SNC-Lavalin 2019

Written by  //  December 22, 2019  //  Canada, Government & Governance  //  1 Comment

‘All I was ever doing was my job,’ Jody Wilson-Raybould says as SNC-Lavalin saga ends
(Globe & Mail) When SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. pleaded guilty last week to one charge of fraud related to its work for the Gadhafi regime in Libya a decade ago, some commentators declared it a vindication or a victory for Jody Wilson-Raybould. To the former attorney-general, however, it is neither.
“I appreciate that justice was served. I’m pleased the public engaged in conversations about what it means to live in a democracy and how important it is to continue to protect democratic institutions. But this isn’t about winning or losing,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould said Friday in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
The independent Vancouver MP resigned from the Liberal cabinet last February, after The Globe reported that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his staff inappropriately pressed her to stop the criminal prosecution of the Montreal-based engineering giant.
To avoid a trial, SNC had sought a settlement called a deferred prosecution agreement. In August, the federal Ethics Commissioner, Mario Dion, found Mr. Trudeau had violated the Conflict of Interest Act in trying to persuade Ms. Wilson-Raybould to overrule the decision by the director of Public Prosecutions, Kathleen Roussel, not to grant the company the agreement it wanted.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould says she was not expecting the company’s guilty plea, and on a personal level, it has given her some degree of “closure” over the affair.

18 December
SNC-Lavalin pleads guilty to fraud for past work in Libya, will pay $280M fine
Company will pay a $280M penalty over 5 years and be placed on probation
(CBC) Five other fraud and corruption charges filed against SNC-Lavalin, SNC-Lavalin Construction and SNC-Lavalin International were dropped.
Federal prosecutor Richard Roy cited as mitigating factors the guilty plea and measures the company has taken to reform its practices to minimize the risk of recidivism.
The fine, he said, reflects the severity of the crime that was committed.
After year of political turmoil, SNC-Lavalin gets most of what it wanted in plea deal
‘The rest of the company will be able to continue to have access to public contracts,’ says François Legault
(CBC) After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s failed efforts to see SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution led to him losing two key ministers, his edge in the polls and (almost) his party’s hold on government, the Quebec engineering firm at the centre of the controversy walked away today with a plea deal that looks a lot like what it asked the government for in the first place.
A judge on Thursday accepted the plea deal that a division of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. struck with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Under the agreement, the company pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud over $5,000 in relation to the company’s activities in Libya.
All other charges have been dropped.
“We are happy. The company is happy,” said SNC-Lavalin lawyer François Fontaine. “The fact that the charges are no longer pending over the head of the company is good. The uncertainty around that kind of proceeding is bad for business, is bad for the company.
“So we’re very happy that it’s now over. We are free to bid as normal. This guilty plea does not prevent construction, or any other entity of the group, to bid on public contracts.”

Charges against SNC-Lavalin explained —
and how the PMO allegedly got involved

See also Wednesday Night #1927 w/ David Kilgour
A closer look at SNC-Lavalin’s sometimes murky past

Yves Boisvert: A deferred prosecution agreement is not what you think it is
A DPA is not a way to get a crooked company off the hook: It is a way to make sure it is rehabilitated, watched, and financially punished for what it did. All of that must be judicially approved and monitored. Should one of the long list of conditions be not respected, then criminal prosecution would continue, since it is only deferred as long as the terms are complied with. Individuals involved in any scheme, too, are personally prosecuted in a criminal court. In other words, DPAs aren’t soft on corruption – they’re ways to ensure a company has cleaned up and pays the public for its misdeeds.
The affair and the politics of prosecution
By Victoria Colvin,  formerly a prosecutor with the Office of the Attorney-General of British Columbia, Criminal Justice Branch. She worked with Jody Wilson-Raybould in the Vancouver Crown Counsel Office from 2001-2002.
(The Conversation) My research investigates how accountability, transparency and control of prosecutorial discretion can be structured, an interest inspired by my work as a former prosecutor in British Columbia. In relation to political control over individual decisions, my findings suggest that the risks of partisan political influence on the process are significant.
See L’Affaire SNC-Lavalin: The Public Law Principles for text of The Shawcross Doctrine

14 August – 16 August
Andrew Coyne: The deception in the SNC affair is the most troubling aspect of all
This is not some junior clerk they were attempting to hoodwink. This was the chief law officer of Canada
It is the element of deception that raises the conduct described in the ethics commissioner’s report from the merely unlawful to the potentially criminal.
Until now what we had thought we were dealing with was only a sustained and mounting campaign, by the prime minister and by those acting at his direction, to pressure the former attorney general of Canada to set aside the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a company with a long history of corruption and even longer history of contributing to the Liberal party, for reasons that explicitly included considerations of partisan advantage.
Whereas the conduct unearthed by the ethics commissioner may have fallen below even that line. What we have learned is that senior government officials were not just pressuring the former attorney general to interfere in a criminal proceeding, by the unprecedented means of overturning a decision of the independent director of public prosecutions: they were deceiving her.
It was known before how ferociously the company had lobbied various ministers and public officials, even after it had been charged, to insert a provision in the Criminal Code allowing it to escape prosecution: the famous remediation agreements. It was not known until now that it had been at the company’s suggestion that this was inserted in the 2018 budget implementation bill, the better to ensure that it could not be voted upon separately or even examined by the competent parliamentary committee.
Likewise, it was known that, after the DPP had ruled the company was ineligible, under the terms of the same legislation, for such an agreement, the company had swarmed the government to have her decision overturned. It was not known how fully, indeed eagerly, representatives of the prime minister, the finance minister, and the clerk of the privy council had participated in this campaign — in support, that is, of a private company, charged with serious crimes under the law, against the offices of government responsible for applying the law.
Jody Wilson-Raybould says she didn’t know how aggressively SNC-Lavalin lobbied for remediation agreements
(CBC) Trudeau told Dion, before a meeting with SNC-Lavalin executives in 2016, he wasn’t familiar with a deferred prosecution regime, a legal avenue that is used in other jurisdictions to deal with corporate wrongdoing.
One of his senior staffers, Mathieu Bouchard, went to work studying how Canada could introduce a remediation agreement regime of its own. The government held a series of public consultations throughout 2017. In January 2018, Finance Minister Bill Morneau met with SNC-Lavalin CEO Neil Bruce on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the executive pushed the case for a remediation agreement. He asked Morneau that there be a “timely implementation of a regime via the federal budget.”
The company then provided Morneau and a staffer, Justin To, with a document that outlined how a remediation agreement regime would “increase the likelihood of a settlement of the company’s pending criminal charges, of the company maintaining its head office in Canada for the foreseeable future and of an increase in its workforce.”
Three weeks later, after the Davos meeting, the government introduced amendments to the Criminal Code to give federal prosecutors the option of pursuing remediation agreements with companies accused of criminality.
Will Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin ethics breach hit Liberals hard in election? | At Issue
(CBC) In the wake of a report on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ethics violation in the SNC-Lavalin case, the At Issue panel reconvenes to discuss how much the latest chapter in this controversy will hurt the Liberals in the upcoming federal election.
‘I take responsibility,’ Trudeau says in wake of damning report on SNC-Lavalin ethics violation
(CBC) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he accepts full responsibility after Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion found he violated the Conflict of Interest Act by trying to influence then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and get her to overrule a decision to not grant a deferred prosecution agreement to Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
Trudeau says he won’t apologize for protecting jobs
Trudeau, meanwhile, defended his conduct, saying he was trying to avoid negative consequences of a criminal prosecution of a major employer.
“My job as prime minister is to stand up for Canadians and defend their interests,” he said. “Yes, it is essential that we do that in a way that defends our institutions and upholds prosecutorial independence, but we need to talk about the impacts on Canadians right across the country of decisions being made.
“I can’t apologize for standing up for Canadian jobs.”
Ethics watchdog says he was denied access to evidence in SNC-Lavalin affair
(National Post) In a scathing rebuke near the beginning of his 63-page report, released Wednesday morning, ethics commissioner Mario Dion detailed how he fought to access confidential information related to the affair, but was denied by the Privy Council Office — one of the offices involved in the scandal he was investigating.
Trudeau breached conflict of interest law in SNC-Lavalin affair, ethics commissioner rules
Dion’s report concluded that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by using his authority over former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to urge her to help Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. It supports allegations made by Wilson-Raybould that the prime minister and other senior officials improperly pressured her over a period of several months in 2018.
Dion wrote that he was able to gather enough information to draw conclusions on the matter. “Because of my inability to access all Cabinet confidences related to the matter I must, however, report that I was unable to fully discharge the investigatory duties conferred upon me by the Act,” he wrote.

