SNC-Lavalin to the rescue



The Brockville Railway Tunnel has a new and unexpected saviour. 

SNC-Lavalin, the firm at the heart of the biggest scandal to hit the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has agreed to spend up to a billion dollars in small community infrastructure projects, a form of charitable donation that will get it off the hook legally.

And one of those projects will be Brockville’s popular railway tunnel.

In Brockville’s case, however, the embattled engineering firm is going a step further. I have obtained this morning a secretly recorded phone conversation between Brockville Mayor Jason Baker and an SNC-Lavalin executive, in which Baker forcefully convinces the firm not only to build Phase Two of the Brockville Railway Tunnel, but to take on its $2.1 million debt as well.

As you may know, SNC-Lavalin is facing corruption-related charges, and former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s decision not to grant the company a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) is at the heart of what some have been calling “Lavgate” and "Lavscam."

We have learned that, while on vacation recently, outgoing  clerk of the privy council Michael Wernick devised a new legal scheme, known as a Community Regeneration Arbitration Plan (CRAP), in which large-scale donations for community regeneration projects across Canada can count, in legal terms, as community service, in effect a pre-emptive sentence before the charges are brought to trial.

Federal officials, including current Justice Minister David Lametti, are on board with the plan, and Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP Michael Barrett, while officially taking the Conservative Party position that SNC-Lavalin should not “get off easy,” secretly lobbied hard to get the Brockville Railway Tunnel included on the list of CRAP-funded projects.

Mayor Baker, however, took it a step further.

I am in receipt of a .wav file containing a conversation between Baker and SCN’s newly-appointed Director of CRAP Allocations, in which Baker convinces the latter to take on the tunnel’s debt as well.

A transcript of the entire conversation will appear in The Recorder and Times, as soon as I can get the file to stop seizing up partway and giving me that blessed Spinning Wheel of Constant Delay.

So far, here’s what I’ve got:

“BAKER: What did you say your name is again?

LOOF: Loof, Lirpa Loof.

BAKER: Really?

LOOF: Yeah, yeah I know. So what can I do for you?

BAKER: Well, I see you’ve taken on the Brockville Railway Tunnel project as part of your  

LOOF: Yes! The Tunnel! Let me tell you, our people here are really excited about building the tunnel. We’ve done lots of tunnels before, especially in Libya, where… um… well in Libya we built the most above-board, perfectly legal and legitimate tunnels in the world!

BAKER: Look, look, it’s not another tunnel we need, just some remediation at the north portal, some fixing up of a green swamp –

LOOF: Swamps! We do swamps too! Lots of swamps! The best swamps!

BAKER: Ok, Ok… Listen, I was just wondering if you might consider, you know, along with swamp remediation and maybe a roundhouse restaurant and all that, maybe buying up the debentures we’re using to cover the $2.1 million we racked up doing the first phase.

LOOF: I am sorry but we do not take on debt. That is strict policy.

BAKER: Sure, sure, I know. I understand. But what if you called it ‘Municipal Investment’ and just threw it in with the regular CRAP?

LOOF: Maybe, maybe… I mean… You know in Libya we had something similar –

BAKER: There you go!

LOOF: But in Libya they know how to keep these things sec I mean, you know, discreet. Legally and transparently discreet.

BAKER: I know all about transparency in government. And in the interests of transparency I could ask the folks here at city hall to defer, indefinitely, any announcement about this financial arrangement.

LOOF: Defer! Yes defer!

BAKER: That would be no problem.

LOOF: Well, well, OK then. The cheque is in the mail…”