The Legalization of Corruption in Canada

DAN DONOVAN  –  Mar 12, 2019

(link to full article below)

Lobbyists have always been around this town and had influence, but having them create a new law to justify breaking laws is beyond the pale.

What many people outside of Ottawa don't understand is that there is a parallel system of government in Ottawa. This Deep State has more power than the elected MPs and Ministers who are supposed to run the country. These are the lobbyists who ply their trade with the efficiency of a surgeon’s scalpel. They ensure that banks, telecoms, airlines, special interest groups and large corporations like SNC-Lavalin (SNC) can skirt the rules. They might even make special ones providing protections that everyday taxpayers would never receive.

The big banks and credit card companies in Canada continually rake in billions of dollars in profits each quarter through services fees and other outrageous charges that can only be made in an uncompetitive, monopolistic banking structure—ever wonder how? These banks have a permanent lobby in Ottawa known as the Canadian Banking Association. They monitor legislation and issues, meet with key Ministers, and spin jargon to claim they are actually competitive businesses in order to justify their constant consumer fee increases and monopolistic banking practices.

For decades, they have shut down competition in Canadian banking. With government approval, they have colluded with insurance companies to increase fees and suppress competition in that industry as well. They have successfully shut down all attempts to rein in the double-digit credit card interest rates and the annual service fees and charges that are, essentially, legalized theft. Banks, airlines, marketing boards, telecoms and large corporations all support the Deep State, hiring former political aides or Ministers to work for them as “lobbyists.” They thrive in Ottawa and other provincial capitals.

You can “visit” the Deep State online by going to the website of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada—if you can call them that. “Commissioner” is the wrong title for this job: a better title would be “Maitre’D” of Lobbying. The current holder of the post, Nancy Bélanger, was appointed by Justin Trudeau on December 30, 2017, for a seven-year term. The government seemingly installed someone with no prior substantive corporate experience despite the fact that the majority of lobbying involves the business sector. Bélanger has never worked in the private sector and has spent her entire career in government, much of it working as a senior legal advisor with the Immigration and Refugee Board. To say she is a toothless tiger would be an understatement. Her silence about SNC lobbyist scandal rocking Canada's government and justice system speaks volumes about the impotency of her office.

The Trudeau Liberal government allowed the Deep State to achieve an unprecedented level of influence. They passed Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) legislation allowing for sentencing agreements between the government and a criminal corporation, where the criminal agrees to plead guilty and pay a large fine in exchange for a “get out of jail free” pass and the ability to continue to bid on more government contracts. As a result, corporations in Canada can now be involved in criminal acts and get off if they can pay; in essence, corruption and criminality are legal. This new law was cut in the back rooms of Ottawa at the behest of SNC-Lavalin and a cabal of other lobbyists who convinced an incognizant Prime Minister, a conceited Clerk of the Privy Council, a dimwitted Minister of Finance, several obstinate cabinet ministers and a caucus of sheep to pass this DPA legislation into law. They supported it despite the fact that it would allow for transformative changes in terms of how corporate criminal fraud cases would be prosecuted under the criminal code. When the matter was raised for debate by committee members at the Justice Committee, the Liberal majority on the committee shut down reviewing the DPA legislation. A Conservative Senator also flagged it but was voted down by the Trudeau appointed “independent” senators. The government buried the bill in the bowels of a larger Omnibus Bill that that included the 2018 Federal Budget Implementation Act. The DPA section is in Division 20 in Part 6 of the 385-page document (making Deferred Prosecution Agreements a legal part of the Criminal Code, Part XXII.1, “Remediation Agreements).

Conservative finance critic and Ottawa-Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre stumbled on the provision during Committee hearings to review the Budget Bill. He questioned why such a law was being put forward which allowed criminals to avoid prosecution. Surprisingly, the Chair of the Finance Committee, Liberal MP Wayne Easter, admitted he did even not know a criminal code change (DPAs) was in the budget bill. He told the committee, “there is a huge question whether this (DPA’s) should be in a budget bill.” Hull-Aylmer Liberal MP Greg Fergus told the committee that he too was surprised to see the DPA law in the budget bill and acknowledged that he learned of it when Poilievere mentioned it. “It left an uncomfortable taste in my mouth,” Fergus added. “It seems we are letting white-collar criminals off the hook with a slap on the wrist.”

Poilievre raised the matter again in the House of Commons in May 2018, asking Finance Minister Bill Morneau why the budget bill included “a provision that would allow accused white-collar criminals charged with bribery, fraud, insider trading and other offences to have all charges dropped.” Morneau responded, “We believe that our approach to deferred prosecution agreements will enable us to pursue an approach that is functioning and doing well in other economies—one that will result in more effective continuation of business success by companies once they have paid their dues to society.” In plain terms, Morneau was saying – do the crime, pay a big fine, and business as usual.

