Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday December 20, 2019
After year of political turmoil, SNC-Lavalin gets most of what it wanted in plea deal
After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s failed efforts to see SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution led to him losing two key ministers, his edge in the polls and (almost) his party’s hold on government, the Quebec engineering firm at the centre of the controversy walked away today with a plea deal that looks a lot like what it asked the government for in the first place.
August 20, 2019
A judge on Thursday accepted the plea deal that a division of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. struck with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Under the agreement, the company pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud over $5,000 in relation to the company’s activities in Libya.
All other charges have been dropped.
“We are happy. The company is happy,” said SNC-Lavalin lawyer François Fontaine. “The fact that the charges are no longer pending over the head of the company is good. The uncertainty around that kind of proceeding is bad for business, is bad for the company.
“So we’re very happy that it’s now over. We are free to bid as normal. This guilty plea does not prevent construction, or any other entity of the group, to bid on public contracts.”
April 2, 2019
After SNC-Lavalin was hit with fraud and corruption charges over its actions in Libya between 2001 and 2011, officials from the Prime Minister’s Office spoke with then justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, asking her to reconsider offering the firm a deferred prosecution agreement.
Under newly passed legislation, a deferred prosecution agreement would allow the company to avoid trial providing it paid hefty fines and continued to adhere to a number of conditions for a period of time.
Had the company been convicted in court of bribing Libyan officials — including Saadi Gadhafi, son of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi — to get lucrative government contracts, it could have been blocked from competing for federal government contracts in Canada for a decade.
“I have long believed in the essential necessity of our judicial system operating as it should — based on the rule of law and prosecutorial independence, and without political interference or pressure,” Wilson-Raybould said today on Twitter.
February 9, 2019
The allegation that Trudeau improperly tried to influence the attorney general significantly depressed the prime minister’s voter support.
Trudeau defended his actions by saying that he was trying to prevent the loss of jobs in Quebec, but the damage to the prime minister’s reputation had been done — just as federal political parties were readying themselves for a fall election.
The deal SNC-Lavalin struck to avoid trial may not have been a deferred prosecution agreement, but it resulted in almost the same outcome for the company.
All other charges were dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on one charge of fraud over $5,000, plus an agreement to pay $280 million in fines and comply with a probation order for three years. (CBC)
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday March 27, 2014
Mother convinces school to cancel class trip to Marineland
The “Marineland mom” controversy highlights a dilemma for educators when it comes to class field trips.
How do schools balance the educational value of a trip with sensitivities to issues that matter to students or parents?
And in an age where parental involvement has never been greater, should a trip be cancelled if objections — or just one objection — are raised?
Stoney Creek mom Jennifer Jamieson, a woman with a passion for social activism (she bills herself on Twitter as Vegetarian Mom and an animal advocate) recently tweeted that she had convinced her 9-year-old son’s teacher to cancel a class trip to Marineland.
News of her lobbying effort provoked debate online and on talk radio shows in Hamilton and Toronto.
Comments ranged from applauding Jamieson for fighting for what she believes is right — the ethical treatment of animals — to castigating her for not keeping her boy at home and letting other kids at Mountain View Elementary take the trip.
Mixing as they do education, parental authority and, on occasion, social and cultural sensitivities, field trips are fertile ground for controversy.
A trip to Ohio by an Ottawa Catholic high school was cancelled after raising the hackles of parents upset that students were going to help register voters and meet a campaign organizer for Barack Obama — because Obama does not oppose abortion.
Parents in Massachusetts reacted with outrage when a school trip involved students reenacting scenes of slavery from the Underground Railroad.
Creating less of a stir among parents was a recent field trip in Colorado to a gun range where students shot rifles (they had been studying the American Revolution), and a lunch pit-stop for eighth-graders in Baltimore at a Hooters restaurant after they had visited a marine aquarium.
Field trips have been cancelled to other marine facilities such as Sea World in San Diego, after oppositions from parents like Jamieson.
In recent years marine parks have faced public heat for featuring captured dolphins and orca whales in their shows. The backlash has in part been enflamed by documentaries such as Blackfish and The Cove.