6-7 August
More surprises possible in SNC-Lavalin’s fixed-bid business, analysts say
Both the company and some analysts who cover it say changes could take time to bear fruit, which may not be what investors want to hear
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is exiting the business of “lump-sum turnkey” construction contracts, but analysts say the embattled engineering firm’s existing backlog could still present some problems.
Montreal-based SNC announced in July that it would move away from the fixed-price projects, which its interim CEO said were “the root cause of the company’s performance issues,” and instead “focus on the high-performing and growth areas of the business,” such as design and engineering services.

SNC needs wholesale cultural changes to start delivering results: Caisse CEO
But the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec still has faith in SNC’s ability to put its house in order
By Frédéric Tomesco
(Gazette)  Canada’s largest engineering and construction company “has got to make very meaningful progress in improving its execution capabilities,” Michael Sabia, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec chief executive officer, said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “That is the key to the future of SNC-Lavalin.”
To turn itself around, SNC needs “a major step-up in discipline, in systems, in the capacity to overview project by project and to know where each one of those projects stands down to decimal points,” Sabia said. “Building an execution culture is a significant undertaking. I think the company now is increasingly seized of the importance of doing that, and we are supportive of those efforts. The company has to get on with it.”
Shares of SNC have plunged by about two-thirds in the past year as the Montreal-based builder missed profit targets and incurred cost overruns while becoming embroiled in a political scandal at home over an attempt to settle past corruption charges. After replacing its CEO in June, SNC said it would stop bidding on fixed-price construction projects and look at possibly selling its oil-and-gas business. Last week, it cut its dividend to conserve cash.
SNC’s struggles have taken their toll on the Caisse. Sabia disclosed Monday that the value of the pension fund manager’s minority stake in SNC shrank by about $700 million in the first half of the year. As of Dec. 31, the Caisse had valued its equity stake in SNC-Lavalin at about $1.6 billion.
The Caisse owns about 20 per cent of SNC. Last month, the Quebec pension manager issued a terse press release to voice concern about the deterioration of SNC’s financial performance.

2 August
SNC-Lavalin – what the hell are you up to…?
(IJ Global) SNC-Lavalin’s in a right old mess, no two ways about it. Being debarred by World Bank rules it out for most emerging market work, while a question mark hangs over its future ability to bid on federal projects in its home market.
To add insult to injury, political wrangling between Canada and Saudi Arabia spells trouble for Canadian companies in the kingdom… which comes as a massive blow to SNC which has two major clients in the nation and around 9,000 staff on the ground.
Furthermore, SNC announced last week that it was exiting lump-sum turnkey contracting, reorganising its resources (O&G and mining and metallurgy) and infra sections into a separate business line. That’s a massive shift and – for a company of this nature – it seems to have passed with relatively little comment… given what they do for a living!
It has withdrawn its bid for the Valley Line West LRT in Edmonton, Alberta, and is doing likewise on two other major infrastructure projects in British Columbia:
There’s nasty little industry secret in Canada that’s bubbling under the surface … that will impact the PPP / P3 community in the coming years. Lifecycle money on PPP projects is being spent now to cover operating shortfalls, creating a time bomb for projects … The timeline for these issues … is uncertain, but it’s a lot closer to being imminent (18-36 months).
This is hugely concerning and speaks of either a lack of understanding among the operators… or, more likely, a desperate desire to please the equity holders by doing the wrong thing.
Bringing it back to SNC, we hear that it has centralised the surveillance of all its fixed-budget projects which, our sources tell us, indicates that management has serious concerns about their futures.
Talking of management, again according to sources, there is huge disagreement internally over the new chief executive – Ian Edwards – who took over as interim president and CEO on 11 June.

11 June
SNC-Lavalin’s Neil Bruce exiting as CEO
Mr. Bruce’s tenure was marked by the purchase of U.K. engineering firm Atkins in 2017, a transformative acquisition that allowed SNC to widen its geographic footprint and increase consulting revenue. He also boosted the company’s backlog of work to more than $15-billion and brought in key senior-level executive talent, saying he wanted SNC to become the world’s biggest engineering and construction firm.
But the Scotsman also failed to bury the company’s legal trouble. His effort to win a deal with federal prosecutors to settle bribery and fraud charges against the company hit a wall and ballooned into a political crisis for the Trudeau government amid allegations that officials in the Prime Minister’s Office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson Raybould to order a deal for the company.
Eric Reguly: Neil Bruce’s time was up at SNC-Lavalin and the new boss needs a new strategy
His overhaul of the company to make it less Canadian was the right strategy. True, there were problems, such as the disaster in Chile, where the state-owned mining company terminated SNC’s US$260-million contract to build two sulphuric acid plants. But they can be overcome. Mr. Bruce was bitter and angry in his final months at SNC and no one – not him, not his investors, not the politicians wrapped up in SNC’s attempts to secure a DPA – was happy.
Mr. Edwards has a chance to start afresh. SNC still has a lot going for it. His challenge will be to convince investors and key employees that the company is not a lost cause. But that won’t be easy, given its starring role in one of the biggest political storms Ottawa has seen in years.

