With the SNC-Lavalin scandal, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. The interpersonal drama. The dates. The evolving timeline, based on who recorded what, and who forgot when.

It’s as good as political theatre gets in Canada.

Amid the din of the details, a critical fact has been buried: the SNC-Lavalin affair is business as usual in Canada. Pro-business policies have long been the norm. It just happens to be that this time, Canadians get to see behind the curtain.

In 1998, French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu wrote The Essence of Neoliberalism, in which he argues that in order for free market capitalism to reign, the collective structures within a national state that impede free market logic must be weakened or destroyed. Therefore, public policies that aid corporations to maximize profits are relied on more and more, and markets are, either slowly or quickly, deregulated.

His essay identifies that with globalization came incredible capital mobility. Corporations no longer needed to be loyal and tethered to a single location, and instead could move where market forces were more favourable to maximize profits. Anything that gets in the way of this: unions, taxes or government policy, becomes the enemy of the free market, and must therefore be eroded.

I returned to this essay this week to help me understand what happened to Canada’s feminist movement, and was struck by the parallels between Bourdieu’s analysis and the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

While the prime minister prefers that we understand the scandal as a 'he-said, she-said', SNC-Lavalin is relying on the same tropes that Bourdieu identified to save it from being prosecuted. The power that corporations in Canada hold is incredible, and they often advocate for policies that gut the welfare state while making it sound like they really care about protecting Canadian jobs.

Risk of job losses overstated

At issue in this scandal is the Liberal’s new policy tool called a deferred prosecution agreement. It allows SNC-Lavalin to avoid prosecution for corruption, and make amends for their alleged corruption in an alternative way.

The 'he said-she said' of the SNC-Lavalin affair is a distraction from the real issue, @nolore writes: corporations in Canada have far too much political power, and clearly, rare is the politician who is willing to stand up to that power.

There have been only two arguments offered by the Prime Minister’s Office for why SNC-Lavalin should be offered a deferred prosecution agreement. One is that if prosecuted, SNC-Lavalin might move its corporate headquarters to London. This would be a blow to Montreal. The second argument is related: with that move, 9,000 jobs would vanish.

The 9,000 jobs figure comes, probably, from SNC-Lavalin itself. In a news conference held on Thursday morning, Justin Trudeau said that the 9,000 jobs figure came from “various sources” including the company. Canadians should be highly skeptical of a job-loss figure that comes from SNC-Lavalin; they have no reason not to inflate the economic impact of their move. Trudeau, his former principal secretary Gerald Butts, and clerk of the Privy Council Office, Michael Wernick, all parroted this line. Jody Wilson-Raybould and her former departmental staff disagreed that these factors were enough to offer a deferred prosecution agreement.

The opposition has poked holes in this logic. Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre pointed out that SNC-Lavalin had an agreement with Quebec’s pension fund, Caisse de dépôt et placement, that would make moving their offices impossible. They also pressed witnesses who appeared before the House of Commons justice committee where the 9,000 jobs figure came from, and none of the witnesses could deliver a reasonable reply.

On Oct. 10, an SNC-Lavalin media release informed shareholders that the Public Prosecution Services of Canada would not negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin. On October 11, SNC-Lavalin’s stock fell from $51.85 to $44.36. Four days later, Wernick took a call from the chair of the board of SNC-Lavalin, Kevin Lynch, who asked if anything could be done about this decision, according to Wernick’s testimony.

Lynch was the clerk of the privy council from 2006 to 2009.

Facing prosecution, SNC-Lavalin could be barred from bidding on federal contracts in Canada. They are currently involved in dozens of infrastructure projects worth billions.

More corporate welfare means less for social safety net

Trudeau wants Canadians to decide which side of the story to believe. He and Butts have consistently argued that people can experience the same thing in different ways, and that’s true. But this frame is a distraction from the real issue: corporations in Canada have far too much political power, and clearly, rare is the politician who is willing to stand up to that power.

SNC-Lavalin is a leader in global corruption indices, and it’s easy to single them out. They’re the extreme version of a far more mundane problem. Tax money is bled out to corporations all the time: Bombardier received billions; General Motors received billions; Kinder Morgan received billions. Giving corporations the funds that they say they need is how Canada does business. Every billion that fills shareholders’ pockets is taken from our social safety net. One billion to a company means one billion less to fund a national childcare program, for example.

In addition to direct financial transfers, policy also helps to boost corporate rule. Governments regularly introduce corporate-friendly policies to try to encourage corporations to stay in Canada and, as they would say, “create jobs.” In 2009, Canada’s corporate tax rate was 31 per cent. Last year, it was 26.5 per cent. While the biggest cuts in the tax rate were made by the Conservatives, its low level was maintained by the Liberals. Corporate profits increase, public coffers are emptier.