Jamieson told The Hamilton Spectator she also has strong feelings about exotic animals kept at African Lion Safari, and added that her intent had not been to start a feud with her son’s school. (Source: Toronto Star)
LETTERS to the EDITOR
Graeme MacKay’s cartoon about Marineland was demeaning and offensive, especially to baby boomers and our surviving Second World War veterans. Polka music of the 1950s and 1960s exemplified the robust spirit of the times and of Hamilton the Ambitious City. It exuded strength, vigour and sociability. “Work hard and dance on the weekends.” How true it was for the city’s manufacturing (steel) sector members. Some of us remember the Ticats half time shows when our Wally Mack and his polka band raised the festive spirit regardless of the game’s tally at the half time break. Actually, cruelty to humans should apply to either punk or heavy metal music, which came later in time. R.Cherrich, Stoney Creek
How typical of the Hamilton Spectator editorial cartoon to lampoon Tim Hudak’s proposed plan to create a million jobs in Ontario. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen, but at least it’s a plan to create private sector jobs.
How typical of the Spectator not to attack Kathleen Wynne and the provincial Liberals, who over the past 10 years have overseen the departure of hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs from this once great province. Not only do the Liberals not have a plan to create jobs, they don’t even have a plan to stop the ongoing bleeding. Let’s not bother to attack the Liberals for their big government, big hydro, tax-and-spend, mismanagement approach to everything. Way to go Spectator, you only seem capable of denouncing anything Conservative.
How about an editorial cartoon about Health Minister Deb Matthews reannouncement of a previously announced hospital spend in Niagara, just before they’re set to announce byelections in that area? No vote-buying or funny business going on there — yeah right!
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday October 16, 2012
Because it’s there
In 1924, asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, Englishman George Mallory is famously reputed to have answered, “Because it’s there.” A similar sentiment was likely on the lips of Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner on Sunday before he jumped out of a helium-filled balloon 39 kilometres above the Earth.
Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, died in their attempt to conquer the mountain, demonstrating, if nothing else, that extreme feats of courage and idealism can end badly. Baumgartner landed, happily and literally, with both feet on the ground.
In his descent of more than nine minutes, and before popping his chute at 4:18, he reached a speed of 1,324 kilometres per hour in free fall, or Mach 1.24, faster than the speed of sound. No person has fallen so far or so fast.
Humans have always attempted the impossible, for no better reason, it seems, than to prove it is not impossible. Escape artist Harry Houdini broke out of steel padlocks and chests buried underground in the early 20th century. Aviatrix Amelia Earhart flew by herself across the Atlantic Ocean in 1937. Just last June, the daredevil Nik Wallenda became the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
Every generation is transfixed by these feats and every generation thinks that the limits of human accomplishment — if not human foolishness — have been reached. But only one thing is certain: a new Everest will always be there. (Source: Winnipeg Free Press)
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday August 17, 2012
Everyone Loves Horrific Scenes
A former employee of an aquatic animal park has given a damning account of the horrific conditions animals were forced to endure.
Phil Demers resigned from Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario in May after 12 years as a senior trainer. He said a major reason for his departure was because the poor water conditions at the park had a catastrophic effect on the health of the seals, sea lions, walruses and dolphins.
‘The water had gotten so bad it was green, it was harming the animals, it smelled bad and it made the people who worked in this environment ill as well,’ he told the Toronto Star.
‘The chemicals we were using to try to maintain the water were really harming the animals.’ In revelations that have outraged animal right’s activists he said the he saw the dolphin’s skin was flaking off, and that they could not open their eyes.
Recalling the condition of Seal Lions Baker and Sander, he said that they could not even train them to open their eyes as ‘the damage was so extensive that when we finally saw it, it was just grotesque.’
He told how the trainers would pull the animals out of the water to dry conditions to try and alleviate the damage but said as a consequence not having access to fresh water also proved to be harmful for the animals.
‘Baker was writhing in pain, constantly shaking erratically, clutching his eyes shut,’ he said.
He explained that Sandy did not move for weeks on end and to try and gain a monetary respite from the agony, Baker would constantly put his head into a bucket of fresh water. (Source: Daily Mail)