29 May
SNC-Lavalin to stand trial on corruption charges, Quebec judge rules
(CBC) There is enough evidence against SNC-Lavalin for the engineering corporation to be tried on fraud and bribery charges, a Quebec court judge ruled Wednesday.
SNC-Lavalin spent months lobbying the federal government to avoid finding itself in this position. It hoped to use a new legal mechanism — a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) — to pay a fine rather than risk conviction.
Those efforts continued even after the head of the federal prosecution service told the company in the fall that no deal was forthcoming.
Wednesday’s court decision, handed down in Montreal, followed an extended preliminary inquiry into accusations that federal prosecutors filed in 2015.
The new federal justice minister, David Lametti, has so far refused to comment on whether the government is still considering offering SNC-Lavalin a DPA. Legally, he can do so up until there is a verdict in the criminal case.

7 May
SNC-Lavalin weighs breakup amid stock slide, investors told in private meeting
Executives with the Montreal-based engineering giant, which has been charged with bribery and fraud in a case that has created political turmoil for the federal government, told institutional investors at a private luncheon last Friday that its so-called “Plan B” is about generating more value for all stakeholders and that certain businesses could be spun out, according to two people who participated in the meeting.
At the meeting, SNC made specific mention of WS Atkins, which was purchased for $3.6-billion in 2017, telling investors it believes the business is worth more now than two years ago.

30 April
Former SNC-Lavalin official demands Hwy. 407 sale vote
Stephen Jarislowsky, a former director of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and one of Canada’s most outspoken investment managers, is demanding a shareholder vote on the company’s decision to sell the bulk of its stake in Ontario’s 407 toll highway operator for $3.25 billion.
Jarislowsky says such a big move, announced on April 5, runs counter to responsible management, as the engineering and construction firm’s 407 assets comprise about four-fifths of the company’s market valuation of $5.86 billion

15 April
In order to regain public trust, SNC-Lavalin will have to show evidence of its new character
Bob Pickard, principal of Signal Leadership Communication Inc.
(Globe & Mail opinion) Character and competence are twin pillars of any company’s corporate reputation. SNC-Lavalin looked like a classic case of a low-character, yet reasonably competent, company. … It is also important to remember that image and reputation are not the same thing. Image is framed every day in the media, and reputation is the sum total of how those images are perceived over a long period of time.
There’s no way SNC-Lavalin can buy its own brand back with advertising, lawyers or lobbyists; they need to earn the public’s respect by sharing their improved new reality every day, including on social media, starting with the CEO who will have less to complain about if he starts communicating continuously, consistently and authentically.

9 April
SNC-Lavalin cutting costs amid pressure to meet targets
Chief executive Neil Bruce and chief operating officer Ian Edwards sent a memo to SNC managers on March 28 ordering an immediate reduction in discretionary spending and a restriction on hiring. The directive includes a check on business-related travel and a ban on participating in conferences apart from exceptional cases.

5 April
I almost never agree with CB, but this commentary does make sense to me:
Given the importance of the subject, the prime minister should have summoned the minister and the director of prosecutions and whatever independent counsel he thought appropriate. (Wernick suggested “Bev McLachlin,” the former chief justice. … the proposal indicated that Wernick, acting for the prime minister, wanted a balanced legal position, not an improper derailment of a just proceeding, as opponents suggested.) The prime minister should have gone carefully over the case with the minister and the director of prosecutions and specialist advisers and determined if the damage implicit in prosecuting criminally as opposed to a fine was justified, and instructed that the course he thought to be the best reconciliation of the requirements of justice with the overall national interest be followed. He should have been clear about it, kept all the backup material, and been ready to defend his decision in the same terms to the cabinet, the Liberal caucus, Parliament and the country. … There would have been no need for Butts or Wernick to resign. The argument that Trudeau had no right to review the case is spurious: he has an absolute obligation to discharge the duties of his office. Conrad Black: What people are getting wrong about this entire silly affair

SNC-Lavalin revives court bid for special agreement to avoid criminal trial
The Montreal company stressed what it calls new and troubling facts in a fresh court bid for a special agreement to avoid prosecution on corruption charges.
The director of prosecutions formally told SNC-Lavalin on Oct. 9, 2018, that negotiating an agreement would be inappropriate in this particular case, prompting the company to ask the Federal Court for an order requiring talks.
In a March ruling, the Federal Court tossed out the company’s plea for a judicial review of the decision. The court said the law is clear that prosecutorial discretion is not subject to judicial review, except for cases where there is an abuse of process.
In its new filing with the Court of Appeal, SNC-Lavalin says “new and deeply troubling facts” that came to light in the political drama show that checks and balances intended to ensure accountability were “critically circumvented,” amounting to a “clear abuse of process.”

2 April
Cohen: Canada’s SNC melodrama baffles a world facing real crisis
To our allies, our debate is parochial and petty. Worse, in a world of unrest where Canada’s progressiveness matters, it is self-indulgent

29 March
Interesting how conveniently people seem to forget the MUHC and J-C bridge scandals…
Eric Reguly: SNC-Lavalin’s probable exodus from Canada is a national shame
Mr. Bruce said he spends a lot of time running around the world telling clients and employees that the corruption incidents “didn’t happen two months ago; they happened seven to 20 years ago,” and that SNC has cleaned itself up.
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. has been slowly disappearing from Canada for years. That’s mostly SNC’s fault – it hasn’t won enough work to keep its Canadian headcount intact.
Now it’s on the verge of an abrupt departure, but that’s not entirely SNC’s fault. No, it’s not about to be bought by a foreign predator who will turn off the lights at the Montreal head office. SNC’s business in Canada could vanish because the Public Prosecution Service has refused to grant it a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), meaning it faces a criminal trial that could easily destroy its ability to win government contracts. As its name becomes toxic, SNC might be forced to find a non-Canadian address.
… Among the head offices that have disappeared are Alcan, Dofasco, Inco, Molson and a chunk of the Canadian oil industry. Recently, Goldcorp Inc., Canada’s second-biggest gold producer, accepted a takeover offer from Colorado’s Newmont Mining Corp., meaning that Goldcorp’s Vancouver office faces a serious downgrade.
… Justin Trudeau and his cronies in the Prime Minister’s Office can take some blame for SNC’s probable downfall in Canada. They pushed hard – in secret – to convince Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was justice minister to intervene in the corruption case against SNC. That strategy blew up in the Prime Minister’s face.

