SNC Lavalin, a question of illegality and immorality

di Joe Volpe del February 14, 2019

TORONTO - The SNC Lavalin scandal is like the eruption of a nest of parasites that has been feeding within our political and societal body politic for far too long.

All Canadians are touched and affected by it, revealing a culture of bribery and corruption, a national disgrace that now defines us all; even if it seems to come from a particular geographic part of the country - at least when it comes to the “big dollars”.

It is not new. Our political overseers, unfortunately, “justify” (or excuse) illegal, unethical or immoral behaviour in the name of safeguarding “jobs”.

Hogwash. No one gets elected in the name of tolerating, or indeed promoting, a culture of excessive cupidity that works to the detriment of collective values and goals we nurture as the foundation- stones of our society and our culture.

There is a reason why we do not accept the notion that “ill gotten gains” ill-gotten have a place in our society. We strive for “rule of law”, “due process”, respect for human dignity and the right of others to enjoy the same privileges we demand for ourselves.

The concept of “might is right” is inimical to those values and ingrains abuses against the “weaker” more vulnerable among us. In the past, we chose to protect ourselves with a “wall of probity”, sometimes damaged but respected even by those beyond our borders whose ethic might be more tolerant.

Perhaps a tad “boy scout…ish”, but it helped us discipline ourselves. Our laws govern our behaviour abroad as well. In the ‘90s we enacted legislation that criminalized convictions for participating or encouraging sex-tourism with minors or unconsenting adults – sex slavery.

In other words, you would be guilty here if you committed that crime, irrespective of where it took place. That principle applies to business practices as well.

Companies whose “aggressive lobbying” crosses the line into outright bribery erode democratic rights, undermine the rule of law and lead to exploitation of people.

SNC Lavalin has profited mightly from its activities in political “hell-holes” like Libya, Bangladesh, even Brazil., while engaging in practices that we would not tolerate in Canada.

It is not clear whether companies like SNC Lavalin generate the social conditions in those countries that we rightly deplore or whether they merely exploit a fetid situation for market gain. What are clear are the abominable conditions under which local populations are forced to endure.

If SNC Lavalin and others are allowed to escape their moment of scrutiny and accountability because someone here interfered with the judicial process, then we have transferred responsibility unto us.

In any normal circumstance, if an interested party were to intervene with a judge on a matter before him/her, outside the courtroom, that individual would be charged with obstruction of justice.

That is what lies at the base of the Jody Wilson-Raybould case. As former Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Canada, she apparently refused to be persuaded by any “consideration” that did not emanate from a trial where facts, proven or disputed, would survive the light of examination.

Good for her to resist.

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