Truth to power on International Womens Day

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There are few photos of Jody Wilson Raybould from this perspective and when I finally saw this one from Macleans, it reminded me so much of the Fearless Girl statue.

Ms. Raybould is indeed taking on a behemoth not unlike this bull, one that extends beyond partisan circling of wagons around their leader. She’s exposed that the patriarchy is alive and well in Ottawa, entitlement rife in Wernicks testimony – his second btw, while the Liberal dominated committee voted down a motion to have Raybould Wilson brought back.

From the now infamous, exasperated eye rolling of Anthony Housefather in the allegedly non partisan position of Committee chair,during that vote…

( hard to find a source for this moment that isn’t using it for partisan purposes, including this guys tweet)

https://mobile.twitter.com/YianniMacris/status/1103355879611609088

..to the pompous entitlement of Wernicks testimony… to the smirks of Trudeau’s friend, Butts during his…to the same smirks of Trudeau’s odd, ‘not sorry but trying to be contrite’ press conference which reminded me so much of Clarks note ” humble” on her speaking notes way back when….

It all just left a bad taste in my mouth because I expected better than old boys club politics when I voted for Trudeau…something I won’t do again. Emerging as the voice of reason amid a flurry of reaction following yesterdays press conference was another strong woman, Elizabeth May. She saw exactly what I saw, and said so: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/media-release/2019-03-07/green-party-leader-blasts-trudeau’s-non-announcement-snc-lavalin-affair

Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) said today she was astonished by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first full statement on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. “It is clear that the effort to get SNC-Lavalin a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) continues to drive all aspects of handling the issue,” said Ms. May. “We are not in a position to look back at mistakes made. We are in the throes of an ongoing effort to get a DPA for SNC- Lavalin.”

Greens believe that the opportunity to learn lessons starts with understanding the principle of prosecutorial independence. The primary decision on whether to prosecute rests on the Director of Public Prosecutions. The DPP’s decision is based on a legal analysis of the evidence against  a corporate defendant. The Attorney General’s job is to review the DPP’s decision to ensure that the evidence and legal principles are properly applied.

“In his evidence to the justice committee yesterday, the prime minister’s former principal secretary Gerald Butts demonstrated that he did not understand this principle when he spoke dismissively of the former Attorney General’s review of ’12 days.’ That ignored the work that had already gone into the Section 13 analysis by the DPP,” said Ms. May.

“We have now moved from inappropriate pressure on the former Attorney General to a propaganda campaign preparing Canadians for the new Attorney General to do what Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to do. And we still don’t have a single independent review confirming a threat to 9,000 jobs.”

Ms. May said that Justin Trudeau still has an opportunity to restore Canadians’ trust. “In the next Cabinet shuffle, restore Jody Wilson-Raybould as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, ask Jane Philpott to take up the reins at Indigenous Services, promote the current Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Board, Joyce Murray, to President of the Treasury Board and let Seamus O’Regan go to Veterans Affairs.

“The failure to grasp the importance of prosecutorial independence and the failure to seek evidence before succumbing to job blackmail are at the heart of this scandal,” said Ms. May. “We still require an independent review of the inappropriate pressure on our former Attorney General.

Shes correct. The heart of this lies in prosecutorial independence…and in a surprise move yesterday the Public Prosecutors office asserted itself online.

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Brava. This is a critical and key point for two reasons.