21 March
Joly joins growing list pointing to House as place to air remaining SNC-Lavalin information
Liberal Minister Melanie Joly is the latest MP to add her name to a growing list of party supporters who are pointing to the House of Commons as the place for former ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott to air any outstanding information they want to share in the SNC-Lavalin controversy
Calls have increased in the last week for the pair to use the Commons to speak to the events surrounding alleged months-long pressure on then-attorney general Wilson-Raybould to seek a remediation agreement instead of criminal charges in a corruption case against the Quebec engineering and construction firm over business dealings in Libya.
That’s because both Philpott and Wilson-Raybould have issued comments indicating they want to, or will be elaborating on the affair that has now dominated headlines for more than a month and a half.
Joly, who is a lawyer, said that if both want to “tell more,” they “clearly” can speak because the protections of parliamentary privilege would apply, but they also have other options — as Liberal MP Judy Sgro put it — to “clear the air.”
“They have the opportunity, three ways: Before Parliament; through the ethics commissioner; and if the parliamentary committee on justice wants to continue to study this issue, it’s up to them to decide,” Joly said.

15 March
Jack Mintz: Trudeau going soft on SNC-Lavalin’s corruption could cost Canada a lot
Thanks to one crooked company, Canada has had the shameful honour of dominating the World Bank’s corruption list since 2013
(Financial Post) …most empirical studies tend to support the notion that a poor rule of law leads to less growth. One 2011 meta-analysis found that an increase in the corruption-value index by one unit causes GDP per capita growth rate to fall by 0.91 percentage points. That’s sizeable. Some studies find the largest negative impacts of corruption are on countries with high-quality public-sector governance regimes, such as Canada. For less-developed economies with poor institutional quality, corruption has a smaller or little impact on growth.
Why Trudeau’s excuse that he’s protecting SNC-Lavalin ‘jobs’ is total baloney
By Ian Lee, professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business and Philip Cross, fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to justify his pressuring of the former attorney general to drop charges against SNC-Lavalin on the grounds that thousands of jobs were at stake. In fact, economic analysis reveals there is no jobs-related reason to intervene on behalf of SNC-Lavalin. The number of jobs potentially at risk is minuscule or non-existent and the company itself says its business is sound. SNC-Lavalin would easily manage a ban on federal projects just as it has flourished despite being banned from World Bank projects since 2013 for corrupt practices. Politics, not economics, is the main motivation for Trudeau and his office to intervene.

11 March
OECD raises concerns about political interference in SNC-Lavalin prosecution
(Globe & Mail) On Monday, the OECD Working Group on Bribery issued a statement saying it is monitoring the political and legal controversy in Canada and reminded the Trudeau government in a letter that it must adhere to prosecutorial independence.
“The OECD Working Group on Bribery is concerned by recent allegations of interference in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin that are subject to proceedings in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights,” the Paris-based organization said in a statement.
Canada is one of 44 countries that signed the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention that is committed to reducing political corruption and corporate crime in developing countries and encourages sanctions against bribery in international business transactions carried out by companies of member countries.
Gerald Butts’ quarrel with Jody Wilson-Raybould’s evidence falls short
By Michael Spratt
(Canadian Lawyer) Gerald Butts came to the justice committee not to bury Canada’s former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould but to praise her. He told the committee that he was not going to “quarrel” with Wilson-Raybould’s evidence and pledged not to say a “single negative word about her.”
And then he did just that.
Discrepancy between coverage and public reaction of SNC-Lavalin story ‘shocking
‘The SNC-Lavalin story is certainly significant, but perhaps not to the degree that its central chroniclers would like, and without the effect that they hope to achieve. Mind you, that would be downright impossible.’
(iPolitics) Every poll shows, understandably, the Liberals as being damaged by all of this, but nothing like to the extent that the journalistic coverage would indicate. In that the discussion and the condemnation fills virtually every newspaper, magazine, and television and radio show every day, Trudeau should be about as popular as a porcupine at a nudist colony.
Yet while his prestige and reputation has clearly been damaged, he is still more appealing that his rivals, and with the election not until October it is entirely possible that he will win.
Part of that is because the Canadian people are not stupid, and realize that whatever the importance of the SNC story it’s clear that many people are motivated more by visceral hatred of Justin Trudeau than by support for Jody Wilson-Raybould. In other words, this is schadenfreude rather than justice, and that can become rather tiresome rather quickly.

10 March
Absolutely no pressure!
AG David Lametti could be SNC-Lavalin’s last hope to avoid prosecution
Engineering firm lost its bid for judicial review of federal prosecutor’s decision
As attorney general, Lametti has the power to decide whether the company should be able to access a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), which would stay those criminal proceedings.
And after losing its bid on Friday for a judicial review of the Director of Public Prosecution’s decision to proceed with criminal prosecution of the company on corruption charges instead of agreeing to a DPA, the company’s attention will now focus on Lametti.
LYSIANE GAGNON makes some valid points, BUT
AFFAIRE SNC-LAVALIN La construction d’une héroïne
Après tous ces témoignages, dont ceux, particulièrement informatifs, de Gerald Butts et de la sous-ministre de la Justice, Nathalie Drouin, on comprend un peu mieux ce qui s’est passé dans le pseudo-scandale qui chambarde la classe politico-médiatique du Canada anglais.
Chose certaine, rien dans cette affaire ne nécessitait que le premier ministre Trudeau fasse son acte de contrition, comme le réclament les commentateurs les plus surexcités des médias anglophones.
C’est plutôt ceux qui ont élevé une statue à Jody Wilson-Raybould qui devraient faire leur examen de conscience.

9 March
5 things we may never know about the SNC-Lavalin scandal
Without a trial or broader probe, Canadians could be left in the dark about company’s history of corruption
(CBC) The prosecution of SNC-Lavalin is proceeding full-steam ahead, with a preliminary hearing already underway in Montreal. A criminal trial is possible within a year.
That is unless the Trudeau government hands the Quebec company a get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of a much-talked-about deferred prosecution agreement.
A closer look at SNC-Lavalin’s sometimes murky past
If a DPA is granted, there won’t be a trial and Canadians may never hear how far up the corporate ladder the alleged corruption went inside the global engineering firm.
And with the current parliamentary hearings so narrowly focused on the “he said, she said” of the Prime Minister’s Office and the former attorney general, Canadians are at risk of never learning the full extent to which SNC-Lavalin may have influenced the government.
Why many Quebecers want SNC-Lavalin to stand trial — despite warnings about jobs
Support for a deferred prosecution agreement is strong in Quebec, but far from unanimous
(CBC) Conservative MP Gérard Deltell:
“If you look at the newspaper people, most of them are on the side of SNC-Lavalin, but that’s not the reality on the ground,” Deltell said, referring to what he sees as a disconnect between voters and the province’s columnists.
“We’re talking about a business that has a long history of corruption,” he said, pointing to SNC-Lavalin’s involvement in the McGill University Health Centre superhospital scandal. Deltell points to a recent poll, conducted by Nanos for the Globe and Mail, that suggests 41 per cent of Quebecers want to see SNC-Lavalin have “a real trial.”

