Has the issue on which the next federal election will be fought come to the surface? The issue is stinky.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

February 13th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Globe and Mail gets the prize for turning what might have been a relatively peaceful run-up to this October’s federal election into an exciting game of gotcha. Everyone is waiting to hear from Canada’s former Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has remained silent to this point but is clearly stirring the pot.

Jody-Wilson-Raybould

No one really knows what happened – at some point Jody-Wilson-Raybould will have something to say and it will reverberate.

Having hired a heavy hitting legal beagle to represent her, it is only a matter of time until she starts singing publicly about what has been going on. Though that has not stopped just about everyone, least of all the politico’s, from heavily debating and already passing judgement.

If the Globe is right, this is about a decade-old bribe which SNC Lavalin paid Libyan dictator Gaddafi’s family in order to build public works there. Bribery and corruption are illegal for Canadian companies even if they do it off shore. The SNC executives responsible have all left the company, one had served time in a Swiss jail, and the company itself has been banned from obtaining UN contracts for a decade.

Quebec based Lavalin is one of the top-ranked engineering design firms in the world with operations in over 160 countries and employing thousands in Canada. Its operations cover the field from primary to service sector consulting and engineering services, including the Candu Energy nuclear reactor division, which it acquired from Atomic Energy Canada several years ago.

snc-lavalin

SNC Lavalin – has been a problem corporation for some time but always a big big hitter in Quebec.

Last fall Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA) were made law in Canada, bringing us in line with US and UK corporate wrong doing legislation. A DPA, which has been under development for a while, is essentially a plea bargain whereby the guilty party acknowledges their wrong doing, pays a hefty fine and promises to be good from now on. And most importantly for everyone, it avoids a costly and uncertain trial.

We have been led to believe from the Globe articles that Kathleen Roussel, Canada’s director of public prosecutions wanted to take SNC to trial regardless of the DPA. And further that AG Wilson-Raybould was standing by her director of prosecutions. But the prime minister’s office or somebody else was pressuring the AG to change her stand and her mind.

Trudeay and Jodi

In better days – they were made for each other.

The PM claims that neither he nor his office ever directed the AG to go the DPA route and that he had told Wilson-Rayboult these kinds of decisions were hers and hers only. But then she was moved out of the AG position at the last Cabinet shuffle and given a lesser portfolio.

All of this leaves more questions than answers:

1. If he had every confidence in his AG, why did Trudeau shuffle her?

2. If he just wanted to shuffle his Cabinet, why send her to Veterans’ Affairs, which is considered a demotion?

3. Shouldn’t Trudeau have been prepared for disappointment and even hostility from his former AG for demoting her?

4. Wilson-Rayboult would have been instrumental in drafting the DPA, why didn’t she support it rather than a trial for the SNC case?

5. If it wasn’t the PM, who in the PMO was pressuring the former AG?

6. Was SNC-Lavalin also involved in pressuring the AG?

7. Clearly this issue would have been discussed extensively in Cabinet and among the PM and AG’s advisors – if she felt she couldn’t do what was right, why didn’t she resign then as AG, rather than now?

8. As AG, a powerful Cabinet position, why didn’t she just stand her ground – or at least have the conversation with the PM he said he was open to?

9. Who leaked the story to the Globe and if it was the former AG, wasn’t she breaching Cabinet secrecy and also breaking the law?

This story is far from over but everyone needs to keep their gun powder dry (for the firing squad) until there are some answers to these questions. I will be following up on this story in due course.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Lavalin –     DPA –    Lavalin Other Crimes

Lavalin Background –     AG Talks –     MacLeans Story

Return to the Front page
Print Friendly

13 comments to Has the issue on which the next federal election will be fought come to the surface? The issue is stinky.

  • D.Duck

    Gerald Butts resigns this date: Feb 18/19

  • Ray Rivers

    Thanks everyone for your comments – Stephen I think the die is cast regarding a trial for SNC – that was decided before Jody was shuffled – in part I’m sure that was a factor in her demotion, but she had also been caught bad mouthing her own government on aboriginal affairs, reprimanded by the Clerk of the Privy Council in fact. And there is some noise out there about how well she worked with others, missed Cabinet meeting, then the whole way she dealt with her demotion. The PM may just be worried about how good a team player she’d be with the rest of the indigenous file and the pipeline question.

    She may have a lot of positive things going for her but being a team player is apparently not one of them – and dealing with conflict another shortcoming. As one of the most senior ministers of cabinet you don’t kick your leader and party the way she has without a good reason. Pressure – isn’t that the name of the game – what politicians are all facing all the time.

    • Stephen White

      All good points Ray, but here’s the rub: Trudeau knew what he was getting when he appointed her to Cabinet. She had a high profile, and was a fairly known commodity, so her reputation preceded her. If the PM had concerns about her being a “team player”, or her ability to handle conflict, why would he appoint her to such a prominent position that would be handling so many contentious files with different stakeholders? The answer I suspect, lies in the Liberal Party’s commitment to elite accommodation in order to silence potential critics. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t work too well.

  • Don Fletcher

    I have always believed that competence & character are the most critical characteristics for a job applicant or employee. Will Chrystia Freeland be running for PM in 2020?

  • Stephen White

    You have to admire the Liberal Party’s devotion and fealty to their Quebec-based corporate friends. Whether it is SNC Lavalin, Desjardins, Bombardier, De Havilland or Power Corporation, there is nothing they won’t do to support or defend their corporate donors.

