Friday, February 08, 2019

SNC-Lavalin: Scandal Or Much Ado About Almost Nothing?

I suppose it's the price I must pay for trying to maintain a daily blog, that yesterday I should write about how Nicholas Kristof called us the "moral leader of the free world."

And today I should be writing about this story.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office attempted to press Jody Wilson-Raybould when she was justice minister to intervene in the corruption and fraud prosecution of Montreal engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., sources say, but she refused to ask federal prosecutors to make a deal with the company that could prevent a costly trial.

If only to explain why I believe that it will probably end up being much ado about almost nothing.

For the following reasons.

(1) The suggestion that offering SNC-Lavalin a Deferred Prosecution Agreement is to be soft on crime is absurd. When a DAP is a perfectly legitimate tool in the fight against corporate wrongdoing.  

A DPA is a voluntary agreement negotiated between an accused and the responsible prosecution authority. Under a DPA, the criminal prosecution is suspended for a set period of time. During that time, the accused must comply with the terms of the agreement. If the accused complies, the charges are withdrawn when the DPA expires and no criminal conviction results. If the accused does not comply,charges may be revived at any point during the term of the DPA and a prosecution may be pursued and a conviction sought.

It is widely used in the U.S. and Britain, and in the often murky world of corporate crime has several perceived advantages.

The prospect of being invited to negotiate a DPA may motivate companies to self-disclose wrongdoing since they may otherwise have to face the prospect of a formal criminal conviction, whether as a result of a guilty plea or following a trial.

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.

Especially since although SNC-Lavalin has in the past given Canada an unenviable reputation as one of the world's most corrupt countries.

Out of the more than 250 companies year to date on the World Bank's running list of firms blacklisted from bidding on its global projects under its fraud and corruption policy, 117 are from Canada — with SNC-Lavalin and its affiliates representing 115 of those entries.

It is now reportedly back on track.   

So Trudeau had every right to ask about whether it qualified for a DPA that could save thousands of high grade jobs in this country.

(2) But whether he did or not NOTHING happened. The course of justice was not diverted. The criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin continues. 

(3) The most damning allegation that Jody Wilson-Raybould lost her job as Justice Minister because she refused to intervene in the case, may be more myth than reality.

For as Dale Smith points out that might have happened for all kinds of other reasons. 

Many people, pundits included, are suddenly treating this story as some kind of exoneration for her demotion, and ignoring the fact that there were very real reasons for why she was replaced, many of which had to do with the fact that she wasn’t managing her office competently, and she was making questionable staffing choices in her own office.

I have my own unnamed sources in the legal community who can point to her incompetence, and this is now being swept under because she’s suddenly being hailed as a hero – which is another reason why I have some suspicions about the source of this story (and why she hasn’t been in a hurry to offer any denials, only a “no comment”).

Which raises the disturbing question that Wilson-Raybould might have been so bitter, and there is no doubt she was bitter, that she made the SNC-Lavalin case, rather than her incompetence, the reason for her transfer.

So I wouldn't be surprised that her seething desire for revenge may well have made her the main source of the Globe's story.

Which would explain why she is not talking, even if it leavs this burning question hanging over her:

If she was so terribly aggrieved why didn't she RESIGN? Why is she still in the Trudeau cabinet?

(4) Unless she can pull a smoking gun out of her purse, this story is going nowhere. Especially since Andrew Scheer is the last person to advance it without any additional evidence for a very simple reason.

Scheer has lied so much, and demonized Trudeau for so long, that most Canadians will dismiss what he has to say as more of the same.

And simply tune him out.

Except in Quebec where his attack on SNC-Lavalin may be perceived as an attack on a company that Francois Legault has said needs protecting. 

And could very well cost Scheer many votes in that province, at a time when he is desperately seeking them.

I may be wrong, maybe somebody will produce that smoking gun, or somebody will come forward with new evidence.

But until then this story is mostly hot air, fanned by our shabby Con media.

And is in my opinion much ado about almost nothing...