It was the Liberals who brought in the deferred prosecution framework, passed as part of an omnibus budget bill implemented in June 2018, and the case of SNC-Lavalin is its first test. If some Liberals were hoping that it would be used in cases like the one involving SNC-Lavalin, clearly there was never consensus reached within the caucus.

Bourdieu warned about these free market-friendly changes more than 20 years ago. They threaten our democratic power, and they’re systemic. Trudeau likely, honestly, believes that nothing inappropriate happened in how they dealt with Wilson-Raybould. Because in Canada, bowing to corporate pressure is the norm. Standing up to corporate power is the exception.

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Indeed, since the SNC court case has been in the mill for a couple of years, one might wonder if the deferred prosecution framework was actually written in anticipation of the case eventually going to court, and being dealt with in this way. This kind strategic planning is definitely a possibility as those involved considered all of the options that might play out.

Much happens behind the scenes. It does now as it always has.

Firstly, the world is full of cases where companies have bribed contract countries awarding contracts. I would almost say it is de rigeur for some. Western countries do not like to make this too public but it happens. Why? Well companies want to make money and governments appreciate the jobs it brings even if they don't like corruption. At least western democracies have in the main laws against this behaviour - including Canada, So there have been all kinds of ways attempted through third parties to get around those laws. It is the nature of the world I am afraid.

Secondly. So SNC was caught and they threaten economic impacts if the company is charged. No government in a democratic country of any stripe wants to see job losses as job losses upset electors. It is we the public who put this imperative on all governments. Witness the recent reaction to GM closing plants in Ontario or oil companies laying off workers in Alberta.
Is it any wonder that especially in an election year our current government wants to find a way to stop any more job losses - yet try to do that within the law? So change the law to allow wiggle room and generate legislation allowing the DPA. Maybe not specially for SNC but for all cases where this can happen. Other countries have done the same for identical reasons.

Thirdly. The DPP decided that SNC would not have a DPA. Concernin the government of course rises. Hand wringing starts. Concern spreads to the Minister of Justice who is now in a bind. Politicians must not interfere with the Justice system. The MOJ is a politician and thus must not interfere. However, JWR would see that as a politician there are issues here for the government. Then she is also the Attorney General and as a lawyer she can interfere according to the law as AG. Was she pressured? Well what would anyone think with split loyalties like this. She comes don on the safe side and decides not to interfere - quite rightly I would say - but what other solution is there for the government?

And so we have this whole affair. The government is looking for a way to prevent SNC being punished by not having the right to compete for federal contracts for economic and electoral reasons. The AG does not want to interfere in a legal process.

I am not sure what any other government would do faced with this dichotomy but clearly what has happened is so far correct in that no DPA has been granted despite the pressure. The fall out has unfortunately severely damaged the Liberals, Trudeau personally and their election prospects possibly.

Yet I don't doubt, if the DPA had been granted there may not have been much fuss over that outcome although it was in my opinion the wrong decision.
Such is the case with media exposure and the incompetence of the government to manage their messaging. Everyone loves a scandal and cover-ups most of all.

Is it my imagination, or are you trying to explain this affair in terms of business as usual, while totally ignoring, or perhaps not understanding, the significance of the reference to the French thinker Bourdieu?

The 1998 book THE ESSENCE OF NEOLIBERALISM tried to warn us of the inevitable interplay of corporate welfare, corporate captured governments, loss of tax revenue for needed social programs like a Child Care Program...(which according to Quebec studies, actually brings in money to public coffers. even at the low rate of $7/child/day)...and the erosion of democracy/rise of corrupt crony capitalism.

That is the issue we need to focus on, because our conservative governments continue to propose failed policies, the very policies that got us to where we are today. Cut corporate taxes.......ya right, give them more money..........let them police their own activities (NEB, AER), and then let's get the public wound up about paying taxes....and about the rising government debt keeping schools and hospitals alive. We can afford to buy a 65 year old pipeline, but universal child care, or a pharma care program simply function as election promises indefinitely deferred. We can't afford those frills!!

Corporations surely could run those public institutions better than the public..and then no one would have to pay taxes, right? And jobs (non-union, minimum wage) would blossom everywhere.

These are some of the kool-aid flavours of neo-liberalism......itself a euphemism for good old fashioned Italian fascism.........and we've been sucking them up for too long, to the detriment of our health and social welfare.

We need to critique the failed doctrine of free markets and enslaved people....capital flight and wealth creation.........and put on our actual thinking hats and come up with something better. All neoliberalism has actually succeeded in doing in the last 30 years is raise CO2 emissions through the roof........and if that's wealth creation.........or in your analysis.........how its always been......my education has misled me.