1. In the charges laid against SNC Lavalin, no extenuating circumstances must be considered

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And 2.  Considering its highly unlikely SNC would pick up and leave-they have ongoing current work all over Canada-what other motivation could there be for avoiding a lengthy trial? Tom Parkin has thoughts on this:

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Indeed. The Financial Post piece he linked to details what’s really on the line with a trial, and why government might want that not to happen: https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/only-a-criminal-trial-will-reveal-whether-snc-lavalins-corruption-infected-the-government-too

Trials are designed to detail wrongdoing by government and corporate officials alike and to mete out justice in a transparent forum that the public can understand. Deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) are designed to cover up details of wrongdoing and replace jail time for corrupt government and corporate officials with fines for corporations…

…The company claims that past misdeeds can be entirely laid at the feet of a few so-called “bad apples” who have since been removed. If SNC-Lavalin were nevertheless found guilty through an exhaustive examination of witnesses and the presentation of evidence, that claim could be eviscerated — the “bad apples” in question have already said they were carrying out widely employed company practices. If so, the company not only stands to lose federal government contracts over the next 10 years, its officers stand to be incarcerated….

…But a trial here or elsewhere would not only expose who knew what and when within the firm; it would also expose who in government might have been involved.

Hmmm. Is the worry really  9000 jobs from a company with current and ongoing jobs across Canada that will keep them here? Or is the worry what will be exposed by a trial? This changes the entire perspective presented by Trudeau, by Butts and by Wernick.

And therein, lies the heart of why any pressure on Wilson Raybould or the DPP, ( also a woman) whose decision she upheld, must be examined more closely. Sandy Garossino weighs in with some excellent analysis on why this is the most important prosecution Canada has ever undertaken on corporate corruption. https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/03/08/analysis/hidden-key-snc-lavalin-scandal

This matters. There is something much bigger at stake here, the very integrity of the rule of law, our basic tenets of justice, and two women whose independent power and authority is being challenged.

That’s why, I’m #stillwithJody. The committee must bring her back, the PM must allow her to speak about the period after her shuffling and SNC must not bully their way into a deferred prosecution agreement.

Until they do, its important this brief video of her testimony is kept front and centre, keeping in mind the Financial Post piece posted above. I’ll post the transcript in the comments as well.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/powerandpolitics/key-dates-in-wilson-raybould-s-snc-lavalin-testimony-1.5040183

This has turned into a long piece but there was so much to say. And I may add to it because there’s more I need to share, but now I’m going to wrap.

To Jody Wilson Raybould, I see you. Thank you for speaking truth to power. To the DPP, Kathleen Roussel, hold the line – I think you know something we don’t.  To Elizabeth May, thank you for being one of the most diligent voices in Ottawa on many issues, including this one.

And to all women blazing paths and challenging patriarchy to the chorus of voices on both sides of your path calling you difficult, not a team player or worse yet, crazy….I see you too and honour the fortitude it takes to follow that path.

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From a friend and reader:

“After listening to those trying to discredit Ms, Wilson-Raybould I thought that by sharing two of my several personal life stories it might help others understand the kind of inter-personal  dynamics that people can face when those who simply want to  direct and not lead seek to impose their version of the right way to proceed. Party whips use this all the time and that is why proportional representation is being withheld….

….Over a life time of working on lots of different matters it is clear to me that there are always those in positions of authority who regularly abuse their privileged status by having subordinates carry full accountability for all decisions. It seems that moral issues are the most troublesome for those in charge, so when someone like Ms Wilson- Raybould seeks to do what is morally correct we need to give that person our unconditional support.”

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Why Progressives are mistaken in defending Trudeau et al.

” The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what sells.” ~ Confucious

Whoever said politics is a blood-sport, wasn’t wrong and if you’ve been a House of Cards fan you’ll know the quote: “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and casualties…”

The political arena in Canada right now is full of casualties and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it with respect to the SNC Lavalin debacle involving Trudeau and the staff that surround him. And make no mistake, this entire affair IS about Trudeau et al.. no matter how much anyone tries to convince you otherwise.

It is not about Jody Wilson-Rayboulds personality.

It is not about her being ‘difficult’,  a derogatory description often used to denigrate strong women who can’t or won’t be bullied or influenced.

It is not about her past as a lawyer. And it certainly isn’t about the opinion of any defence lawyer who worked with her in the past when she was a prosecutor who didn’t work with him the way he would have preferred.