Anonymous said...

Hi Simon, don’t forget that this was also pushed by Fife who lied about Maher Arar and never apologized for doing that. His record is sketchy at best.

Anonymous said...

You just can’t accept he isn’t the man you think he is. Jesus, he just a typical politican just as venal, corrupt and vindictive as any other. So yeah this story has most likely cost him and 1 or 2% in public support.

More to come!

Anonymous said...

If Wilson-Raybould lost her position because she wanted to take SNC-Lavalin to trial, then she's my new hero. Contrary to what the Canadian government says, DPAs are a terrible way of fighting corporate crime. Nobody buys the argument that a thief should avoid prison because it would be a hardship on his innocent family, creditors or employees. So why apply a different standard to those who hide behind a corporate veil to commit crimes?

We hold public trials in this country because justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. DPAs avoid all that. The public never finds out what was allegedly done, never finds out who did it or who they victimized. The public never finds out if the prosecution was politically motivated or if the Crown could prove its case. There is no message of deterence sent to those thinking of committing similar crimes, so corporate lawbreaking just continues. How many scandals has SNC-Lavalin managed to skip out on over the years?

DPAs are bad public policy allowing those with wealth and power to avoid accountability for wrongdoing. Wilson-Raybould should be applauded if she refused to allow one of her party's biggest donors to cut a sweetheart deal to get out of trouble.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for separating the facts from the bullshit the Media is trying to make us believe. As you say, there is a lot less to this “scandal” than meets the eye, and most Canadians couldn’t care less.

Jackie Blue said...

(5) It's being pushed by Wormtongue Consellout and probably Hamster Marshall. Wornout had a thinly-veiled humblebrag earlier about his Twitter metrics. Funny coincidence that Hamster was on a CBC primetime show that very night to talk about "strategy." The problem is the M$M is in the Cons' pocket, and that includes social media. They pick up on whatever's "trending" and amplify the noise machine until it looks like a big deal. They want to destroy what they feel they've "created" -- the Trudeau legacy -- and then sell books and TV specials telling THEIR story of the modern-day Icarus who flew too close to the spotlight. They make themselves the story. Like CNN et. al. they're trash.

(6) Fife the Knife is a hack who came from Sun News and got a Peter Principle promotion to Probe & Fail. Like all Con hacks he has a tall-poppy hate-on for Justin Trudeau. Consellout said Bob was going to drop another bombshell in today's Probe. So far, nothing but opinion articles. Including one that they neglected to mention was written by a candidate for the NDP.

(7) Another theory is that the G&M put the article behind a paywall so they could sell subscriptions based on the clickbait headline. They buried the lede that these deferred prosecution agreements are legal. The rest of the media is running with it like a relay race based on the headline alone.

(8) This isn't even really about Lavalin. Nobody knows for sure why JWR was reshuffled. There is a soap-opera internal knife-fight going on among the Liberals regarding Butts and the PMO's inner circle. But leave it to the vulture press and the Cons to pick up on that internal drama and run with it like "Trughazi." Note that a Republican pol accidentally said the quiet parts out loud on TV one day, and admitted that Benghazi was an operation to discredit and destroy Hillary Clinton. As the CPC is the GOP North, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they'd crib from the same playbook.

(9) JWR's father was yapping on some punditfest to bash Trudeau as a "fake feminist," and the prehistoric Charlie Adler cranked up his Model T Twitter machine to agree with him. Bill Wilson apparently has a longstanding grudge against Pierre Trudeau. He'll therefore jump at any opportunity to stick it to his son. As Pierre is, of course, dead, and has been dead for some 20 years, he cannot joust with Bill Wilson on Justin's behalf. So Bill is, quite literally, arguing with a ghost.

(10) If JWR herself is the anonymous leaker, then most likely she's remaining mum in public because she doesn't want to out herself as having already breached privilege. Which doesn't reflect well on her either, so best to say nothing and "plead the Fifth."