And as for those wealth creators....as an educated woman and mother, I despise them. Parasites on a dying planet, for the most part, they produce little of lasting value. I'm with Jody Wilson-Raybould, and I know why.

Oh. It's the nature of the world. Why didn't someone just say so so I can stop worrying and love the corruption. It works fine!!!

The real challenge in all this is one of how to change workplace culture in Canada for the better. Under Bruce Neil and Robert G. Card, and their respective management teams, SNC-Lavalin Inc. have made important progress. Bruce Neil and Robert G. Card are in no way to blame for what has been happening, for reasons that everybody knows or should know. As they both say - absolutely correctly - the whole mess has its origin in the actions of others who left the company years before Bruce Neil, Robert G. Card and their respective management teams, even arrived at SNC-Lavalin Inc. there. But SNC-Lavalin Inc. still need to do more. There is clearly no "perfect" solution to the dilemma that the situation involving SNC-Lavalin Inc. and the P.M.O. represents. Under these conditions, a compromise solution is necessary. I can propose one which, to some degree at least, will be a "win" for everybody involved. And to do that, I need to appear before the Commons Ethics Committee or the Justice Committee, or both. I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANY NONSENSE FROM ANYBODY ABOUT WHAT "....CAN'T BE DONE BECAUSE OF THE LEGISLATION...", or some such, or because of some stupid and irrelevant little rule about protocol , procedure, or any excuse about what "...can't be done..." because there just HAPPENS to be no standard procedures or standard rules that can be applied to getting such a solution. This is a complex and multi-faceted problem requiring a multi-disciplinary approach. Its solution clearly requires the setting of a precedent. Among other things, any such compromise requires a solution - TO MY PERSONAL SATISFACTION - to expunge certain corruption in the past that the company directed at me personally and then contrived to cover up. As if people in general didn't know already, I'm referring to THIS:-


I repeat: don't ANYBODY even think about trying to tell ME what "...can't be done...".

"Pro-business policies have long been the norm"? I'm shocked.

It sickens me that hardly any of the facts presented in this op-ed are being reported by the CBC or other mainstream media. Another blatant example of the reach of corporte power in Canada.

Trump wasn't completely off his rocker when he coined the term fake news.........ours is more filtered than fake, but yes. Even the CBC is to some extent, in the corporate pocket.

And how about the blatant lies concerning the situation in Venezuela, never mind the alacrity with which our liberal (?) government jumped into the Lima Group? They must think we're all sawed off at the eyebrows to accept a selfie sworn in pop up as the legit president, and the guy who garnered roughly 67% of the popular vote in a Canadian monitored election in May a dictator!!! But that is what they've been selling us for a few weeks now.

Time for a revolution? Or have we left it too late?

Trump was right? Like a broken clock is right twice a day, maybe. You make it sound like he deserves credit for outing main stream media, when he actually wants to make the news go completely away. Like that's an improvement!?

Hear, hear! And as I've already said elsewhere - more than once - here's something else involving SNC that also needs looking at:-


Yes, Liberals are brought up to believe that you have to acknowledge the law but that you have to fudge things so that the law does not make a mess of the status quo of neoliberalism.

With models like northern Europe working better than our own, what is the reason for resisting the idea that the rich don't take all the cream - the only thing they can really do with extra billions is lobbying for control of society, like eg the Kochs. Oh wait.....

I could not agree more!

Even when it’s happening right in front of us, people don't see it. When Marc Garneau announced yesterday that the 48 Boeing 737 Max 8s in operation in Canada will remain in service, the mechanics of regulatory capture and government for corporate interests were out in the open for all to see. Simple prudence would dictate that those planes be grounded pending an investigation. Instead, Canadians have to rely on other countries to close their airspace to the aircraft.

Quote: "Even when it’s happening right in front of us, people don't see it."

Either that, or else people REFUSE to see it and act on it when you bring it to their attention, notwithstanding any supporting documentation that you make available for all to see.

That refusal seems to me to happen for one of more of several distinct reasons: (a) "no time", or lack of resources, amid other pressing commitments, (b) it involves "inconvenient" facts and truths that will "upset" mainstream news media owners, (c) concerns about not appearing to be "politically correct", and (d) concerns about retaliatory action from those responsible, in the form of SLAPP lawsuits or other tactics calculated to force the spending of time and energy and MONEY THAT YOU DON'T HAVE on lawyers to fight off the stupidity. All aided and abetted by popular misinformation, disinformation, popular (but misinformed) social prejudices and popular attitudes towards "whistleblowers" who report corporate wrongdoing. All the foregoing applies to my own story about SNC-Lavalin Inc. - and at this point I STILL see no end to it, 36 YEARS after the trouble all started with my wrongful dismissal back in July 1982. WHO is willing and able to prove me wrong - to MY OWN satisfaction?