8 March
Opinion: Why didn’t SNC-Lavalin get a deferred prosecution deal?
We still don’t know why Jody Wilson-Raybould opposed the company’s request. If there was ever a case for a DPA, it was here.
Donald Johnston, Special to Montreal Gazette
Butts and others, including the prime minister himself and the clerk of the privy council, agree that the decision on a DPA is an attorney general’s to make. Nothing illegal happened, as Wilson-Raybould admits. However in reaching a decision on a complex issue with major public policy considerations, should the minister not be open to advice? … Rather than seek an external legal opinion from a respected source, Wilson-Raybould relied on in-house legal advisors, though the criteria for the application of a DPA is likely beyond their expertise in social and economic issues.
It is regrettable that the Prime Minister’s Office apparently had no communications strategy in place to explain the background and purpose of DPAs to the public.
In 2017, the government produced a paper inviting input on a law authorizing DPAs, a law since adopted. It stated: “DPAs may reduce the negative consequences for blameless employees, shareholders, customers, pensioners, suppliers and investors and may enhance the prospects for prosecuting and holding criminally liable the individuals within the corporation who are responsible for the corporate wrongdoing. A DPA would also prevent the company from being disqualified from receiving procurement contracts under conviction-based debarment regimes.”
The Canadian Bar Association responded in a comprehensive analysis that included this observation: “Debarment can lead to the kinds of harm to blameless persons that DPAs are intended to avoid. … An automatic five-to-10 year debarment carries significant consequences and may effectively dissolve a firm that is highly dependent on government contracts.”
Had the purpose and criteria for invoking a DPA been well known to the general public, there would be no story, especially had the company been subjected under a DPA to a substantial financial penalty. It should be also be noted that a DPA does not protect individuals from prosecution, as indeed has happened.
SNC-Lavalin loses court bid for special agreement to avoid criminal prosecution.
In a ruling Friday, the Federal Court of Canada tossed out the Montreal-based engineering firm’s plea for judicial review of the 2018 decision by the director of public prosecutions.
Coyne: Why fight criminal charges in court when you can lobby?
“SNC-Lavalin chose to fight the charges in government, rather than court. They did so, we may conclude, because they were given reason to believe it would work”
At last the Liberal government has that outside legal opinion it was seeking. A federal court judge has ruled the director of public prosecutions’ decision to bring SNC-Lavalin to trial on charges of fraud and corruption, rather than to negotiate a “remediation agreement” as the company preferred, was a proper exercise of her prosecutorial discretion.
By extension she has endorsed the former attorney general’s refusal to overrule that decision. For the flipside of prosecutorial discretion is prosecutorial independence, hallowed by centuries of common law and, as the judge wrote, “essential and fundamental to the criminal justice system.”
There’s a reason no attorney general has ever overridden a DPP’s decision in a specific prosecution. It is the same reason the office of the DPP was set up in the first place: to insulate such decisions, so far as possible, from political interference.

6-7 March
Trudeau speaks on SNC-Lavalin: A guide to what he said Thursday
(Globe & Mail) Acknowledging an “erosion of trust” between his staff and Jody Wilson-Raybould, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke publicly about the SNC-Lavalin affair in Ottawa on Thursday. He did not apologize and repeated his view that neither he nor his staff had done anything wrong, but he said “situations were experienced differently and I regret that.”
What has become clear over the various testimonies is over the past months there was an erosion of trust between my office, my former principal secretary and the former attorney-general. I was not aware of that erosion of trust. As Prime Minister and leader of the federal ministry, I should have been.
Coyne: It was Wilson-Raybould’s decision, as long as she decided it their way
There’s a way to sort this out: subpoena all communication on the subject between the players named. Sorry — the Liberal majority voted not to do so.

Chris Hall: In the SNC-Lavalin affair, everyone seems to be entitled to their own opinions — and facts
Gerald Butts managed to turn the narrative into a high-stakes ‘he said/she said’
(CBC) The former top adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a measured and thorough presentation to committee members. His performance rivaled former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s during her own appearance a week earlier, both in the level of detail and tone.
But stripped to its core, it’s just another installment of the “he said, she said” plot that’s been playing out ever since the first media reports emerged alleging Wilson-Raybould had been pressured last fall to intervene in SNC-Lavalin’s criminal prosecution
‘Consider a second opinion’: Gerald Butts on what top officials asked Wilson-Raybould to do in SNC-Lavalin affair (video)
Gerald Butts, former right-hand man to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, says he takes responsibility for “a breakdown in trust” between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould over the SNC-Lavalin affair.
The Butts testimony: Have I mentioned the 9,000 jobs?
Paul Wells: Someone close to the PM finally explained their thinking around this scandal. It revealed a political operation whose judgment was hard to admire.
Taken together, Butts’ testimony adds up to a portrait of a governing inner circle that would not ever take a “no” from a director of public prosecutions as final. They would not ever take Jody Wilson-Raybould’s refusal to correct the prosecutor as final. They could not believe an important decision could be made in a week and a half. They could not, themselves, manage a cabinet shuffle in a much longer span of time, except by making a mockery of its central strategic imperative. And they can provide no evidence for the jobs claim that, to this day, Gerald Butts still uses to browbeat anyone who would disagree with the government’s behaviour throughout this saga.
Key moments from Gerald Butts’s SNC-Lavalin testimony
Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former principal secretary, challenged former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s version of events on the SNC-Lavalin file during testimony before the House of Commons justice committee in Ottawa Wednesday.
Butts said there was no co-ordinated effort inside the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to pressure Wilson-Raybould to overrule the director of public prosecutions and negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with SNC-Lavalin so it could avoid a trial over allegations it used bribery to secure government contracts in Libya.
“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if he or anyone else exerted such influence on the former minister. “I really don’t have an opinion on what decision the current or former attorney general should make. I’m glad I’m not in their shoes.”

5 March
Trudeau expected to change his tone on SNC-Lavalin affair in a statement in coming days
The prime minister cancelled a planned trip to Regina, instead returning to Ottawa for an emergency strategy session with his senior staff and advisers in order to come up with a way forward on the SNC-Lavalin affair. A new strategy is expected to come out of the meetings, one in which the prime minister is expected to strike a more apologetic tone and demonstrate contrition, likely in the form of a statement to Canadians.

