There’s a standard old saying that no one is above the law, but it’s pretty clear with this latest discovery by Integrity BC, that SNC Lavalin feels that they are above the law.
Arrogance knows no limits when it comes to SNC Lavalin… they tried to manipulate the law, which hasn’t worked for them. Then they tried to manipulate the Prime Minister and his office, which really didn’t work out well for them. And now they take out an ad buy of the Globe and Mail opinion piece written by esteemed criminal lawyer extraordinaire, Brian Greenspan? https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-did-jody-wilson-raybould-understand-her-role-as-attorney-general/
Greenspans opinion piece is yet another in a long series of opinion pieces that read like hit jobs questioning Jody Wilson Rayboulds knowledge and skill. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think it felt like the cliche ‘yet another old white guy explaining how things work in the world to the women’. Seriously. And I also thought about what a disservice he was doing in glossing over some really serious stuff here, when another lawyer I know shot over this piece for me to read.
Bingo. “ Mansplaining to the Honourable Jody Wilson Raybould” is a must read and I sure as hell hope this gets picked up on a national level. Written by Robert Harvie, family lawyer, mediator and arbitrator, he gets right to the heart of what’s wrong with Greenspans opinion piece.
In his article, he suggests, rather strongly, that the concerns raised by Ms. Wilson-Raybould, and her supporters, reflect a “fundamental misunderstanding of the responsibilities of key participants in our justice system.” In his article he writes that to question the appropriateness of outside influences on prosecutorial discretion exhibits a serious misunderstanding about how “justice” works.
Perhaps. Or, perhaps Mr. Greenspan’s article is a bit of “mansplaining.”
I would be so bold, as someone who is only a family lawyer, to suggest he has perhaps glossed over the issue a bit. And, in my opinion, as a lawyer who has spent some time working to improve access to justice and fairness in our legal system, the larger truth is too important to ignore or dismiss.
And this is the thing about that.
Mr. Greenspan is completely correct. Prosecutors cannot live in a bubble, devoid of contact or influence by the world around them — including very direct influence by the actors involved. As Mr. Greenspan writes, “isolation breeds tyranny” and advocacy — the testing of the Crown regarding their perspective on a prosecution — is healthy and fundamentally important to assure full consideration by the Crown of all factors to be considered as they engage their duties.
But. And here’s the big “but.”
When our jails are populated by people without the means to hire someone like Brian Greenspan to assure that the Crown is challenged appropriately — particularly for example, by Indigenous people in grossly disproportionate numbers — there is a fundamental concern about the efficacy of the Rule of Law. About the reality of the theory that “all people are equal before the law.”
And it’s a growing and legitimate concern that Mr. Greenspan, with all respect, ignores completely.
It might be reasonable to ask yourself, for example, what are the odds than an impoverished Indigenous person charged with a criminal offence in this country would have the pull to cause the prime minister himself lean on the minister of justice to, in turn, to lean on the prosecution to “cut him a break.”
Or, to use Mr. Greenspan’s example, what are the odds that same individual might be able to hire Brian Greenspan himself to meet with the attorney general to consider his case?
Zero to none are those odds.
And, perhaps, Ms. Wilson-Raybould — being a woman and an Indigenous person – was somewhat sensitive to this reality.
So. It might do for some old white guys in our profession like Mr. Greenspan and myself to consider that perspective with a little more charity.
With the greatest of respect to Mr. Greenspan, he ignores, completely the growing sense of frustration of many Canadians that there often appears to be two sets of laws in this country — one for people with deep pockets or friends in high places (usually both), and one for everyone else.
Did Prime Minister Trudeau “lean” on Ms. Wilson-Raybould, or did he simply provide “perspective”? Who knows?
But the questions raised in this case are legitimate and undeniable.
Or maybe, like our former attorney general, I just don’t understand.
Brave Mr. Harvie, brava. This is exactly it. No one is above the law and the ease of which those corporation and individuals who have the money, the connections and the power to influence the law in a way you or I could not, is wrong.