(11) This is a Con operation to weaponize the "identity politics" that they abhor unless it is useful to them. Nothing could please them more than to discredit Trudeau among feminists and Indigenous voters by portraying him as a narcissistic pretty boy who pretends to care about women and then discards them when they no longer serve his needs. Which brings us back to Consellout again, as he was the one who pushed that Gropergate bullshit and then saw it blow up in his face when he sicced his mob on the woman in question despite her own desperate pleas to be left alone. Classic projection from a wannabe "rock star."


All the sound and fury may signify nothing, except where human instinct is wont to fill in the blanks. The spin machine creates a narrative of plausible distrust. The usual suspects want to play judge, jury and executioner to character-assassinate Trudeau in the court of public opinion. Why come up with actual policies when you can just shit on the other guy as "Nixon with nice hair"?

Jackie Blue said...

He is not perfect, no one is. But I'll take an imperfect and decent human being caught up in a tangle not of his own making, over a shitposting 4chan troll who prefers backstabbing over civil policy debates and looks and acts like the devil's haunted puppet.

Your kind of thinking is what gave the U.S. Trump. If that seems like a good idea to you, then by all means relocate to some MAGA swamp state and keep your dirty tricks away from Canada.

Jackie Blue said...

IF IF IF IF IF. All good points about corporate malfeasance but we don't know the exact reason she was reshuffled. This is all the usual media JAQing off in an election year because "it would be irresponsible not to speculate." But as long as democracy exists and is tied to economics, this sort of thing will continue. Nobody blames CEOs when a factory gets closed. They blame politicians and vent their frustrations at the voting booth. If politicians want to win elections, they sometimes need to make Faustian bargains with ugly people to keep jobs in a community and keep the economy humming along. Yet there is no concrete evidence that Trudeau did or said anything that would demonstrate a quid pro quo or smoking gun. What was it Chrétien said? "A proof is a proof, and when you have a good proof, that means it's proven." Well, where's the proof?

All that said, despite conspiratorial protestations about his supposed lineage to Fidel Castro, Trudeau is not some communist revolutionary about to nationalize industries and implement central planning to prevent jobs being lost. (For some voters, that's a disappointment. But I digress.) Companies lobby, and a lot of times, those companies suck. That's not Trudeau's fault. That's the nature of the beast. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Anonymous said...

I wondered what excuses you'd come up with for your blue-eyed boy. Even speculated about it on another blog while you were writing this bullshit. Finish up there, and what do I see but another laboured excuse for Trudeau's actions. As predicted.

You're so predictable Simon. You'll excuse JT of anything, anything at all. You're like a star-struck teenybopper and cannot accept he's a venal politician like most of the rest of them. There's no other explanation for your tortured rhetoric and lame excuses for what may well turn out to be criminal behaviour. Who'd go to the wall for this sorry excuse of a front man for the rich? Except a complete acolyte.

Wake the eff up, man. Our two main parties are run by filth. The NDP has a leader who excels at being happy to be the leader and the status he imagines it brings. Doesn't leave much for real people, does it? Consider reality instead of trying to escape from it.


rumleyfips said...

Your comment that she is still in cabinet occurred to me too. J W-R could easily go to a big lawfirm where she could make a lot more money than a minister's salary but she didn't. She could easily rise to leadership in the first nations world. She could sit across the table from government lawyers in land claims cases. Instead she decided to not only stay in parliament but to stay in cabinet.

Jackie Blue said...

I wondered what excuses you'd come up with for your blue-eyed boy. Even speculated about it on another blog while you were writing this bullshit.

Mound of Sound? Disaffected Liberals? The War Room?

Finish up there, and what do I see but another laboured excuse for Trudeau's actions. As predicted.

And those "actions" would be? I think you spelled "allegations" wrong. A proof is a proof, and when you have a good proof, that means it's proven. So where's your proof? TRUGHAZI!

There's no other explanation for your tortured rhetoric and lame excuses ... Consider reality instead of trying to escape from it.