It isn’t even about whether you like her, or her party. All of these points have come up and been used by the Conservatives of course, who are more than happy to pounce because an election is coming… but they have also been used widely by fellow progressives, including feminist women, to separate and marginalize the testimony of Jody Wilson-Raybould. It started during her testimony when her fellow Liberal MP’s, questioned her aggressively as if she were on trial and not their leaders actions.

It’s been embarrassing and shameful to watch. We just went through this here in BC when the media and BC Liberal partisans attacked Daryll Plecas. Many of the same people who decried the smears on Plecas, are now the among those attacking Wilson-Raybould. Many of the same people I have stood alongside in fighting Harpers regressive policies, and then Clarks, have been defending Trudeaus actions by saying even Wilson-Raybould had said they weren’t illegal… which, it has been pointed out, may in fact be incorrect:

https://mobile.twitter.com/INTEGRITYBC/status/1102597346276200448

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Everything is upside down…but I digress.

Seeing this defence used by a very progressive and educated woman I know recently, who literally pooh-poohed Trudeaus actions as nothing, I asked her if she would have said the same thing if it had been Clark interfering in something  serious ‘ because jobs’.

She didn’t respond…because she and I both know the truth is that she wouldn’t have excused it if it was Clark,or Harper, or any other leader so many were glad to see depart. There were many times Clarks actions in government rightfully garnered outrage and calls for resignation even though they weren’t illegal. I was there every single time, as were most of you. But turning a blind eye is a dangerous game.

That’s why, when Clark first appeared on CTV defending the Prime Minister, it should have given everyone a reality check. https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/christy-clark-says-jody-wilson-raybould-should-have-reported-any-inappropriate-pmo-pressure-1.4299629

Sigh. One would think she might only speak on the issue of unethical behavior once, but oh no, the premier that was so misguided her own party wanted her gone, came back a second time to comment. ( can you hear my eyes roll? Former SNC Lavalin director Gwyn Morgan was her transition advisor while he was still with SNC )

Paul Wells mentions her in this excellent piece today: https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/moving-the-goalposts-and-lowering-the-bar/

But why are we even getting upset, some Liberals would have us ask? This scandal is boring people to death, former B.C. premier Christy Clark opined on QP. The company didn’t even get what it wanted! The system worked! This isn’t even a vegan nothingburger it’s so nothing!

If you’re a Liberal joining the former premier in making those arguments—and I like to imagine Ben Chin, Clark’s former staffer now starring for Bill Morneau in between his bouts of pressuring the former attorney general on SNC, is—well, then, congratulations to you, I suppose. How quickly you’ve fallen. It usually takes governments 10 years to go from “real change” to “meet the new boss, way, way, way, worse than the old boss”.  Who knew the one thing the deliverology unit actually delivered on was in stripping away the consciences of those elected to the Liberal benches in 2015?

Declaring this scandal as boring or a non starter shows how out of touch she still is with the average person. Defending Trudeau or giving him a hall pass doesn’t serve anyone,least of all Progressives. It does not serve the justice system. It doesn’t serve the goal of getting big money out of politics. And it doesn’t serve the goal of keeping other leaders with regressive and divisive policies out of the PM’s chair. Let me tell you why.

While this insane ‘defend Trudeau,attack Jody’ strategy has been playing out, the Conservatives are gaining ground. Maxime Bernier and his ” We’ll fix everything” crew  are also not so quietly gaining ground in certain areas…a development that is truly alarming. My former editor from 24Hours Vancouver offered his take on this here: https://www.burnabynow.com/federal-election-2019/is-this-the-last-we-ve-seen-of-laura-lynn-in-burnaby-politics-not-likely-1.23645513

You are worried about Scheer winning the next election?Me too, so stop swallowing your discomfort in spades  to defend Trudeau when we all know what happened was wrong, regardless of whether it was legal or not. The second the coming election and votes were mentioned it was wrong. That’s political. Every move he has made has compounded the mistakes and every second this drags on the Conservatives grow stronger which puts everything progressive at risk, because no one truly can take SNC Lavalins side here.

