Month: February 2019

Rumours of Death: The Panic Over SNC-Lavalin

Did the Prime Minister’s Office panic over SNC-Lavalin’s story of impeding doom? Or did they have real numbers showing the future effects of a criminal prosecution?

In the last few weeks the Canadian media have feasted daily on the political controversy over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s treatment of the former Attorney, General Jody Wilson-Raybould. This controversy arose over SNC-Lavalin’s repeated meetings with the Prime Minister’s Office, intended to persuade the PM to persuade the AG to intervene in a criminal prosecution of that company.

The SNC-Lavalin story that the PM, the PMO and the Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick told was that unless the company was protected from criminal prosecution there would be catastrophic consequences, not just for the now-reformed company but also, collateral damage for other, innocent parties: the company’s employees, shareholders and pensioners. I have seen no public numbers to quantify the estimated extent of these damages, merely the assumption that they would be catastrophic and unjust. The PM seemed to have assumed that most, if not all of SNC-Lavalin’s 9,000 Canadian employees are likely to become unemployed. He has responded to his critics by saying that there is nothing wrong with his trying to protect these 9,000 Canadian jobs.  But what if those jobs aren’t at risk, and don’t need his protection?  Did the PM just risk his career and his government over an exaggeration?

Continue reading “Rumours of Death: The Panic Over SNC-Lavalin”

The Prime Minister and the Attorney General.

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble…”  Groucho Marx

Introduction

On February 7, the Globe and Mail reported:

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office attempted to press Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was justice minister to intervene in the corruption and fraud prosecution of Montreal engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., sources say, but she refused to ask federal prosecutors to make a deal with the company that could prevent a costly trial. ….

Sources say Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who was justice minister and attorney-general until she was shuffled to Veterans Affairs early this year, came under heavy pressure to persuade the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to change its mind.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould was unwilling to instruct the director of the public prosecution service, Kathleen Roussel, to negotiate a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin, according to sources who were granted anonymity to speak directly about what went on behind-the-scenes in the matter.”  [emphasis added]

On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned from the Cabinet. And on February 13, the Globe and Mail reported:

“Mr. Trudeau repeated his assertion from Tuesday on Ms. Wilson-Raybould, saying that if she had a problem with how the government handled the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, she had a duty to speak up about it earlier.” [emphasis added]

 

The conversations mentioned in these news stories have become a serious problem for everyone: Mr. Trudeau, Ms. Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin. What may happen next?

Continue reading “The Prime Minister and the Attorney General.”

How To Amend C-69: Assess the Project, Not the Planet

“No one should see how laws or sausages are made.”  Otto von Bismarck

Note to my readers:  This post is very long for a blog.  I did not want to make it even longer,  or to present additional posts on this subject.   That is why I have posted here an abbreviated version of my ideas for C-69 amendment, providing only the recommendations that are easier to understand.  Others, which may be more complex, have been omitted for the sake of brevity. However, if you find the table below too detailed, skip past it and just read the text. I’m happy to offer more detailed insight into my recommendations if you would like to contact me directly.

Introduction

C-69 has had no shortage of critics, myself included.  However, the government’s desire to modernize what had been criticized as antiquated and inadequate environmental assessment legislation is commendable. The government could have left things as they were, thereby avoiding criticism.

Several critics of C-69 have argued that the law is so seriously flawed that it should be repealed and the government should start again from scratch. I disagree. It has taken a long time, and thousands of person hours to create C-69. This law has been through Parliament and is currently before the Senate. The government should not throw all that work away now.   Nor is it so bad as to be unfixable.  It is not the function of the Senate – an unelected body – to repeal or refuse to pass laws legally enacted by the elected representatives in Parliament.

Unfortunately, what Parliament wanted the law to accomplish — greater transparency, greater inclusiveness, greater fairness and a shorter time for completion — is unlikely to be accomplished by this law because of the way it is written.  I would strongly recommend that it be amended, as outlined below. Continue reading “How To Amend C-69: Assess the Project, Not the Planet”