I fail to see in what universe jumping to immediate conclusions without taking the time to consider alternative analyses of legitimate, mitigating factors is "considering reality." Perhaps you have heard of something called reasonable doubt. This sounds like a Skippy line of attack, "Justin is a silver spoon spokesman, therefore he's GUILTY AS CHARGED!" Circumstantial hypotheticals and ad hominems do not a smoking gun make.

Right now the only court he's being tried in is the court of public opinion. And those who see clearly through the media bias and know what kind of sabotage the Cons are willing to resort to, have valid reasons to believe he's being railroaded.

Wake the eff up, man. Our two main parties are run by filth.

Oh, here we go again. Not even going to entertain this one.


Anonymous said...

Great comment BM. Unfortunately it will fall on deaf ears. Simon is a partisan hack. He has never criticized Trudeau and never will. He's dumber and blinder than a diehard Trump supporter and he's lost all credability.

Simon said...

Hi anon...he did some good work long ago, but now he’s just another Con fluffer who should retire as soon as possible.

Simon said...

Hi anon@1:00 you think all politicians are “venal, corrupt, and vindictive?” I pity your life must be very bleak. And I don’t think you have a clue about politics. In Quebec SNC-Lavalin employs thousands of engineers and others, and the company is naturally very popular. People are asking themselves why Scheer wants to destroy the company, so I think the idiot Scheer has just lost the next election....

Simon said...

Hi anon@1:18pm...Don’t be so ignorant. DPAs are legitimate law enforcement tools. They are as transparent as any other plea deals, and they do not rule out criminal sentences if the company doesn’t keep its part of the bargain. Please read the material I linked to in my post. I don’t have the time to educate dummies...

Simon said...

Hi anon...thank you. Trying to separate the truth from the bullshit is really exhausting. We are supposed to be a reasonably educated society but you’d never know it from some of the comments I get here. BTW do you mind recommending me for the Order of Canada? 😉

Simon said...

Hi Jackie...the Con media in Ottawa lives for these little “scandals” and it doesn’t take much to wind them up. There is absolutely no evidence that anyone in the PMO did anything wrong. As I said in my post NOTHING happened. So what is their problem? I’ve been looking at some Con pages and it’s pathetic how they think they’ve won the next election, when as I pointed above, they just lost any chance of winning more seats in Quebec, and that will doom them. So I suppose i should be grateful, I do love the sound of Cons screaming in the morning...🤪

Steve said...

No responsible goverment would see a company like SNC Laval destroyed for bribing someone 20 years ago in Libya. The punishment should fit the crime.

Simon said...

Hi “blue eyed boy?” That’s why you think I support Trudeau you dirty old homophobe. You disgust me. Trudeau is the most popular politician in Canada, do you feel that way about all his supporters? I saw your comment at Politiics and its Discontents, and it is also homophobic. Have no shame you senile oaf? What makes you think you’re so smart when in fact you’re as dumb as they come? So like the Mound of Misogyny and homophobia you plan to vote for the Greens? Don’t you realize that means splitting the vote and electing the Cons? Gawd if you lose a couple more IQ points we are going to have to water you...

Anonymous said...

Nice try, Simon. Nobody gets a plea deal without admitting guilt. Compliance with a DPA, OTOH, avoids any admission of guilt. Nobody goes to jail, there's no finding of criminal conduct to support a shareholder lawsuit, and the company stays on the government's preferred supplier list. For a company as corrupt as SNC-Lavalin, DPAs are just a cost of doing business. They keep those sweet government contracts coming and those juicy campaign contributions flowing. Crony capitalism at its finest.

Simon said...

Hi Jackie...ARGLE BARGLE FUDDLE DUDDLE bOth pArTIEs ArE tHE SaMe!!! 😹😹😹 Honestly why are Cons so DUMB? I know their fear glands take up a lot of space in their Neanderthal skulls, but that kind of stupidity is scary....

Simon said...