SNC Lavalin has a long and often checkered history, particularly outside of Canada. As I detailed in depth recently, their connections to BC Liberal projects in BC is extensive and largely unexamined, and projects occurred  during the same time period as the current  corruption charges. SNC also had a lobbyist out here in BC talking to NDP mlas, Geogg Meggs and Rich Coleman about oil and gas pipeline project management while this  Trudeau pressure was happening back east. https://lailayuile.com/2019/02/13/snc-lavalin-lobbyist-met-with-bc-mlas-last-year-just-as-trials-were-underway-back-east/

I’ve said often over the years that blind partisanship no matter where it lives, will be the death of democracy.

It’s toxic. It serves no one, and it fosters a culture where leaders and their inner circle begin to feel untouchable and thus start to appear arrogant. They know that their most loyal supporters won’t say a word… ‘ because Power”.

Christy Clark learned that the hard way…and I suspect Trudeau is about to as well.

 

** update**

While writing this, Liberal Treasury Board President resigned from the LPC cabinet. Her resignation letter is posted here: https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/read-jane-philpott-s-full-resignation-letter-1.4321826

Dear Prime Minister,

It is an enormous privilege to be the Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville and to have served as Minister of Health, then Minister of Indigenous Services, then President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government. It has been an honour to play a leading role in progress that has shaped our country: bringing Syrian refugees to Canada; legislating a balanced approach to Medical Assistance in Dying; negotiating a health accord with new resources for mental health and home care; improving infrastructure for First Nations to provide clean water on reserve; and reforming child welfare to reduce the over-apprehension of Indigenous children.

However, I have been considering the events that have shaken the federal government in recent weeks and after serious reflection, I have concluded that I must resign as a member of Cabinet.

In Canada, the constitutional convention of Cabinet solidarity means, among other things, that ministers are expected to defend all Cabinet decisions. A minister must always be prepared to defend other ministers publicly, and must speak in support of the government and its policies. Given this convention and the current circumstances, it is untenable for me to continue to serve as a Cabinet minister.

Unfortunately, the evidence of efforts by politicians and/or officials to pressure the former Attorney General to intervene in the criminal case involving SNC-Lavalin, and the evidence as to the content of those efforts have raised serious concerns for me. Those concerns have been augmented by the views expressed by my constituents and other Canadians.

The solemn principles at stake are the independence and integrity of our justice system. It is a fundamental doctrine of the rule of law that our Attorney General should not be subjected to political pressure or interference regarding the exercise of her prosecutorial discretion in criminal cases. Sadly, I have lost confidence in how the government has dealt with this matter and in how it has responded to the issues raised.

It grieves me to leave a portfolio where I was at work to deliver on an important mandate. But I must abide by my core values, my ethical responsibilities and constitutional obligations. There can be a cost to acting on one’s principles, but there is a bigger cost to abandoning them.

Although I must regretfully resign from Cabinet, I will continue to serve Canadians in every other way that I can. I was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville and I intend to continue in that role. I am firmly committed to our crucial platform priorities, especially: justice for Indigenous peoples; and implementing a plan to tackle the existential threat of climate change. Canadians need the assurance that, in all matters, Members of Parliament will act in the best interests of the public. My decision has been made with that spirit and intent.

Sincerely,

The Honourable Jane Philpott MD PC MP

Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville

Call to sign a petition asking BC Hydro to voluntarily withdraw the SLAPP suit against Peace Valley residents

David Eby did a good thing this week. Nope, he didn’t call a public inquiry ( still waiting David), but he did reintroduce legislation that would ward off nuisance lawsuits filed just to shut up public debate and  peaceful protest.

The legislation “allows people to apply to have lawsuits against them dismissed if it relates to an expression on a matter of public interest.

