Wednesday Night #1927 with The Hon. David Kilgour

Written by  //  February 20, 2019  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

In this week’s alphabet, G is for Governance with depressing illustrations from Canada – yes, Canada! – the U.S., and the U.K.. Of course. there are many other countries where the issue dominates discourse on almost a daily basis, but these three are not regular members of the Usual Suspects club.

We are fortunate to have The Honourable David Kilgour with us to discuss the current issues surrounding the SNC-Lavalin affair, which has exploded over the past days. While most of us are familiar with David’s thoughtful essays as part of the Two Davids dialogue, many are not aware that he brings to this topic the perspective of a former prosecutor, who served as Crown counsel before going to Parliament with the City of Vancouver (1967-1968); Dept. of Justice, Ottawa (1968-1969); Government of Manitoba (1971-1972); Government of Alberta (1972-1979).
Kilgour: If Canada is a rule-of-law nation, it should welcome independent probe of SNC-Lavalin crisis
Unlike in China, political or economic convenience for anyone, including a prime minister or political party, can never be a factor in deciding to prosecute in a rule of law democracy like Canada.

In anticipation, David suggested the following links.
SNC-Lavalin’s demise would not be the calamity its defenders claim
The frightened Liberal rabbits shut down investigation into SNC-Lavalin affair
Why China might be right to wonder if Canadian justice can be bought
SNC-Lavalin Affair: Canada Goes Back to Its Roots
SNC-Lavalin Controversy and the Rule of Law
We  add:
From the archives: The inside story of SNC-Lavalin’s Gadhafi disaster
In 2012, Canadian and Swiss authorities zeroed in on a jet-setting SNC-Lavalin executive accused of bribes in Libya. The Globe and Mail’s Greg McArthur and Graeme Smith untangled his complicated story; and
Are these the ‘answers’ of a Prime Minister who’s done nothing wrong?
Andrew MacDougall: Sloppy misdirection, anonymous hit jobs. The response to the Lavalin affair shows a PMO that’s scrambling and caught.

Tony Deutsch has posed these questions:
1.If Canada has programmes to aid countries known to be corrupt by financing various projects  to be executed by Canadian firms, why do have laws on our books that prohibit paying the bribes required  to execute these projects?
2.What is the statutory relationship between the Minister of Justice and the Director of Prosecutions in Ottawa? (If we had lots of time, we could look at the U.S. parallels.)
3. Justin vs. Jody—narrative and evaluation in the light of 2.
To which we added: how does the Canadian legislation  compare to the texts/provisions of the equivalent UK and US legislation?
We also mentioned that, as all politics is/are local, many in Quebec are more outraged by the stories of bribery and corruption involving the construction of the MUHC and the refurbishing of the Jacques Cartier bridge

And this was all before Monday’s announcement that Justin Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts resigns amid SNC-Lavalin affair

National emergency in the U.S.
South of the border,  after lawmakers granted him only $1.375 billion for new border barriers, – legislation he signed last week to avoid another government shutdown – on Friday, Donald Trump announced he would declare a national emergency and reallocate some $8 billion to build the wall through executive fiat. As Elizabeth Goitein points out in The Alarming Scope of the President’s Emergency Powers, from seizing control of the internet to declaring martial law, President Trump may legally do all kinds of extraordinary things. “Unknown to most Americans, a parallel legal regime allows the president to sidestep many of the constraints that normally apply. The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—more than 100 special provisions become available to him. While many of these tee up reasonable responses to genuine emergencies, some appear dangerously suited to a leader bent on amassing or retaining power. For instance, the president can, with the flick of his pen, activate laws allowing him to shut down many kinds of electronic communications inside the United States or freeze Americans’ bank accounts. Other powers are available even without a declaration of emergency, including laws that allow the president to deploy troops inside the country to subdue domestic unrest.” Reaction has been swift: Trump’s Emergency Sparks Protests, Potential Congressional Moves, and on Monday, 16 States Sue to Stop Trump’s Use of Emergency Powers to Build Border Wall. Two cases had already been filed after Mr. Trump’s announcement on Feb. 15 — one by the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen, representing several Texas landowners and a Texas environmental group, and the other a case jointly brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. At least two other lawsuits are expected to be filed later this week. The American Civil Liberties Union has announced its intention to file a case, but has not yet publicly identified its client. The other case will be brought by Protect Democracy, another watchdog group, and the Niskanen Center, a center-right policy institute, on behalf of El Paso County and the Border Network for Human Rights.
Adding to the debate, The Guardian points out that Trump’s emergency declaration is unconstitutional – ask his lawyers  See more  on U.S. Government & governance 2019

