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.