3 March
More than half of Canadians say charges against SNC-Lavalin should go to criminal trial: poll
(Globe & Mail) More than half of Canadians say fraud and corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. should go to a criminal trial rather than a negotiated settlement where the Montreal engineering and construction giant would pay fines and avoid prosecution, according to a new survey.
The numbers, provided exclusively to The Globe and Mail and CTV News, are based on a Nanos poll of 750 Canadians from Feb. 28 to March 1.
In the Nanos poll, 55 per cent of Canadians nationally think SNC-Lavalin should face a criminal trial, while 35 per cent said they prefer remediation and 10 per cent said they were unsure. Respondents were asked the same questions from Feb. 23 to 26, before Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s testimony to the committee, and reported similar results: 53 per cent in support of a criminal trial, 35 per cent for remediation and 12 per cent unsure.

2 March
Lysianne Gagnon : Trudeau et le « Jodygate »
L’erreur fondamentale du premier ministre a été de nommer au poste délicat de procureur général une néophyte dont la seule expérience politique s’était forgée dans le militantisme en faveur de la cause autochtone, à laquelle elle s’est vouée pendant les 12 années précédant sa nomination après une expérience de trois ans comme procureur de la Couronne à Vancouver. Il aurait pu se contenter de nommer Mme Wilson-Raybould à la Justice, qui est tout de même (avec les Finances) le ministère le plus important !

1 March
Jennifer Ditchburn: Wilson-Raybould’s story has ring of familiarity for working women
(Policy Options) The lingering perception after this week’s testimony is that even an accomplished woman like Jody Wilson-Raybould can’t escape being undermined
Appointing a gender balanced cabinet was a laudable gesture by the Liberals, and even more so that women were appointed to senior positions. It has the powerful effect of telling girls that being a justice minister or foreign minister is absolutely normal. It signals to corporations, academia, conference organizers and management teams that coasting along without women at the table is no longer acceptable.
So, what is the message that is being transmitted when a senior cabinet minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, is demoted for no reason obvious to the public? What do Canadians make of that senior cabinet minister having her judgment and decisions questioned over and over again?
Chantal Hébert: Four important questions in the SNC-Lavalin scandal
Another week of political drama on Parliament Hill finds the SNC-Lavalin affair no closer to closure. In the aftermath of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s appearance at the Commons justice committee, even the future of the prime minister as Liberal leader has become fair game for speculation.
If anything, the former attorney general’s testimony has left many Canadians with more questions than definitive answers.
1. A central assumption in Wilson-Raybould’s testimony is that given the same facts, any ethical attorney general would have come to the same conclusion and refused to use his or her discretion to overturn the public prosecutor’s decision to pursue a criminal trial against SNC-Lavalin. But is that really the case?
2. The SNC-Lavalin file commanded an impressive amount of high-level political attention. But would an NDP or Conservative government have been any less responsive to the firm’s lobbying?
With 9,000 Canadian jobs potentially on the line, any responsible federal government would have taken the time to carefully weigh the option of mitigating the possible damage to the firm’s future following a criminal conviction.
3. With the official Opposition calling for Trudeau’s resignation, how fragile is the prime minister’s leadership? For now, a caucus-induced resignation is not in the cards.
But would the facade of unity of the Liberal caucus sustain a prime ministerial bid to strong-arm Wilson-Raybould out of the government benches?
4. What about the NDP’s and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s calls for a public inquiry? A strong case has yet to be made that it would accomplish a lot more than the current work of the justice committee. Given the delays that would inevitably attend the orderly setting up of a public inquiry, the justice committee’s work — as imperfect as it may be — offers voters their best and perhaps only chance of getting a more complete picture in time for the Oct. 21 election.
Opposition parties close in with SNC-Lavalin affair, but Liberals ‘haven’t lost the election’ yet: expert
(CBC The Current) “[The Liberals] haven’t lost this election yet, not by a long shot,” said David Moscrop, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of communication at the University of Ottawa. “If I were them, I would try to get everything out, from everyone right away,” he told The Current’s guest host Duncan McCue.
“Hold folks accountable — which will mean no doubt resignations — get the team together and try to change the channel come spring.”
Their election prospects could rest on how they handle the controversy, he pointed out.
Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, warned that having Butts testify “only continues the drip, drip, drip” of the controversy.
“It only keeps a cloud over this government and this prime minister’s head — what they need is a reset,” she said, arguing that the Liberals should use the upcoming budget to “focus on substance.”
Leah McLaren: Justin Trudeau’s disgrace is like watching a unicorn get run over
(The Guardian) The political scandal engulfing the Canadian prime minister has outed him as not quite the hero we all believed he was

28 February
We don’t often agree with Margaret Wente, but she raises one important issue in I’m ashamed for my country
“Also disillusioning was the role played by Michael Wernick, the Clerk of the Privy Council, a man nobody had ever heard of until now. Isn’t he supposed to be above politics? And even if he’s not, it’s amazing to behold Canada’s most senior public servant act in such a nakedly partisan manner. He appears to have turned out to be just another lackey, allegedly hounding Ms. Wilson-Raybould on the Prime Minister’s behalf. “I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould says he told her, less than a month before she was dumped.”

Trudeau’s former top adviser to testify at committee probing SNC-Lavalin affair
Gerry Butts says his evidence can assist MPs after hearing testimony from Jody Wilson-Raybould
With link to Power & Politics video
Justin Trudeau’s reelection bid hits the rocks
The Canadian leader faces unprecedented political peril as a fast-escalating scandal implicates him specifically.
(Politico) Until recently, his reelection appeared to be nearly a lock. The latest polls now show him slipping into a tight race — and those surveys don’t even capture the latest influx of damaging detail.

27 February
The moral catastrophe of Justin Trudeau
Paul Wells: What Jody Wilson-Raybould described today is a sickeningly smug protection racket and it should make us all question what we’re willing to tolerate
Unless the Trudeau Liberals can produce persuasive evidence that Jody Wilson-Raybould is an utter fabulist (and frankly, I now expect several to try), her testimony before the Commons Justice Committee establishes pretty clearly that the hucksters and worse were running the show.
There will now be a period of stark partisanship. We’re in an election year. Loyal Liberals will tell themselves, and then everyone else, that the price of looking clearly at Justin Trudeau’s bully club (so many men; wonder how Katie Telford felt about that while she was signing off on every element of it) is ceding the field to Andrew Scheer. Who, they will tell themselves and then the country, is an actual Nazi.
I mean, after all, that’s pretty close to what they told one another, and then Jody Wilson-Raybould, last fall, isn’t it?
What the former attorney general described tonight is a sickeningly smug protection racket whose participants must have been astonished when she refused to play along. If a company can rewrite the Criminal Code to get out of a trial whose start date was set before the legislation was drafted, all because a doomed Quebec government has its appointment with the voter, then which excesses are not permitted, under the same justification? If a Clerk of the Privy Council can claim with a straight face that ten calls and meetings with the attorney general, during which massive job loss, an angry PM and a lost election are threatened, don’t constitute interference, then what on earth would interference look like?

