Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday March 2, 2019
SNC-Lavalin and Preferential Treatment
Just when it seems that the scandal currently plaguing the federal government could not get much worse, the federal government may have another trick up its sleeve.
First, some background. The federal government’s procurement website states that “in 2015, we introduced a regime to ensure the government does business only with ethical suppliers….”
Federal procurement policies include an Integrity Regime to “help foster ethical business practices, ensure due process and uphold the public trust. It is transparent and rigorous and is consistent with best practices in Canada and abroad.”
As if attempts to secure a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) for SNC-Lavalin weren’t enough, it has been reported that the government now wants to change the Ineligibility and Suspension Policy under the Integrity Regime.
That policy sets out the circumstances in which a criminal conviction will result in an organization becoming ineligible to bid on federal contracts. The list of offences that result in ineligibility include bribery, lobbying offences, fraud, false or deceptive statements, and money laundering. The ineligibility period is five or 10 years, depending on the crime.
The proposed changes would give the government more flexibility to decide whether a ban should apply, and if so, for how long.
The federal government is determined to ensure that SCN Lavalin remains eligible to bid on federal government contracts.
The stated reason is to protect jobs. Quebec jobs, to be specific.
The unstated reason may be to protect votes in Quebec.
Why the steely determination to protect this company?
Even considering possible political motives, it still seems to defy logic.
After all, it is possible that a corporation’s unsavory conduct may contribute to its growth and stifle competition. Would it be so successful without it?
If SNC-Lavalin goes under, surely someone else will fill the void, and employees will find work elsewhere. Albeit, this may not all happen before election day.
It is perhaps finally obvious to the federal government that it will be difficult to invite SNC-Lavalin to enter a DPA.
So instead, it plans to change the criteria for awarding federal contracts.
This could prove problematic. And possibly rather expensive. (Continued: Kelowna Capital News)
Reference made to this cartoon on CBC Radio One show “The Current”, Tuesday March 4, 2019 by Jason Markusoff, Alberta correspondent for Maclean’s magazine. 7:35minute mark.