The best argument I have heard in defence of SNC-Lavalin and how this government jury-rigged the criminal code is that it's too big to fail. The people of Quebec, we're told, love Lavalin. It makes them proud. It makes them happy.
Sure it has a rich history of corruption from a decade of bribing Gaddafi's people to that Montreal hospital scandal (Arthur Porter) and the Jacques-Cartier bridge fiasco but so what? And let's not forget that other problem - getting disbarred from bidding on World Bank projects.
In September 2013, SNC-Lavalin and its affiliates composed 115 of the 117 Canadian companies that were part of 250 total companies blacklisted from bidding on the World Bank's global projects. James David Fielder, the bank's manager, stated, “As it stands today, the World Bank debarment list includes a high number of Canadian companies, the majority of which are affiliates to SNC-Lavalin Inc.” The companies were debarred due to an investigation relating to the Padma Bridge project in Bangladesh, where World Bank investigators worked with RCMP officers to make a collective action against corruption.Let's dwell a moment on this Deferred Prosecution Agreement business that was enacted at Lavalin's request and without any debate by Mr. Trudeau's government.
The entire rationale for it is that, without DPA, Lavalin would be barred from government contracts for a decade. That, in turn, would be the death knell for Lavalin and put thousands of Quebecers out of work.
Let's say that all that's true. Without the DPA, Lavalin goes down. It needs those government contracts and it is too big to fail.
If Lavalin did crater, would those contracts go unfilled? No, of course not. We have other engineering companies. One, perhaps many of them, would get those contracts. They would employ people to do the work. The work would get done.
Here's the thing. If the government is going to such lengths to sweep the stables for one pony, it's that one pony that's destined for greatness. Amending the criminal law of the land for one firm would be pointless unless that favoured firm goes on to "win" those contracts. If you can rewrite the criminal law to make that happen do you think the government won't have its thumb on the scale when it comes time to tender. It's a time-honoured game to write tenders to suit the preferred bidder.
You're not going to those lengths to give the company a legal leg-up and then give those contracts to some other firm that can't offer a similar political payoff. You're not going to take this heat only to hand those supposedly "life and death" contracts to some other contender.
There's an election in eight months and the guy who just fixed the law needs those Quebec seats now more than ever. Quid pro quo. Lavalin wins, the Liberals win. The fix is in.
I thought the DPA was enacted because important trading partners (ie. USA) have similar legislation. Consequently, without it, Canada would be at a disadvantage.
That being said, I don't particularly like the idea.
Also, how is it different from a plea bargain?
My understanding is with a plea bargain you have to plead guilty to something ( a lesser charge ). With a DPA a a fine is paid but no guilt is admitted. Both are closer to restorative justice than revenge justice.
Either way it works for all Canadian provinces and subsidiary companies that do and will depend on Snc Lavalin for contracts and thousands of Canadian jobs.
What I don't understand is the need for this sort of law at all. If some employees, even corporate executives break the law why is the company blamed? Why not charge those employees directly? If the CEO of SNC-Lavalin is responsible for crooked behaviour then he should be in the dock facing the will of the court.
Of course it works. And, taken in isolation, it almost makes sense. But, as I wrote two days ago, we only have to look to the country that gave birth to this idea to see where it can lead.
Once it becomes somewhat commonplace, once the public becomes inured to it, it can transform into just another "cost of doing business." A company can commit crimes figuring that, when they are caught, they're off the hook with a fine and when they're not detected they can make out like bandits.
This arrangement, once normalized, invites a pattern of co-operation between the corporate sector and the political caste.
Look at what happened to KPMG and its "investors" in the Isle of Man tax evasion scam. Nothing. Those who were caught committing tax evasion were allowed to pay some or all of what they owed and go on their merry way. KPMG? Nothing. Those, of course, were "Higher Purpose Persons." You, well you would probably be going to jail if you didn't have a "too big to fail" accountancy with close Liberal ties to run cover for you both.
It's amazing how, when it's your party, be you Tory or Liberal, how naive you're willing to become in order to vouchsafe your team.
One other thing. You won't hear this from the Tories because the Lavalin deal is a Liberal fix but you do hear this from Liberal apologists. They say, "But look it can't be crooked. The law says it must be gazetted."
When was the last time you put your feet up and read the Canada Gazette? Jeebus, no one read the 500-page omnibus bill inside which Trudeau buried this criminal law amendment. Nobody read it, no debate, no nothing.
Instead we got "Well, the Americans do it and the Brits do it, so..." So, so what? Don't tell me they all do it. Tell me their experience of it, how it has worked, how often it has been manipulated and abused, where it has failed. That's what I need to know. That's what you need to know. And you don't know. You do know that both of those states have become increasingly corporatist. You know they're both neoliberal as hell. You know we're going the same way.
This coy naivete that Liberals are spewing is horseshit, pure horseshit.
Corruption in plain sight. Nothing new here.
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