Despite the protestations to the contrary from the Prime Minister, his Principal Secretary Gerald Butts and the Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, whatever else the SNC-Lavalin scandal may be about, the interference by the PMO and the PCO was not about jobs.
No matter how many times they said it, it had nothing to do with 9,000 jobs at SNC-Lavalin or anywhere else. It is nothing more than Liberal spin to try to hide their interference with the corruption prosecution of friends, donors and lobbyists.
SNC-Lavalin was charged in 2015 with corruption charges and fraud charges over allegations of bribery in Libya. Later that year Justin Trudeau got elected and the lobbying began, barely before he got his fancy socks under the desk in the PMO.
The lobbying continued over a couple of years and culminated with the SNC-Lavalin CEO Neil Bruce sending a letter to Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough and copied it to seven other cabinet ministers.
The letter was written on Oct. 13, 2017. He was requesting changes to “the integrity regime” and the creation of a plea-bargain tool known as a “deferred prosecution agreement” or DPA. It is also known as a remediation agreement.
In July of 2018 the Trudeau government included a Criminal Code amendment creating the law for DPA’s buried in a 582 page omnibus budget bill. It became law in early September shortly before Trudeau, Butts et al began pressuring the Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to abandon the criminal corruption prosecution in favour of a DPA with SNC-Lavalin.
Once the scandal broke in a Globe & Mail report last month, at every opportunity the government and the Prime Minister said it was their responsibility to defend jobs. Trying an “ends justifies the means” type of argument to explain why the PMO tried to influence the Attorney General to change the mind of the Director of Public Prosecutions or else SNC-Lavalin might leave and those 9,000 jobs would be lost.
It’s specious logic at best and it turns out it may have been an outright lie to the House of Commons and the Canadian people.
In June of 2017, several months before Bruce’s letter, SNC-Lavalin announced they had sold their Montreal headquarters but had leased the 21-storey building in Downtown Montreal for 20 years. They also announced a substantial renovation on the building and plans to bring together employees scattered in other locations in the city into one main headquarters.
This announcement was made two years after they were charged with corruption and while lobbying the Trudeau government for the DPA amendment to the Criminal Code. I’m guessing they must have believed they would have gotten their criminal prosecution dropped and entered into a remediation agreement. So much so they signed a 20 year lease with GWL, the purchasers of the building.
This whole debacle reeks of the Liberal government doing favours for good friends and significant donors.
Indeed, that’s what the Sponsorship Scandal was all about and that gave us the Gomery Inquiry into Liberal corruption, which ultimately reduced the Liberals to third party status.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.