( And this is where I mention Greenspans past representation in another SNC bribery case https://www.thestar.com/business/2014/04/07/accused_in_snclavalin_bribery_case_argues_canada_has_no_jurisdiction.html )
I’ve written about this SNC issue with respect to Jody Wilson Raybould several times, and I have written about SNC Lavalins activities in BC, along with former board director Gwyn Morgan, at length. Avoiding a trial on the current charges isn’t about keeping innocent employees from suffering the consequences of a few bad apples, it’s about keeping the former board of directors off the stand. It’s about not letting any further people get questioned and CBC recently ran an excellent piece getting right to that.
…There’s no question that millions of dollars in bribes were paid to the Gadhafi regime in Libya to win lucrative contracts for SNC-Lavalin.
The former head of the company’s global construction arm admitted to bribery, corruption and money laundering in 2014. He pleaded guilty in a Swiss court.
But the Quebec-based engineering firm has long insisted that Riadh Ben Aïssa was acting alone and in secret.
“The Libyan bribes were disguised by Riadh Ben Aïssa as part of normal project costs,” former board chair Gwyn Morgan told CBC News in a recent email. “There was simply no means for board members to detect them.”
Ben Aïssa has a very different story to tell. He is back in Canada after having spent more than two years in prison in Switzerland.
He has turned on his former executives and board of directors and has been co-operating with police and prosecutors.
If called to testify at an SNC-Lavalin trial, he could expose who else in the senior ranks may have known about $47.7 million in bribes and $130 million in fraud tied to projects in Libya — crimes the RCMP alleges were committed by the company between 2001 and 2011.
SNC-Lavalin has been lobbying hard behind the scenes to secure what’s called a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) to avoid going to trial. The company, as well as its supporters in government, argue thousands of jobs are at risk if it is convicted and barred from bidding on federal contracts.
But a CBC News investigation reveals why 12 top directors who left the company years ago also have plenty at stake if the case goes to trial. SNC-Lavalin’s former board is an influential who’s who of the corporate elite that includes former senators, banking executives and members of the Order of Canada. They will all likely face close — and very public — scrutiny if called to testify about whether they knew of any corruption happening on their watch…
Still think this is all about saving jobs? Or saving their own asses?
Remember: ” 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…” ( from https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/only-a-criminal-trial-will-reveal-whether-snc-lavalins-corruption-infected-the-government-too )
For too long in Canada, major corporations have been running the show with provincial and federal governments. They make big donations and when those big donations are banned, they find other ways to get the money to those politicians….something SNC Lavalin knows all about too.
…Canadians may never know the details of an elaborate scheme orchestrated by engineering giant SNC Lavalin to funnel more than $117,000 to two federal political parties after one of the key players quietly pleaded guilty a few weeks ago.
Normand Morin, the 76-year-old former vice-president of the company, took advantage of a routine court appearance in late November to plead guilty to two of five charges of contravening Canada’s election financing rules. The prosecution dropped the remaining three charges.
Morin was given 60 days to pay $2,000 in fines.
A compliance agreement signed by SNC Lavalin in 2016 refers to a system that involved “certain former senior executives” of the company. Employees were encouraged to donate to federal political parties, then were reimbursed by the company through “false refunds for personal expenses or payment of fictitious bonuses.”
Under federal election financing laws, companies are not allowed to contribute to parties or candidates. The scheme allowed SNC Lavalin to circumvent the law by making political donations indirectly through its employees.
The vast majority of the money contributed between 2004 and 2011 went to the federal Liberal Party. According to a 2016 compliance agreement with SNC Lavalin, the Liberal Party of Canada received $83,534 while various Liberal riding associations received $13,552.
Contestants in the Liberal Party’s 2006 leadership race got $12,529.
And before the Cons out there get all excited, SNC used the same scheme to donate to your party as well, so shut it.
It’s time for this government- all governments, in fact – to send SNC and companies like SNC a message that corruption won’t be tolerated. This is the law. This is beyond egregious. And this company and its former director Gwyn Morgan, have a long history with the BC Liberals and Christy Clark that has raised questions…most of which are still unanswered.
It’s time for you to demand your elected officials remember who actually votes them into, or out of, office. SNC Lavalin has no loyalty to anyone or anything but profit. Why anyone would go out of their way for them, is beyond me.
But then again, maybe like Greenspan mansplained to the attorney general , I just don’t understand how it all works either…