Hi anon@6:08...OMG. Not you too tonight. Is there a full moon? Or are you just drunk 🥴 If I’m a partisan hack what are YOU? And BTW credibility is not spelled CREDABILITY you idiot. Please try to be a better person and for god’s sake stop drinking...

Simon said...

Hi rumleyfips...I was happy when JWR was made Justice Minister. I thought it was great that an indigenous person could make laws to help our native people. But something went wrong and it had nothing to do with SNC-Lavalin. In fact what I have heard they would have fired her sooner but didn’t dare because she’s indigenous. Isn’t that ironic?

Jackie Blue said...

A legal expert appears to vindicate Trudeau on the matter of JWR remaining with the cabinet.

If these allegations are true—and I have no idea if they are or not—there’s a very good argument the attorney general and minister of justice should have resigned when they happened. ... When there’s been such interference in the attorney general’s criminal responsibilities, there’s a strong convention that he or she should resign, in the same way sometimes people talk about how the Bank of Canada governor, if he was directed to do something by the Prime Minister, would have to resign. It’s not that he’s done something wrong, it’s that the attack on the office is so egregious.

If she was pressured, tradition dictates that she'd have left by now. There's no "there" there. This is a calculated hit job on Trudeau.

Simon said...

Hi Steve...Quite right. The company has fired a lot of the bad apples and is trying to make a new start. So why should thousands of workers lose their jobs because of the actions of some crook in Libya?

Anonymous said...

Scheer wants to destroy the company? Scheer made SNC conduct illegal dealings in Libya? Scheer thinks SNC should be above the law because it employs Quebecers? Doesn’t seem so.

Would you be as supportive of SNC if it was say, an Alberta company with ties to the CPC if they were accused of the same misdeeds?

Anonymous said...

And if SNC wasn’t a plaything of Quebec would you be so forgiving?

Anonymous said...

The justice minister is a political appointment by the prime minister, normally after consultation. Both have pledged service to the public good although ultimately it is the prime minister who is responsible for the results as the Cons are so gleeful to point out on a daily basis. There is a procedural buffer between the justice minister and federal prosecutors to block any trickle down effect where political motive can overrule the carriage of justice. Based on information to date this barrier was not breached.
In the case of SNC two paths of justice were available to the justice department. The first is a criminal prosecution and trial, the second is financial penalization and probation . The non politically appointed civil servant component of the justice department decided on a criminal trial. It is entirely possible that the justice minister, her boss or other members of the PMO debated that a DPA agreement would best serve the public interest. In the final analysis there was no agreement and the required written instruction proposing a change in direction was never given. End of story unless someone can demonstrate attempted subversion of the prosecutors in the justice department. Why not just ask them? The other stuff is just political posturing with speculation on revenge motivation to really spice it up.
My first reaction is that the rot in SNC goes below the surface and they should be criminally charged but companies do not serve time and the punishment would likely destroy it. The "it" are the 5000 talented Canadian workers and investors consisting of private and government pension funds as well as any savers who might own a TSX mutual fund or ETF. The smart money will be long gone and probably back a foreign owner willing to buy the Canadian talent for pennies on the dollar. Perhaps a DPA type agreement was the best choice but we will never know as we were entertained with a circus act instead. You are right Simon ... it is a tempest in a teacup and really nothing compared to Trump and some of the crap Harper pulled off. In his case there was no barrier between the PM's office and civil servants as many discovered just how deep his tentacles reached into our democratic institutions in such a short time.

Jackie Blue said...

FYI: Warthog in his typically unhinged manner is now trying to have Gerald arrested. David Akin even picked it up and said the RCMP "might be interested." This is getting to be Kudatah levels of stupid. As stupid as those yellow vest morons who went to an RCMP detachment in some remote town out west to demand that Justin be arrested for "selling out Canada's sovereignty to Islam."

What's not stupid but is just as disgusting is the goddamn Dippers siding with the Cons again. Cullen sticking his bald bobblehead up Scheer's puckered ass. Hopefully enough of their would-be constituents see this betrayal for what it is, and they end up with a massive defection to the Liberals and fewer seats than the Rhinos in October.

