The President and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) Leah Lawrence has resigned after facing scrutiny for doling out millions of taxpayer dollars to companies connected to members of the federal crown corporation’s board of directors.
Lawrence’s resignation comes after multiple news reports and an investigation by the House of Commons ethics committee uncovered significant corporate mismanagement during Lawrence’s time as SDTC’s CEO.
In Lawrence’s letter of resignation, she lashed out against what she perceives to be a pernicious campaign against her leadership that has compromised her ability to lead SDTC.
“Given recent media reports, House of Commons testimony, and the surrounding controversy, it is clear there has been a sustained and malicious campaign to undermine my leadership,” said Lawrence.
“This compromises my future ability to lead the organization and puts me in an untenable situation. And I want to see this organization succeed.”
Lawrence’s resignation comes after SDTC’s chair of the board of directors Annette Verschuren was grilled at the House of Commons Ethics committee.
MP Michael Cooper pressed Verschuren for sending out $217,000 in Covid-19 relief payments to NRStor, a company that Verschuren is the CEO of.
In response to whistleblowers from SDTC reaching out to the government and complaining about corporate mismanagement, the federal department Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) commissioned a report from Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT) to investigate the matter.
The RCGT report uncovered a number of problems with SDTC’s governance, including the funnelling of money to companies in which board of directors members had personal or financial interests, several violations of SDTC’s contribution agreement with ISED, and failures of SDTC’s human resources policy.
True North spoke with an SDTC whistleblower and conducted an independent investigation which found that SDTC had given tens of millions of dollars to companies in which its former and current board members are financially vested. Further, SDTC fired employees who presented their concerns about the corporate mismanagement they witnessed.
The aforementioned RCGT report also found that Lawrence had failed to declare a conflict of interest with an SDTC consultant and that Lawrence had created a backdated conflict of interest declaration between herself and the consultant under the advice of her external legal counsel.