Imagine a scenario in which a major Canadian based company is facing the prospect of being seriously damaged as a result of their own wrongdoing, nearly a decade ago, in a third world country like India or Algeria, but not inside Canada or any of its notable partners. Imagine that company lobbying to admit their guilt, change management, pay massive fines in the $250M range and have a knife held to their throat for a decade to make sure they stay ethical in the future.
Now imagine a situation in which the company is prosecuted under old laws that would see the fines, management changes and them being blocked from bidding on major Canadian infrastructure projects for a decade thereby effecting thousands of high paying Canadian jobs.
Remember, the company has no wrongdoing inside Canada or any Western country for that matter.
What would happen if our politicians stood by and did nothing? What if they did not explain to the Justice minister how the job losses and political implications of such a devastating blow would be bad for Canada?
We can tell you what would happen. Citizens would scream blue bloody murder… that is what would happen. Politicians are elected to make decisions in the best short and long term interests of the country. They are not elected to stand with the hands in the pockets and say “well, that’s just the way it is”.
How impressed are you with Doug Ford’s public statements about there being no hope of keeping GM in Oshawa? That may be the case, but he could at least put on a brave face in public and try to work with General Motors and others to find a way to keep the thousands of jobs in Oshawa.
Let’s ASSUME for the purpose of this argument that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and friends pressured then Minister Jody Wilson Raybould to prosecute SNC Lavalin’s Libyan bribery case under a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) instead of the Criminal Code.
As we explained in our article What is a Deferred Prosecution Agreement in Simple Terms we see that a DPA is no ‘get out of jail free’ free. The penalties under a Deferred Prosecution Agreement are usually extreme including:
- Public admission of guilt
- Changing management
- Massive fines
If the company does not meet the terms of the DPA, the Government can and will prosecute the company; that is why is it called a DEFERRED Prosecution Agreement.
There is no-one even accusing the Prime Minister or his ministers of ‘instructing’ the Justice Minister what to do with the SNC case. Yet, because this is an election year, opposition forces have ganged up to blow this issue into a perceived scandal. That is to be expected but what is not expected is that the media seems to be happy to report the events without providing the context. It is repeatedly insinuated that:
- Senior Politicians gave instructions to the Justice Minister
- the pressure to use a DPA means that SNC would effectively avoid real prosecution
If you spend even a few minutes looking at facts and avoiding the hype of the SNC case, you can plainly see that neither are true.
It is clearly a bad idea to have politicians DIRECTING legal proceedings but is it not a good idea for our elected officials to explain the implications of options to various ministers and ministries? Is it not the role of a politician to try to see the best outcome for their constituents and the country at large?