    SNC Lavalin has a long history of dubious business practices, and that’s putting it charitably. The thought that a Liberal Justice Minister might actually want to prosecute them for corporate malfeasance must have sent shock waves through the ranks of Liberal Party fundraisers and bagmen. That probably explains Wilson-Raybould’s shuffle to a less visible portfolio. The Prime Minister recognized her value as an Aboriginal woman and indigenous representative, but needed to find an escape route to keep his corporate friends happy. Unfortunately, the PM found out that his star candidate actually had more than just the right pedigree, but also had a backbone and ethics, and wasn’t planning to stick around to defend her former mentor.

    Drip, drip, drip…..the sound of Trudeau’s credibility ebbing away. Suddenly, “sunny days” don’t look quite so bright anymore. Kind of like the PM’s re-election prospects.

  • Joe Gaetan

    Based on the Prime Ministers self inflicted trajectory he should beware of the ides of March

  • Susan L.

    Maybe Jody Wilson-Raybould didn’t resign because of the SNC-Lavlin case.

    She would have been instrumental in drafting the DPA (deferred prosecution agreement) in the first place and it’s quite possible that piece of legislation was written with SNC-Lavalin in mind. Therefore, why wouldn’t she support it in the SNC-Lavalin case?

    In any case, the Government is between a rock and a hard place.
    a) They wrote the DPA specifically for SNC-Lavalin or,
    b) the AG was demoted because she wouldn’t support Trudeau’s interference re SNC-Lavalin.

    Maybe she was demoted over the handling of the Huawei case.

  • Susan L.

    Could Andrew Scheer have leaked the story to the Globe?

    According to The Star, “Andrew Scheer met with the head of SNC-Lavalin in May 2018 to discuss criminal charges facing the Quebec construction giant.

    Scheer’s office confirmed the Conservative leader discussed the “deferred prosecution agreement” sought by SNC-Lavalin to avoid criminal fraud and corruption charges. The meeting with SNC-Lavalin CEO Neil Bruce took place last May 29, months after the Liberal government introduced so-called “DPAs” in its omnibus budget bill.”

    Was it Andrew Scheer who leaked the info he received from SNC-Lavalin?

    Did Andrew Scheer have the permission and consent of the AG when he met with SNC-Lavalin CEO to discuss “a deferred prosecution agreement?” If not why not?

  • D.Duck

    Let’s look at these individually:

    1. If he had every confidence in his AG, why did Trudeau shuffle her?
    – He is lying and she pissed his royal highness off so he demoted her. Quite the Feminist.

    2. If he just wanted to shuffle his Cabinet, why send her to Veterans’ Affairs, which is considered a demotion?
    – He did this too make a point to his cabinet. Telling the king he is not wearing clothes will get you demoted but hopefully not enough to stab the king (someone was scorned).

    3. Shouldn’t Trudeau have been prepared for disappointment and even hostility from his former AG for demoting her?
    – Yes, but “Stupid is as Stupid does” and “You can’t fix Stupid” all come to mind.

    4. Wilson-Rayboult would have been instrumental in drafting the DPA, why didn’t she support it rather than a trial for the SNC case?
    – Drafting the DPA does not mean it should be used in every circumstances. Sometimes you need a big stick as handshakes and back slapping don’t always work for every criminal.

    5. If it wasn’t the PM, who in the PMO was pressuring the former AG?
    – Dah, I’m sure he would never have Butt in but he is a Butt head and hence should Butt out. How Butt ugly clear was that? He was the Butt of the joke when it came to provincial liberal scandals and tried to ride the Butt train to the federal gov’t on the tax-payers dime.
    – It happened to the Tory’s: Nigel Wright was Butt wrong.

    6. Was SNC-Lavalin also involved in pressuring the AG?
    – follow the SNC lobbyist money trail. If the AG was a Tory, I am sure SNC would have a sponsorship program to buy golfballs for the Shawinigan golf course.

    7. Clearly this issue would have been discussed extensively in Cabinet and among the PM and AG’s advisors – if she felt she couldn’t do what was right, why didn’t she resign then as AG, rather than now?
    – Unsure if it was discussed and why DO YOU think it was the correct thing to do??? “His highness doth protest too much, methinks” when he states he is a feminist and perhaps his immature and labile emotions were hurt when a powerful, independent and politically honest neophyte spoke her educated mind. Maybe the free voting Liberal cabinet is just a facade?

    8. As AG, a powerful Cabinet position, why didn’t she just stand her ground – or at least have the conversation with the PM he said he was open to?
    – I would think that she did this and for doing it, she got brushed aside and demoted.

    9. Who leaked the story to the Globe and if it was the former AG, wasn’t she breaching Cabinet secrecy and also breaking the law?
    – who cares?? If his highness had been transparent that his home grown SNC was getting a DPA exemption then none of this would have mattered. He was not transparent and it thus stinks of home town favouritism. Furthermore, the highness’s platitude of “respecting judicial independence and the rule of law” is somewhat tarnished when finally kneeling before his demigods. Especially when the Chinese see how politics and the rule of law work in Canada.

  • William Statten

    Thanks ray, a well written piece. Seemingly unbiased, which is a refreshing change.

  • Joan Gallagher-Bell

    Thank you for the truth. Look forward to further answers.

Leave a Reply