Trudeau ‘asked me to help out, to find a solution to SNC’: Wilson-Raybould
(Globe & Mail) “For a period of approximately four months, between September and December of 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the attorney-general of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin,” Ms. Wilson-Rayould told MPs.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould said the lobby campaign involved 11 people from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office and the Office of the Minister of Finance.
“Within these conversations, there were express statements regarding the necessity of interference in the SNC-Lavalin matter, the potential of consequences and veiled threats if a DPA (deferred prosecution agreement) was not made available to SNC,” she said.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould reviewed the meeting and conversations that took place last fall with the Prime Minister including his chief of staff Katie Telford and principal secretary Gerald Butts, who has stepped down.
“The consistent and enduring efforts, even in the face of judicial proceedings on the same matter, and in the face of a clear decision of the director of public prosecutions and the attorney-general, to continue and even intensify such efforts raises serious red flags in my view, yet this is what continued to happen,” she said. “In my view the communications and efforts to change my mind should have stopped.”

Jody Wilson-Raybould says she received ‘veiled threats’ over SNC-Lavalin case
(Montreal Gazette) Her remarks to the House of Commons justice committee deepen what is already the biggest crisis of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tenure.
While officials say they spoke to Wilson-Raybould about the potential economic damage a trial could cause SNC-Lavalin, they insist they did not behave inappropriately.
Wilson-Raybould painted a very different picture during what said had been 10 phone calls and 10 meetings between herself and her staff and a number of senior officials

SNC-Lavalin paid for Gadhafi son’s debauchery while in Canada: report
Receipts show $30,000 in payments to Saadi Gadhafi for sexual services in Canada in 2008
The sordid tale, revealed by Quebec newspaper La Presse Wednesday, comes to light as former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould testifies about whether she was unduly pressured last fall to help SNC-Lavalin avoid federal corruption charges associated with their business dealings in Libya.

26 February
Wilson-Raybould to testify at committee probing SNC-Lavalin affair Wednesday
Former attorney general has been granted broad waiver on cabinet confidence, solicitor-client privilege

Bill Trudell: SNC-Lavalin, Wilson-Raybould and a sad state of affairs
(Canadian Lawyer) We have now been subjected, perhaps participated in, unending speculation, innuendo, recriminations, claims of coverup, criminal wrongdoing, obstruction, scandal and personal attacks sparked by a Globe and Mail article that suggested improper pressure or influence or interference upon the former attorney general in light of the apparent refusal to defer a prosecution against SNC-Lavalin — a matter still before the courts, lest we forget.
We don’t know what actually happened to create such a tsunami of uninformed accusations, but it is time to stop, take a breath and end the careless accusations that are damaging institutions and individuals.

Law firm seeks class-action against SNC-Lavalin in connection with charges
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. faces new legal troubles as a shareholder has initiated a class-action lawsuit in connection with the company’s disclosure about the criminal charges against the embattled engineering firm.

22 February
Coyne: Wilson-Raybould was pressured. They just didn’t call it that
How was she supposed to negotiate a remediation agreement, if the endpoint – that SNC-Lavalin was to be let off on all charges — had already been decided?
First she was not directed. Then she was not pressured. Now, courtesy of the clerk of the privy council, we learn she was not “inappropriately” pressured. The progression is familiar: when you cannot deny a thing is true, deny that it matters.
As we have been discovering in recent days, in fact all sorts of pressure was applied to the former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould — by the prime minister, by his officials, by the clerk — to politicize the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. They just didn’t call it that, at least until now.
Leave aside the legal and ethical considerations. I’m just interested in how they thought this would work. Suppose she had bowed to the “appropriate pressure” of the prime minister and his people and ordered the director of public prosecutions to drop all charges against SNC-Lavalin and negotiate a remediation agreement in their place.
What would she, and they, have done when the DPP informed her this was not lawful, as the company had not met the conditions the law requires for her to enter such negotiations, having neither voluntarily disclosed its alleged wrongdoing, nor admitted corporate responsibility for it, nor made reparations to the people it had allegedly defrauded?

Surely we are not going to allow them to be sacrificed on the altar of a narrow and dogmatic interpretation of what is, let us remember, a mere convention?

21 February
Top civil servant denies ‘inappropriate’ pressure against Wilson-Raybould in SNC-Lavalin case
PCO clerk Michael Wernick says he warned of ‘consequences’ of prosecution against engineering giant
In blunt testimony before the justice committee Thursday, Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick said he called the then-justice minister and attorney general on Dec. 19, 2018 to discuss various issues — including the option of a remediation agreement that would serve as an alternative to prosecution for the Quebec-based global engineering company, which is facing bribery and fraud charges related to contracts in Libya.

20 February
Wilson-Raybould told cabinet SNC-Lavalin pressure was improper
(Globe & Mail) According to a source with knowledge of the cabinet discussions, Ms. Wilson-Raybould said the director of the prosecution service rejected a negotiated settlement with SNC-Lavalin based on how the law applies to the company’s case. …  Under Canada’s new deferred-prosecution agreement law, prosecutors are not allowed to consider national economic interests when deciding whether to settle with a company. … Once prosecutors decided in early September to move to trial, Ms. Wilson-Raybould told cabinet she felt it was wrong for anyone – including the Prime Minister, members of his staff and other government officials – to raise the issue with her, the source said.

19 February
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.
The rule of thumb for prosecutors in my day – which presumably still applies – was that before laying a Criminal Code charge, we must be convinced by police reports that the Code has been violated and that there is enough evidence available that, if admitted at trial, a jury properly charged would probably convict.
Political or economic convenience for anyone, including a prime minister or political party, is never a factor in deciding to prosecute in a rule of law democracy like Canada. The removal of a justice minister because she refused to violate this well-established principle would be outrageous, especially when rule of law principles are under assault in so many capitals around the world.
In the indicated circumstances, a public inquiry by a respected jurist, such as former governor general David Johnston, with a very short time limit of, say, 30 days, is probably the best way to deal with the governance crisis, since only a small number of witnesses need be consulted. The prime minister should also waive the solicitor-client privilege and allow his former justice minister to speak freely and truthfully on the matter.

Fraud and bribery case thrown out against former SNC-Lavalin executive Stéphane Roy
(Global) A Quebec court judge stayed charges of fraud and bribery against former SNC-Lavalin executive Stéphane Roy Tuesday, ruling his right to a trial within a reasonable time had been violated.
… the bribery charge against Roy stemmed from an allegation that he had plotted with a fellow SNC-Lavalin executive, Riadh Ben Aissa, to smuggle someone out of Libya. An RCMP affidavit filed in relation to its investigation alleged Roy was involved in a plot to smuggle Gadhafi’s son, Saadi, and his family into Mexico as the Libyan regime was failing in 2011.
Roy’s case resulted from the same RCMP investigation that led to charges against SNC-Lavalin, which is accused of paying nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011 to influence government decisions.