Under the legislation the defendant can make an application to the court.

The plaintiff would then have to satisfy the court that there are grounds to believe that the lawsuit has “substantial merit” and that the applicant has “no valid defence”.

In addition, the plaintiff must show that the harm suffered by the applicant’s expression “is serious enough that the public interest in continuing the proceeding outweighs the public interest in protecting that expression”.

It’s a good thing. But it won’t help the Peace Valley residents who peacefully camped along the Peace River in subzero weather the winter of 2015/2016. 

The legislation is only retroactive until May 2018.  So the remaining defendants, all women except for one, live with a $460 million dollar lawsuit over their heads. It’s not enough several are losing their homes, their dreams and family history, BC Hydro still wants more.

This government is never going to stop this dam. Sadly, sometimes man still needs to learn things the hard way. But I still hope, like that old Stevie Nick’s song, that a landslide brings it down when crews are on a break, because only mother nature can stop this now….ironically even the CD Howe institute said recently it should still be canceled. https://www.google.ca/amp/s/biv.com/article/2019/01/cancel-site-c-build-gas-plants-wind-power-cd-howe%3famp

Usually I don’t do petitions. They rarely do anything but make people feel like they did something. Which isn’t a bad thing..unless you immediately forget about the issue.

I can’t forget about this. The fight  The dam. The valley. The beauty of it’s vast expanses and most of all its people. I think the right thing to do, in the spirit of this new legislation,is for BC Hydro to drop the SLAPP suit. Let them grieve what has been taken, and what is yet to be lost.

My friend Shelley started this petition today, wanting this insurmountable burden lifted from our friends. Her heart is big and she wants to see this happen. It’s my hope you’ll all sign and share and tag Michelle Mungall and BC Hydro with it too.

Stopping suits like this is exactly why this legislation was created. This was never about the money for BC Hydro. This was about silencing them… and if they couldn’t crush their spirit, they’d crush them with crippling debt.

Withdrawing this SLAPP suit, is the right thing to do.

 

Please sign Shelley’s petition at the link HERE: 

https://www.change.org/p/bc-ndp-demand-bc-hydro-drop-460-million-slapp-suit-against-site-c-opponents?recruiter=136639040&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_petition&recruited_by_id=5cd93fc9-f7aa-4d6b-bf89-973b57da333e&utm_content=fht-14303538-en-ca%3Av5&fbclid=IwAR2O3sHQIROpnWZZh4ZN4nv2c0X1_Nmh5lnuHtYCYxZNU_NpkxH67uYXILc

 

SNC Lavalin lobbyist met with BC MLA’s last year…just as trials were underway back east.

**updated below**

 

Long time readers know well my interest in public projects in BC, and the many complaints made by insiders in the industry about ‘ irregular bidding practices’ on many projects. I’ve followed SNC Lavalin through several projects with interest and detailed how SNC employees have gone onto work in the BC government, and how BC govt employees from the transportation ministry have gone onto work for SNC Lavalin.

Which is why, when the allegations of the PMO’s office pressuring Judy Wilson-Raybould to interfere in the SNC Lavalin case became public, my ears perked up and I did a bit of looking around to see what I could see..and sure enough SNC had been trying to drum up business here in BC while this trial played out in Quebec.

On November 1st 2018, SNC Lavalins ceo spoke to the press trying to ease concerns over the trial.

On November 14th 2018, in the midst of the trial back east, a lobbyist registered here in BC, on behalf of SNC Lavalin,  to “Arrange a series of meetings with BC Government officials and SNC Lavalin representatives to provide an understanding of the professional capabilities and expertise in the area designing, engineering, and construction of oil and gas projects.”

That lobbyist was Richard Prokopanko,  former Rio Tinto Alcan rep who made the news back in 2012 for getting a free ride on ‘Air Christy’ https://thetyee.ca/News/2012/03/02/Air-Christy/  

(Of note, although the registration was November 14th, the undertaking date for lobbying activities was posted as November 6th)

So who did Prokopanko meet with? See below.

