Broken Promises – Liberals, SNC-Lavalin and Omnibus Bills

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve heard about former Attorney General Judy Wilson-Raybould and the Liberal/SNC-Lavalin scandal. The situation is embarrassing and the truth of what transpired must be brought into light in the interest of full transparency and accountability. The root of the issue is a broken Liberal promise and the bill that allowed it to happen was supported by our local MP.

                Last year the federal Liberals, along with a “yes” vote from our MP, modified the Criminal Code creating a new tool called a remediation agreement. These agreements allow companies who are guilty of an economic crime to work out an arrangement with a prosecutor to protect employees of these companies and the overall economy, while still admitting guilt. The issue at hand is Trudeau’s desire to use this new power to influence and shield SNC-Lavalin from prosecution and work out a deal through remediation with a considerably reduced consequence.

                What makes this story fascinating is that the changes to the Criminal Code were included within the 2018 Budget (pause for dramatic effect as this is entirely unrelated to the budget). This is called an Omnibus bill and was heavily criticized by the Liberal election platform as one of the biggest problems with Canadian democracy. Trudeau is on record saying, “I won’t use them, period.” Omnibus bills ensure that a bill is escalated through the House of Commons as quickly as possible without debate, hiding smaller bills into much larger and more important pieces of legislation. These bills are not tied to a singular issue; therefore Parliament doesn’t receive the same type of briefing from external experts to discuss the ramifications or impact of making such changes.  If this bill had gone through the proper channels and was not disguised within the budget, the proper parliamentary rigor would have either strengthened or fully rejected this vague law. Had the proper scrutiny been applied to the criminal code change, this legislation would have looked different with more clarity around rules.

                This violation from the Liberals could have been avoided and our MP should take accountability for breaking a promise to not use Omnibus legislation, and further for voting “yes” on the bill that allowed companies to avoid persecution. The broken promises from the Liberals led to this violation and the effort to hide the situation is not fitting of a government.

                 The Liberal/SNC-Lavalin scandal has gone on for few weeks and we have yet to hear anything from our MP about the issue. Nassim Taleb’s rule of thumb is very applicable in this situation: “if you see fraud and do not say ‘fraud’, you are a fraud.” Our MP voted against a Public Inquiry  into the Liberal/ SNC scandal and is enabling this type of action. Guelph needs a leader and someone who is strong enough to stand up against their own party and keep promises made.

Derek Matisz