So, Commons Ethics Committee enquiry into the SNC-Lavalin Inc. / P.M.O. affair blocked, for now at least. This is STUPID. And for all I know at this point, it might even have happened because somebody told the M.P.'s responsible that I too want to go before this Committee to tell them some things they need to know about SNC-Lavalin Inc. . I'm speculating, of course, but the whole thing STINKS "to high heaven". I'm going to be VERY clear about this: SOMEBODY doesn't want the truth about MY own fully-documented report concerning SNC-Lavalin Inc. to come out. If THIS latest development concerning the SNC-Lavalin Inc. / P.M.O. affair is actually a "hidden" attempt to suppress the information then I'm not the slightest bit impressed. EVERYBODY PLEASE INSIST, through your M.P.'s and anyone else important, that the Commons Ethics Committee proceed with its important work. We can't allow little rules of procedure, protocol and misguided ideas around "political correctness" to prevent Canadians from knowing the truth, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.

Reference: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-new-day-brings-new-mixe...


"BUSINESS FILTH AS USUAL" would be a more appropriate label. "National Observer" Editor Linda Solomon Wood said earlier this year (or was it late 2018 - I can't quite remember!) that this could be the "year of the whistleblower". For everybody's sake, we MUST MAKE 2019 THE YEAR OF THE WHISTLEBLOWER. WITHOUT DELAY.

Anybody want to argue? Let's get on with it !!

Robert T. Chisholm
Associate Member, OSPE.

Reference: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/06/22/news/uk-tribunal-slams-rbc-f...

"Slowly but surely, the whistleblowing revolution is gaining momentum. 2018 may well be the year of the whistleblower."

Actually, it was "National Observer" reporter Farah Khalique who said this, back in June 2018, and not Editor Linda Solomon Wood. My apologies for any confusion caused!

So, anyway, who wants to argue with ME about this "whistleblower" issue, and on WHAT BASIS? THAT is the question!

I would also remind people about Linden MacIntyre, ex co-host of the CBC's "Fifth Estate" program, and his October 31st 2013 online article: "Why Whistleblowers are Crucial for Democracy". So why are Canadians in general still ignoring or dismissing what Canada's own experts have to say about Canada's own problems? Because they are acting STUPID - as if "...all is well, thank you!..." - and are really interested only in being comfortable within their own little cliques. How ABSURD can you get? ENOUGH!!

And anybody who is generally well-read about Canada's problems, and what Canada's own experts have to say about them, will recall John Ralston Saul's 2008 Book,

"A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada".

Quote from page 310: "We cannot afford to waste lives or be lazy and sloppy".

So perhaps the problem with Canadians in general is simply one where they are being "lazy and sloppy" - as opposed to "...acting STUPID..." - with the exception of people like Linden MacIntyre, John Ralston Saul, Evan Vokes, Sylvie Therrien, Evan Vokes, Allan Cutler, Col. Pat Stogran and others whom I can name. And of course the "National Observer" and all the people working for it. Anyone want to argue? It's all documented - so as far as I'm concerned, THERE IS NO DISPUTING what I've just said.

I just got a copy of Pierre Elliot Trudeau's 1993 book, "MEMOIRS". Among many others, there is a particularly important passage starting on p. 186 containing the following:-

"Where is the justice in a country in which an individual has the freedom to be totally fulfilled, BUT WHERE INEQUALITY DENIES HIM OR HER THE MEANS?"

The same question applies to the issue of mainstream news media ignoring or dismissing important information from myself and certain others, because we don't happen to "...KNOW SOMEBODY..." and because the mainstream news media "just happen" to find the facts "inconvenient" - so in Canada we currently have a "social construct" that contrives to cover everything up, and then exploits the coverups to punish people like myself and others FOR BEING RIGHT, and then exploiting the situation further by pretending that we don't know what we are talking about so as to create endless muddle and confusion for the purpose of being "able" to label us as "troublemakers", "anarchists" and all the rest of it, so as to prevent solutions to known problems - or alternatively to break us all down by turning us into imbeciles so as to "justify" applying that label to us. It's all snobbery based on money - supported by dirty office politics, popular disinformation, willfully-blind bureaucrats and corrupt lawyers - all hell-bent on maintaining the status quo for their own exclusive benefit.

The type of phenomenon that I referred to in my previous post is known as "gaslighting".

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting


"Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim's belief.[1][2] "

I'm sorry, but any and all Canadians who believe in this type of behaviour at the expense of myself and others are just "sucking up" to their own little office cliques and their little social cliques at the expense of everybody else.

There is an additional dimension to it: willfull ignorance, backed by peer support for it within those little cliques.