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Now..  of course SNC Lavalin, faced with woes far and wide, is going to try and drum up some business with the new government-dear God, please don’t go down this road gain!

But considering that Rich Coleman is basically a big nothing burger in the Opposition ranks now, why did SNC Lavalin meet with him, and what did they talk about? He has no sway now…or does he?

Oh to be a fly on the wall of those meetings and I do hope an enterprising reporter does an FOI on that or at least questions what occurred and what was said…particularly at the meeting with Rich Coleman. ( Perhaps they are friends? Rich Coleman was on that Air Christy flight with Prokopanko,referenced above, too)

I hope every NDP mla will share what Propopanko wanted to sell…and if further meetings with SNC representatives occurred. After all, SNC has a long history in BC.

SNC business in BC

With the revelations in the bribery trial back east, it’s often surprised me that reporters haven’t looked harder at what work SNC has done here, just out of curiosity if nothing else.

The connection between SNC Lavalin and its subsidiaries that have been involved in BC projects was very strong and close under the BC Liberal government, and often did raise questions, most unanswered due to lack of transparency, and lack of ability for most reporters to know even what to ask.

  1. The BC Ferries, renewable contract with SNC Lavalin that the public still has no details on: https://lailayuile.com/2013/02/19/snc-lavalin-contract-with-bc-ferries-raised-questions-in-2012-so-why-is-the-public-still-in-the-dark-nearly-a-year-later/
  2. 90% of SNC’s transportation divisions activities were in BC under the Campbell era, many listed here, and many riddled with questions and controversy:  https://lailayuile.com/2012/03/04/moral-hazard-is-when-they-take-your-money-and-then-are-not-responsible-for-what-they-do-with-it-gordon-gekko/
  3. Former Premier Christy Clark chose  former SNC Chairman Gwyn Morgan as her transition adviser...while he was still chairman of SNC Lavalin….and while SNC had ongoing projects and bids with the government at the time.
  4. BC govt employees have gone onto work at SNC and SNC employees have gone to work for govt. ( this kind of thing is not uncommon in several ministries but it does raise questions of conflict and inside information. )

And I could go on for days – SNC Lavalin also manage to get the lead design for Site C, a project under fire for direct award bids that should have gone to tender instead.

 

Corruption? There ain’t no corruption going on!

One thing that I again found compelling while going through these older posts, was a link I had inserted from 2011, when Pierrie Duhaime screamed loudly that Quebec DID NOT need a corruption inquiry. He was in fact adamant about it and I knew then that there was a lot he was worried about… and it reminded me of the people opposing a public inquiry in BC right now:

“The head of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin said Monday a report on alleged corruption in Quebec’s construction industry raises “troubling” issues, but not enough to warrant a public inquiry. Pierre Duhaime said the report by former Montreal police chief Jacques Duchesneau was very broad and didn’t substantiate allegations that have shaken the industry for nearly three years.

“What is surprising is that the report touches so many areas with so few facts. It surprised me to see a report with so little substance but so many allusions,” he said after speaking to the Canadian Club of Montreal.

Duhaime didn’t want to question the author’s credibility, but said most of the information came from anonymous sources.

He said the measures taken by the Quebec government were sufficient to counter corruption.

~snip~

Premier Jean Charest has refused to call a public inquiry even though the report alleged ties among the province’s construction industry, its political parties and organized crime.

The report prepared by a Charest-appointed anti-collusion task force was leaked to media outlets last week.

It says a corrupt and weak civil service has allowed construction companies to drive up the price of public-works contracts in Quebec.

It suggests that last year alone there was a $347-million difference between original contract amounts and the final price tags.

At the end of the process, the report says, some of the companies’ profits are plowed into the coffers of political parties.

Perhaps the most explosive allegations revolve around ties between construction companies, the Mafia and criminal biker gangs.

