP has called for a public enquiry to get to the truth. Your MP needs to know how you feel.

High-paid former directors could face tough questions if SNC-Lavalin bribery trial goes ahead


The SNC-Lavalin board in 2011. From top left: Ian A. Bourne, David Goldman, Patricia A. Hammick, Pierre H. Lessard, Edythe A. Parkinson-Marcoux and Lorna R. Marsden. From bottom left: Claude Mongeau, Gwyn Morgan, Michael D. Parker, Hugh D. Segal, Pierre Duhaime, Lawrence N. Stevenson. (SNC-Lavalin/CBC)

There’s no question that millions of dollars in bribes were paid to the Gadhafi regime in Libya to win lucrative contracts for SNC-Lavalin.

The former head of the company’s global construction arm admitted to bribery, corruption and money laundering in 2014. He pleaded guilty in a Swiss court.

But the Quebec-based engineering firm has long insisted that Riadh Ben Aïssa was acting alone and in secret.

Ben Aïssa has a very different story to tell. He is back in Canada after having spent more than two years in prison in Switzerland. He has turned on his former executives and board of directors and has been co-operating with police and prosecutors.

SNC-Lavalin has been lobbying hard behind the scenes to secure what’s called a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to avoid going to trial. The company, as well as its supporters in government, argue thousands of jobs are at risk if it is convicted and barred from bidding on federal contracts.

But a CBC News investigation reveals why 12 top directors who left the company years ago also have plenty at stake if the case goes to trial. SNC-Lavalin’s former board is an influential who’s who of the corporate elite that includes former senators, banking executives and members of the Order of Canada. They will all likely face close — and very public — scrutiny if called to testify about whether they knew of any corruption happening on their watch.

The board at the time comprised luminaries of the corporate world, including Sen. Hugh Segal, former senator and Liberal Party executive Lorna Marsden, four members of the Order of Canada, and heavyweights from the banking, energy and railways sectors.

  MORE

The hidden key to the SNC-Lavalin scandal


Left: Muammar Gaddafi in Addis Abeba on February 2, 2009, photo by Jesse B. on Wikimedia Commons. Right: File photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by Alex Tétreault

SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian corporate giant with an established history of corruption, is charged with bribing the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal regime over many years, in exchange for lucrative contracts.

This case is the most serious and important prosecution of corporate corruption in modern Canadian history, and we’re arguing about jobs and whether former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould is hard to get along with.

It is not only appropriate, but essential that this matter go to trial in an open and public hearing, so that Canadians can see how the world’s bloodiest tyrants are cossetted, indulged, and enabled.

Perhaps the most depressing spectacle of the entire affair is watching Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a man who clearly aspires to greatness, debase himself and this nation, by begging, pushing, imploring Canada’s attorney general to let this company off the hook.

Then effectively firing her when she wouldn’t comply, and allowing her credibility to be undermined.

Just what kind of story does he think SNC-Lavalin’s caught up in, Anne of Green Gables? MORE

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Terence Corcoran: Nothing about the SNC-Lavalin scandal will ever be clear until we open its black box

 

SNC-Lavalin warned of U.S. move, slashing workforce if no plea deal, documents show

SNC-Lavalin warned federal prosecutors in the fall of 2018 about a possible plan to split the company in two, move its offices to the United States and eliminate its Canadian workforce. File photo by The Canadian Press

SNC-Lavalin warned federal prosecutors last fall about a possible plan to split the company in two, move its offices to the United States and eliminate its Canadian workforce if it didn’t get a deal to avoid criminal prosecution, newly obtained documents show.

The documents, part of a PowerPoint presentation obtained by The Canadian Press, describe something called “Plan B” — what Montreal-based SNC might have to do if it can’t convince the government to grant a so-called remediation agreement to avoid criminal proceedings in a fraud and corruption case related to projects in Libya.

Under that plan, SNC would move its Montreal headquarters and corporate offices in Ontario and Quebec to the U.S. within a year, cutting its workforce to just 3,500 from 8,717, before eventually winding up its Canadian operations.

The company’s board and senior management were prepared to quickly bundle parts of the business that had no role in the Libya case into a new entity, putting the “trio of possibly convicted entities” into another organization that would operate “on a reduced business level in Canada or heading into eventual wind-up,” they read.

The presentation, which was delivered by mail to The Canadian Press anonymously and without a return address, also suggests the end of seven-figure donations and sponsorships for various community causes, hundreds of millions more in lost tax revenues, and the loss of spending on research positions at universities. MORE