Despite their concerns about criminality, both Wayne Easter and Greg Fergus voted in favour of the DPA legislation without changes along with every other government MP. The law to resolve corporate offences in Canada under the Criminal Code and the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (DPA) took effect on September 19, 2018.

In February 2019, Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick testified before the Justice Committee that DPA legislation had been a transparent process. He claimed all the rules were followed, asserting that the information on DPA’s were published in a February 2018 report highlighting public support for a DPA process in Canada. His presentation describing the transparency of it all was deserving of a bureaucrats gold star. In reality, DPA legislation was  cleverly crafted and passed in a way where its proponents could claim “transparency” in the process, when the exact opposite was true. The public had never been asked about them, Finance Committee MPs including the Committee Chair were not aware they had been slipped into the budget bill, the Liberal-dominated Justice Committee refused to allow discussion on them and they were never debated in an open and transparent manner in Parliament. Only lobbyists and select law firms were aware of this drastic change to the criminal code—of course, that is to be expected since these were the interested parties who drafted the content that became the basis of the new law. The Deep State hustlers for a DPA were SNC-Lavalin Chairman Kevin Lynch, SNC CEO Neil Bruce and a handful of seasoned lobbyists.

SNC-Lavalin and Past Criminal Activity

SNC-Lavalin is a Montreal-based corporation which provides engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services in various industries including mining and metallurgy, oil and gas, environment and water, infrastructure and clean power. They have tens of thousands of employees worldwide, with offices and operations in over 160 countries.

In 2013, the World Bank banned SNC and its subsidiaries from any involvement in projects it finances for a decade – the longest debarment period it has ever imposed. These unprecedented sanctions followed an investigation into the alleged bribery of officials by SNC-Lavalin for projects in Bangladesh and Cambodia. The World Bank statement said, “SNC-Lavalin’s misconduct involved a conspiracy to pay bribes and misrepresentations when bidding for Bank-financed contracts.”

“This case is testimony to collective action against global corruption,” said Leonard McCarthy, World Bank Integrity Vice President. “Once we had evidence of the company’s misconduct, we referred the matter to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.” The World Bank’s action came at the same time that SNC-Lavalin was under investigation by Canadian and Swiss authorities over bribery payments in Libya and was facing a series of class-action lawsuits on other matters involving Canadian projects. In the months prior to the World Bank banning the company in 2013, its former CEO Pierre Duhaime was arrested in Montreal on charges of bribery related to the construction of a $1.3-billion hospital project in Montreal. He was found guilty on February 1, 2019 and sentenced to 20 months of house arrest after pleading guilty to a single charge in connection with the hospital fraud.

After the World Bank’s banning decision in 2013, newly placed SNC President and CEO Robert Card said, “The company’s decision to settle signals our determination as we go forward to set standards for ethics in business conduct and for good governance that are beyond reproach. The company has already taken, and will continue to take, measures to ensure rigorous compliance and control procedures are in place.” This was poppycock. SNC was still facing charges in Canada under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA) for bribes totaling over $48 million to Libyan government officials, including former dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saadi, to secure government contracts. It was discovered that part of the money SNC executives paid in bribes to Gadhafi was used to finance a booze-filled cross-country tour for him to visit prostitutes in cities across Canada. By October 2018, the case was in preliminary hearings in the courts in Canada.

Scott Brison's unexpected departure to BMO created a "need" for a Cabinet Shuffle

Desperate to avoid being held accountable for their alleged criminal activity, SNC hired Kevin Lynch, the former Clerk of the Privy Council (2006-2009), Secretary to the Cabinet, and Head of the Public Service of Canada as a director, and appointed him Vice-Chairman of SNC in May 2017. He is also the Vice-Chair of BMO Financial Group, a job he has held since leaving government in 2010. Seven months later, in December 2017, Lynch was named Chairman of SNC. He still serves on the BMO Board. Mr. Lynch is neither a contractor, engineer, nor construction worker, but he is familiar with how government works and how laws are made. Canada's former highest “public servant”—generously paid and pensioned off by taxpayers after a 33-year career—was now one of the key executives running SNC-Lavalin.

We now recognize how Scott Brison's unexpected departure to BMO precipitated the Cabinet Shuffle that ousted the uncooperative Jody Wilson-Raybould... coincidence?

Continue reading the OttawaLife article, which includes some important questions such as:

6. Why and when did lobbyists meet with the then-President of the Treasury Board, Scott Brison, in this matter? Did Kevin Lynch promise Scott Brison anything for supporting DPAs? Brison resigned from cabinet in his role as Treasury Board President in February 2019 to “spend more time with his family,” yet within weeks, he announced that he had taken a new job as vice-chair of investment and corporate banking with the Bank of Montreal. Kevin Lynch is on the Board of Directors at the Bank of Montreal.