Pulling the rug out from under ethics and honesty

di Joe Volpe del February 19, 2019

TORONTO - SNC Lavalin may  yet prove the downfall of Justin  Trudeau, unless it takes down his  advisors, Gerald Butts and Katy  Telford first.

Former B.C. Premier and Federal Cabinet Minister (a former colleague and “straight shooter”) has  already called publicly for cleaning house in the Prime Minister’s  Office (PMO).

Like many national  political pundits, he is scratching  his head at the minute by minute  fumbling by the Prime Minister  on the matter of the resignation  by Jody Wilson-Raybould and the  “deferred prosecution” of SNC  Lavalin (SNCL).

Breaking news: as we go to  print, Gerald Butts has prof- fered his resignation. A week  too late, but a start. More  coverage below and tomorrow.

The SNCL issue is not going  away. When it surfaced, it should  have provided the PMO with an  opportunity for a quick and decisive messaging on a matter of  “principle” – the Prime Minister  is all about doing the right thing,  so to speak.

A perfect “selfie mo- ment”. Instead, the PMO seems to  have turned that “principle” into  a minefield, with Trudeau triggering every landmine with every  speaking opportunity.

We should  be talking about the corruption  of ethical behaviour among our  business elites, not the equivocation of our political leaders on  matters of ethics and law.

Consider that Friday’s Conservative Talk Show hosts were  having a field day with his latest  [failed] e‰ort to make amends  with Jody Wilson-Raybould.

If  former Treasury Board President  Scott Brison had not resigned,  Jody would still be in Cabinet as  Attorney General, he said.  Good gosh! Is that the best that Butts-Telford could divine?  Wilson-Raybould was demoted  because Brison decided to call it  quits? Even my 16-year old grand- son laughed at the lameness of  that excuse.

But the messaging,  or fumbling thereof, is only a side  show. The public knows a stink  when it smells one. Apparently  the PMO does not. SNCL, whose last reported an- nual revenues were $9,577 Billion,  is an international corporation  which just happens to be head- quartered in Canada.

It employs  52,440 people, according to its  own website, only 8,762 of them  throughout Canada, roughly 3,400  (6.5% of the total) of them in Quebec.

In other words, it can take care  of itself. It seems to have done so  using whatever means were avail- able, wherever “tainted or spine- less” political operatives were  prepared to give them an advan- tage over their competitors.

No one is slandering or defaming SNCL. Its “mis-adventures”  are a matter of chronicled fact and  public record that the company it- self is not denying! Bribery, graft, “shake-downs”  and corruption are illegal in Caanada.

Any Canadian company  participating in projects abroad  that involves those “techniques”  to secure or maintain contracts  can expect treatment as if it had  done so in Canada. If charged and  convicted, a company will also be  prohibited from bidding on Canadian government contracts for 10  years In 2013, the World Bank de- barred SNCL from any World  Bank-funded projects for 10 years,  because of its bribery and corruption of Bangladeshi officials to secure infrastructure projects.

Then  the World Bank handed the file  to Canada’s RCMP for criminal  prosecution.  The World Bank found it guilty  of similar activities in Cambodia.

But SNCL’s most celebrated notoriety is associated with a $130  million bribe/compensation package to the son of deposed and exe- cuted Libya ’s Moammar Gheda™. In that instance, Prime Minis- ter Harper brought Canada into  the war against Libya at a cost to  the Canadian Treasury of over  $110 million, allegedly after SNCL,  among others, was consulted.

Gwyn Morgan, its Chairman at  the time, had also been Harper’s  chief fundraiser. No one is pointing fingers or  engaging in “partisanship” issues.

The reference merely illustrates  that the tentacles of SNCL reach  into all Parties and tarnishes  the reputation of all politicians  who don’t speak out.

In fact, the  Government of Quebec, through  its economic development arm  (Caisse de Depot) already holds a  20% share of SNCL stock.

Those Parties and governments  would be foolish in the extreme to  come to its defense, even as they  couch that defense with “jobs  at risk”.

The jobs in Canada will  not disappear. In the event SNCL  were to be bought by another in- terest, the employees would still  be in demand.

Today, the irony is that Tru- deau’s government, which inher- ited the mess (and made it worse)  can no longer a‰ord to “lean towards” a deferred prosecution  solution for SNCL, unless it has  a bad case of suicidal tendencies. Walk away, Justin, let the Courts  deal with SNCL.

You have already  lost Wilson-Raybould and all that  she has come to represent. Walk  away or lose more.

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