It says the criminals act as enforcers for friendly construction companies, preventing rival firms from getting work done with threats or by pulling strings to create red tape.

Oh that outrage from Duhaime about there being no corruption didn’t age well, did it?    Because he just ” pleaded guilty to a charge of helping a public servant commit breach of trust for his role in a bribery scandal around the construction of a $1.3-billion Montreal hospital. ”

Former SNC Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleads guilty for role in hospital bribery

But wow…does that quoted article sound like BC or what? Donations. Bids. Overpriced projects….

Why does all this matter? 

Over years of research into specific public projects in BC, some of which was picked up by media outlets, I talked to a lot of industry insiders and heard a lot of allegations. Some of the people I spoke to took the time to teach me where and what to look for, and how to know what was standard business practice or something more unethical.

Some of those stories resulted in some of the most popular posts on my Best Of page, others that could not be proven by FOI ( records not found) were not written. But as we know, the last government had a strong record of not only deleting records, but of failing to document as well. ( see Rich Colemans statement ” I don’t deal in paper” )  Just because an FOI doesn’t result in records, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And like many other stories breaking now in the money laundering file, no one wanted to go on record. 

Some of what was discovered was disturbing enough that I was relieved when the Ministry of Public Safety expanded their corruption probe into Quebecs industry, to include BC… and when it was complete, I requested a copy by FOI, and it was just emailed to me immediately without having to go through the process. And like the report Pierrie Duhaime said was just a bunch of unsubstantiated stuff from anonymous sources,we know now, that those anonymous sources were right.  And I must bring this up again because any judicial inquiry in BC must not be limited to money laundering and gaming.. it must go much further.

An inquiry – which must have subpoena powers – isn’t about calling international crooks to testify- that is never going to happen. It’s about the domestic government and institutional failures that allowed this all to happen. Who. Why. When. Where and How can we prevent this from ever happening again. Journalism basics practiced on a judicial level.  And contrary to what Horgan said yesterday, it can’t all be chalked up to incompetence – he should talk to Pierre Duhaime about the consequences of willful blindness....

 

No one denied anything…because no one wanted to talk about it. 

 

I’m going to leave you with some excerpts from that Public Safety Report into corruption in construction in BC, because if I didn’t it would be a missed opportunity.  If you’ve seen it before, just go have coffee or back to work. If you haven’t, think about what happened in Quebec…and why everyone is so damn naive to think it didn’t or isn’t happening here in BC too.

Imagine that. So few of the people or organisations contacted wanted to talk about this issue of corruption in commercial construction – and by association of public sector projects, the government –  that it made it difficult to get a firm vision of what is going on. In fact, the report relied on many anonymous sources in some instances to get the information needed to make an assessment.In spite of this aura of reluctance and opposition to prying questions, the report did manage to uncover some revealing ways our public projects are at risk for corruption… and the way our government makes this possible.