And then, there is Brexit. The latest development is Seven lawmakers quit UK Labour Party citing Brexit ‘betrayal’, anti-Semitism  United by a desire for a second referendum on Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, they acknowledged that their resignations would not change the arithmetic in parliament. … But their move underlines the increasing frustration within Labour over Corbyn’s reluctance to change his Brexit strategy – the leftist leader and long-time critic of the EU has stuck to his preference for a new election or his plan to leave the bloc. However, what we find more intriguing is the difference of opinion on the  impact of Brexit on Ireland.  The Atlantic worries ” The sectarian violence around the decades when a real, tangible border existed is a recent memory for many, who now worry what horrors a deal-less Brexit might bring back.” while the New York Times has an optimistic view that “the increasing possibility that Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 without an agreement has rallied both moderates and extremists in the united-Ireland camp behind renewed talk of a single Irish state. (How a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit Could Open a Path to Irish Unity).
Letter from the U.K. “Last week, the civil service advertised for staff at a planned “EU Exit Emergencies Centre,” to oversee the widespread disruption to Britain’s ports, food supplies, and general way of life that is expected in the event of no deal. Withdrawing from forty-six years of integration with European regulations and replacing them with nothing at all would complicate everything from aviation rules to fruit inspections to cross-border arrest warrants. The jobs at the E.U.X.E. center, which will operate around the clock for at least six months, were described in the ad as part of an “incredibly high-profile and complex Business Change/Transformation Programme.” Applicants should be “unflappable” and able to “see the emergency trends with little or no information and act appropriately at pace.” The keenest Brexiteers like to imagine a no deal as a kind of cathartic, revolutionary moment, from which a new, leaner Britain will emerge. The jobs at the E.U.X.E. are advertised as lasting for up to two years.”

Those are the Big Three of Governance this week, but there are other developments that should concern us:
Brazil: it hasn’t taken long. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday fired Secretary-General Gustavo Bebianno amid a week-long scandal over alledged laundry of campaign funds.
The Bebianno controversy is the latest scandal tarnishing the anti-corruption credentials of Bolsonaro, who rode into office pledging zero tolerance for graft after years of political bribery investigations rocking Brasilia.
The president’s son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, is also facing accusations from prosecutors of money laundering and tough questions about irregular payments made to his driver in recent years when he was a member of the Rio de Janeiro state assembly. Flavio Bolsonaro says he has done nothing wrong.

Haiti where businesses and government offices slowly reopened on Monday after more than a week of deadly demonstrations over prices that have doubled for food, gas and other basic goods in recent weeks amid allegations of government corruption.Hundreds of thousands of Haitians had protested last week to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise.  Moise has refused to step down, though his prime minister, Jean-Henry Ceant, said over the weekend that he has agreed to reduce certain government budgets by 30 percent, limit the travel of government officials and remove all non-essential privileges they enjoy, including phone cards. Ceant also vowed to investigate alleged misspending tied to a Venezuelan programme that provided Haiti with subsidised oil and said he has requested that a court audit all state-owned enterprises.  Understandably, many Haitians remained wary of those promises.

Venezuela We have not heard much about the Lima Group since their meeting in Ottawa, but Trump has taken time away from wall-building to issue an ultimatum to Venezuela’s military: Either join with the US-led effort to depose Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, or suffer immense consequences. Trump’s threats are worrisome – what consequences might he have in mind?

A new development in the on-going debate: Britain does not support total Huawei network ban: sources
British security officials do not support a full ban of Huawei from national telecoms networks despite U.S. allegations the Chinese firm and its products could be used by Beijing for spying, people with knowledge of the matter said

Good viewing
Our WN expert recommends “A Hologram for the King” (Netflix) if you want some idea of what it is like to conclude a contract in Saudi Arabia.

Good reads:
Highly recommended by Guillaume Lavoie:
The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice
The Taste of Conquest offers up a riveting, globe-trotting tale of unquenchable desire, fanatical religion, raw greed, fickle fashion, and mouthwatering cuisine–in short, the very stuff of which our world is made. In this engaging, enlightening, and anecdote-filled history, Michael Krondl, a noted chef turned writer and food historian, tells the story of three legendary cities–Venice, Lisbon, and Amsterdam–and how their single-minded pursuit of spice helped to make (and remake) the Western diet and set in motion the first great wave of globalization.

Complicating the Narratives
What if journalists covered controversial issues differently — based on how humans actually behave when they are polarized and suspicious?
By Amanda Ripley
“Researchers have a name for the kind of divide America is currently experiencing. They call this an “intractable conflict,” as social psychologist Peter T. Coleman describes in his book The Five Percent, and it’s very similar to the kind of wicked feuds that emerge in about one out of every 20 conflicts worldwide. In this dynamic, people’s encounters with the other tribe (political, religious, ethnic, racial or otherwise) become more and more charged. And the brain behaves differently in charged interactions. It’s impossible to feel curious, for example, while also feeling threatened. In this hypervigilant state, we feel an involuntary need to defend our side and attack the other. That anxiety renders us immune to new information. In other words: no amount of investigative reporting or leaked documents will change our mind, no matter what.”

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