18 February
Justin Trudeau’s top adviser Gerald Butts resigns amid SNC-Lavalin affair
(Global) Gerald Butts, Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary and senior political advisor, has resigned amid allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to prevent the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

16 February
Wilson-Raybould challenged Trudeau on SNC-Lavalin, Prime Minister concedes
(Globe & Mail) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed Friday that former justice minister and attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould had approached him to clarify whether he was in fact ordering her to make a particular decision on the bribery and fraud prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group.
He said her question, in September, 2018, came amid a major lobbying campaign on the matter.
Also, Friday, Mr. Trudeau told media that he only removed Ms. Wilson-Raybould from her job as justice minister and attorney-general because a surprise departure from cabinet triggered a shuffle.

15 February
Entente à l’amiable avec SNC-Lavalin – Les efforts d’Ottawa étaient voués à l’échec
(La Presse) Car les changements au Code criminel qu’il a insérés dans un projet de loi visant à mettre en oeuvre le budget fédéral (C-74) qui a été adopté au printemps dernier comportent une clause qui interdit explicitement au Service des poursuites pénales du Canada de prendre en compte «les considérations d’intérêt économique national» si l’entreprise fautive est visée par des accusations en vertu de la Loi sur la corruption d’agents publics étrangers.

13 February
David T. Jones: SNC-Lavalin Affair: Canada Goes Back to Its Roots
(Epoch Times) SNC-Lavalin is one of Canada’s iconic companies, starting from nothing a century ago to become a major national/global player with 50,000 employees, 9,000 in Canada and 3,400 in Quebec, where Montreal is its home base—and the location of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s riding. Canadians, and particularly Quebecers, are proud of its leadership in major construction/hydroelectric projects. Along with Bombardier, SNC-Lavalin is in the “too big to fail” category—too big both politically and economically.
But SNC-Lavalin is a problem child. It is not as if it has “blotted its copybook” so much as its copybook is a black hole of extended scandal, corruption, and questionable activity by its senior leadership, some of whom are in prison for their activities. Giving it a pass would certainly prompt the gag reflex of those for whom the “rule of law” is the overriding imperative for all activity subject to jurisprudence.
In any event, the Canadian legal system didn’t play by the anticipated, albeit implicit, rules. The federal director of public prosecution declined to offer deferred prosecution and shifted the “monkey” to the back of Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to issue such a deferral.
12 February

Canada, the show
Paul Wells: You thought this government was about family benefits and boil-water advisories? The Lavalin affair offers a glimpse of the real scene—maybe the real Canada.
For more than three years since the smiling son of the other Trudeau was elected, I kind of thought the attention of the highest figures in government was focussed, at least most of the time, on the middle class and those working hard to join it. On more generous child benefits and beefed-up public pensions, on infrastructure and innovation and boil-water advisories and soothing the American president. …  now it turns out that for the entire time, there was another show going on, with altogether more glamorous casting, somewhere behind bouncers and a rope line you didn’t even know were there. Since Thursday we’ve had tantalizing glimpses of the real show. And, perhaps, of the real Canada.
Eighty meetings, the SNC-Lavalin lobbyists had with tout ce qui bouge à Ottawa. …
The entire country, we learn, was in the business of crafting Deferred Prosecution Agreements. Or at least everyone behind the rope line was. …
Not secret meetings—it’s all scrupulously logged in the lobby register. And the whole glorious process led precisely where it was supposed to lead, where anyone involved would have told you it was going to lead, if you had thought to ask: to a new chapter inserted into the Criminal Code, Part XXII.1, “Remediation Agreements.”
This sort of thing is done all over, we are told. France and Australia and Great Britain, we are told. Although, funny thing, what we are less often told is that Remediation Agreements, aka Deferred Prosecution Agreements, are novel instruments of only a few years’ standing or less, even in most of those other countries.
… I have here, open on my browser on neighbouring tabs, six columns from six different Montreal-based news organizations arguing, in so many words, that the alternative to giving SNC a Deferred Prosecution Agreement is economic chaos. All published today, Tuesday.

Nine subtle (and not-so) signals in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation letter
Anne Kingston: The letter from the former cabinet minister is a masterclass in how to communicate volumes between the lines
Wilson-Raybould’s resignation prompts Trudeau to say she failed in duty to voice SNC concerns
At an evening news conference in Winnipeg, Mr. Trudeau repeatedly stated that Ms. Wilson-Raybould had never complained to him about political pressure from his office.
However, senior government officials told The Globe in recent days there was vigorous debate among Mr. Trudeau’s staff and other government officials, including cabinet ministers, involving Ms. Wilson-Raybould, over the SNC-Lavalin prosecution, but they argued it should not be construed as pressure. The officials said the government was concerned about the impact of a conviction on the company and its employees.

8 February
Billions at stake for SNC-Lavalin — corruption conviction would bar firm from federal contracts for 10 years
SNC has a long history of building major infrastructure projects in Canada, including the $6.3-billion REM rail line in Montreal currently under construction. That rail project remains the sole investment made thus far by the Canada Infrastructure Bank, a body introduced by the Trudeau government in 2016 that aims to funnel $35 billion into various infrastructure projects over a 10-year period. SNC is also on the short list to build the $3.6-billion expansion of Ottawa’s light rail system.
But financial analysts and legal experts say that a bribery and fraud conviction against the company would bar it from bidding on any federal contracts for 10 years, and would even allow federal authorities to cancel the company’s current infrastructure contracts, if deemed necessary.

One Comment on "SNC-Lavalin 2019"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson March 6, 2019 at 10:28 pm ·

    David Kilgour: I was not at the hearing today, but did Butts really say that “nothing happened here beyond normal operations of government”? Why did he resign if nothing inappropriate occurred?
    Misha P.: On the topic of those oft-mentioned 9,000 jobs, there is one detail that is being overlooked: what about the 11,000 jobs? In 2013, SNC employed by its own count 20,000 employees in Canada. 2013 was also the year it was put on the World Bank’s blacklist for corruption charges in India and Bangladesh. Locked out of many important infrastructure projects worldwide, the Canadian government nevertheless threw many high profile jobs their way, from BC to Quebec. And what was SNC’s reaction to this largesse? Cutting over half its national workforce and moving it overseas, where it totals ~41,000 today.
    What makes us think that bailing SNC out once again for its misdeeds at home and abroad will have a different outcome today? Firms love to threaten “unfavourable conditions” for cutting local jobs, but at the end of the day they do it regardless of whether or not the government and public are gullible enough to throw more billions at them in the name of national pride.

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