~snip~

  • Investigators found that the most vulnerable aspect of the commercial construction process, including public projects, was the procurement process (bid process) and project management. Sources indicated officials responsible for procurement were often uninformed about the cost of construction project costs and the lack of accountability and transparency in the bidding process across Canada was noted.
  • Investigators found many factors that contributed to an environment where bribery and fraud flourished and were nearly impossible to detect,including the large scale of public projects,the uniqueness and complexity of projects,the concealment of some items of work by others, the lack of transparency in the industry and the extent of government involvement.
  • Situations that facilitate the formation of construction cartels and bribery, included the size of the project. Some projects like dams, power plants and highways that are extremely large in nature and costly,making it easier to hide bribes and over inflated  claims. It was also noted these larger projects often have a limited number of bidders, and those bidders are often well known to public officials and other bidders, again facilitating bribes and cartels.  ( Cartels are groups of businesses that operate together to lessen competition on jobs,often dividing projects into specific area of bidding for certain companies. It has been rumoured this is occurring on some big projects in BC, and other jurisdictions are cracking down on it, asking for whistleblowers to come forward )
  • Lack of transparency – costs are often kept secret even when public money is being spent. Commercial confidentiality takes precedent over public interest, and publication of financial information and routine inspection of books and records which could uncover irregularities or prevent them, does not take place. ( in the case of the Sea to Sky highway project, companies participating in the project had to sign confidentiality agreements preventing them from talking about their involvement in the project in some cases, for up to 7 years, as you can read in the Sea to Sky shadow toll series on the Best Of page at the top of my site – Laila)
  • The extent of government involvement– There is significant government involvement in public projects. Even private sector projects require government approval at different levels. the power wielded by government officials in every stage of the construction process,when combined with the structural and financial complexity of these projects, makes it quite easy for unscrupulous government officials to extract large bribes from those undertaking the projects.
  • The impact of corruption in projects goes beyond bribes and fraud, to poor-quality construction and low funding for maintenance. Because much of the infrastructure is hidden behind concrete or brick, builders can cut costs, bribe inspectors to approve sub-standard construction leading to poor quality construction.  ( In Quebec, years of this kind of construction on public infrastructure is creating a problem for the province, with crumbling bridges and overpasses that need extensive rehabilitation. Will we see the same thing happen here in British Columbia with some of our major transportation and infrastructure projects? Certainly many projects have already shown evidence of substandard quality, via the expansion joints on the William R Bennett bridge in Kelowna, and the ever collapsing retaining wall on Lougheed, part of the Port Mann project and more recently the sea to sky retaining walls where unapproved substandard rebar was used. – Laila)
  • Sources in British Columbia indicated that government officials responsible for the procurement process ( tender and bidding process) lack the required experience in relation to the commercial construction process. Many who did have the experience retired or moved onto the private sector. Government officials often failed to follow their own procurement policies. ( I have explored this in detail on a previous post, where a source revealed to me that often, the officials in charge of a project will rely on employees of a bidding company for direction, via hiring them as a consultant in the process. Fairness reviewers deemed with examining the bid process for fairness, are often seen as being in a perceived conflict via work with the government on other projects- Laila)

It is simply not acceptable, nor is it in the public interest, to allow often incompetent, and more often unethical business practices to continue within the B.C. government. It absolutely must stop.

In 2010, in following final ruling of the decade long Tercon vs. British Columbia court case, I said the following:

“.. What is needed is a full and independent inquiry into the actions of the government then, and now, to reveal the truth of what is going on in that portfolio. If the government intends to stand by its claim of administering an honest and open government with integrity, let it start with the Basi-Virk trial upon our doorstep, and end with the Tercon Judgement. The integrity of the entire bidding process, the future of local industry in our province, and what little faith we may have remaining in our elected officials, depends on it.”

That was 2010. As we know, the Basi-Virk trial was shut down faster than a bear trap snaps its victim, and while Vaughn Palmer picked up the Tercon story, the government denied and ignored any lingering questions.

I say now, that this report bolsters and supports my repeated calls for a full investigation  and public inquiry into the public procurement process within all ministries of the government of British Columbia, and the sooner the better.

To do anything other, is to condone corruption within government by our elected officials -a concept which should have never been tolerable in the first place.

 

UPDATE:

Two new bits of news today that will leave you shaking your head, discussion ongoing in the comments on this too:

1) SNC Lavalin & Kiewit among qualified bidders for Patullo bridge replacement

https://globalnews.ca/news/4963183/pattullo-bridge-replacement-bids/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

2) SNC Lavalin subject of  new criminal probe in bridge project.

https://business.financialpost.com/news/snc-lavalin-faces-criminal-probe-over-montreal-bridge-contract-documents-reveal/amp?__twitter_impression=true

Gee. I guess corruption trials and criminal probes dont bother the BC govt crew in the Ministry of Transportation…..