For the first time we’re beginning to learn more what exactly led up to the SNC Lavalin scandal. According to the GLobe and Mail the Liberal government was proposing a major change to the Criminal Code, one that would affect how Canada meets its international obligations to fight corporate bribery of foreign officials.
Here is an outline of what transpired.
- Ms. Wilson-Raybould questioned the effectiveness of DPAs and was concerned that they were being pushed by a powerful company with a history of legal issues, said a source with knowledge of the situation. Ms. Wilson-Raybould wanted nothing to do with the legislation and certainly did not wish to take the lead on it. This should have been a red flag for Mr. Trudeau and his team. As justice minister, she was responsible for Criminal Code changes. As attorney-general, she had the power to reject any DPA. A spokesman for Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that such assertions were “completely absurd,” telling The Globe that Criminal Code amendments cannot be introduced without the “intimate collaboration and support” of the minister of justice.
- SNC-Lavalin had influential help as it worked aggressively toward a DPA law. The public company, alongside the Business Council of Canada, drove Corporate Canada’s push for the legal tool. Inside the Liberal government, the champions of a DPA law were Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and his then-chief of staff, Elder Marques (who later, as a senior adviser in the PMO, continued to press for it), and Mr. Morneau and his team, the source said. Mathieu Bouchard, a senior Quebec adviser in the PMO, stickhandled the file. The PMO told The Globe there is nothing unusual about its staff working on any piece of government legislation.
- SNC-Lavalin did not get everything it asked for in the DPA law. The company’s submission to the government on proposed DPA legislation said that prosecutors, when deciding whether to make an agreement, should be allowed to consider such factors as the impact of a conviction on the manufacturing supply chain. Had that been the case, SNC-Lavalin’s importance to the broader Canadian economy could have been its trump card. But the law as passed explicitly bars prosecutors from considering the “national economic interest” in cases of alleged foreign bribery.