Anonymous said...

The salivating, blood lust among the JT haters thinking this is a gotcha moment is reminiscent of a group of Neanderthals who've taken down a mighty beast. Alone they are useless against their quarry but together and through trickery and deception, they are able to wound him and possibly take him down.
JT's been wounded but is far from down. Facts will eventually clear this up but until then I see JWR still in JT's cabinet so if she is so bitter over being shuffled or torn over malfeasances, why in hell would she still be there?
The sad irony in all this is something like this wouldn't even register as news in the thoroughly corrupted world of Trump and it would be the same here if it were Scheer in power. Thanks for nothing, MSM.

e.a.f. said...

If it weren't the these Cons and Scheer's campaign manager being who he is, well might think about it, but right now, it comes under that type of thing where you ask a guy, when did you stop beating your wife? So Scheer suddenly wants them all to come to testify at some hearing. Right, now lets go over the Conservative history of corruption in this country. Scheer knows as it currently stands he has no chance of beating Trudeau and his Liberals in the upcoming election so they will try all sorts of things.

If the Liberals go to anything to "testify" they are innocent, its will become accuse, rinse, wash, rinse, wash. The Liberals would be stupid to appear before any such committee. They are best off to simply refuse to answer anything and dig up a little dirt on Scheer.

We currently has a bi election in Burnaby, B.C. where the new leader of the NDP is running to get a seat. suddenly there were things on line, such as a mansion with him and his wife in front announcing this was their home. Singh played it well by saying his wife wanted to know about the house also. the "ads" were taken off line. the mansion wasn't even located in Burnaby, it was in California. So how much validity would I give anything said about Trudeau and Singh? NONE from now until election time its all b.s. Just because its in some eastern newspaper doesn't make it true. they'd much prefer Scheer in office, to keep his buddy Ford company and defund governments by giving them tax breaks like Trump gave his friends and supporters. And I vote NDP.

jrkrideau said...

Canada now dominates World Bank corruption list, thanks to SNC-Lavalin

That has to be one of the more asinine headlines this week. Can we say “Clickbait” children?

Duh, if one blacklists a major company we might expect affiliates to be blacklisted. Once Shopper's Drugmart, Bombardier and a few mining companies get blacklisted perhaps we should take notice.

jrkrideau said...

companies do not serve time
Pity. I always thought that a few criminal convictions for the Board and relevant officers of the company would be nice. Pour encourager les autres?

Jackie Blue said...

This lawyer has a good take on the whole mess. Guaranteed no one will heed his call to tamper down the gladiator contest. Especially not Consellout, who has gone completely off the deep end and now wants Caroline Mulroney to investigate because "it happened on Ontario soil." I guess that means Ron Taverner should be the one to lock Gerald up in Doug's van down by the river. What an idiot.

Trudeau is being rendered automatically guilty in the court of public opinion based on conjecture, partisan opportunism, the M$M's craven drive for ratings in an election year ("But her emails!"), and really sloppy and vague semantics. Chantal Hébert is right: @Puglaas needs to answer for why she didn't resign.

If this "passive-aggressive" backstabber brings down the government over a petty professional grievance, she'll not only have ruined a good man but condemned 38 million people to the yoke of fascism. "Ask not what your country can do for you."

e.a.f. said...

yes, its works well to smear Canada right now. As some one wrote, right now G.B. is busy with Brexit, France is busy with riots, Germany is busy with succession, so its up to Canada to take up the slack when it comes to human rights, etc. so we can expect to be slagged by a whole lot of countries. Canada the most corrupt????? did they check China, Saudi Arabia, Venezula, a whole lot of countries in Africa, Russia--its run by the Russian mob and the Don is Putin. Please give me a break, Canada the most corrupt country in the world, Oh, lets have a look at Japan and how they run business with their crime families. The U.S.A. its so corrupt at state levels, it impacts even their voting in states. No Canada compared to most countries is still relatively corruption free.