Martyn Brown: Justin Trudeau’s ignoble fall from grace is SNC-Lavalin’s living nightmare

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      I woke with a start from a lurid dream. It was just my vivid Liberal imagination running away with me once again.

      In that REM state of suspended disbelief, I had conjured up those grisly video images of Muammar Gaddafi’s final moments on Earth.

      I replayed the graphic cellphone images of the late Libyan dictator’s bloodied and battered body being hauled out of his hidey hole—a dirty drainage pipe that I somehow imagined had been engineered by SNC-Lavalin.

      In my dream I was transfixed by the shocking footage of his torment and humiliation—of his brutal capture and rough justice at the hands of the crazed crowd and his angry abusers.

      Only in my distorted “version of events” it was all somehow happening in Ottawa, by some culvert flowing out of the Rideau Canal.

      And worst of all, somehow, in place of the face of the real-life madman that was, I had inserted Justin Trudeau’s tortured image, bewildered by the bleak reality of what was transpiring.

      Which in my dream, ended with him baffling the onlookers with a few yoga moves that made them all clap with approval and hoist him up on a pedestal. Whereupon, he invited his party faithful to celebrate his renewal and cleansing with so many selfies.

      Terrifying, I know. Totally unconscionable even, as Trudeau might  say.

      And not remotely fair to Canada’s prime minister, whose own dictatorial tendencies, as shown by his heavy-handed treatment of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, are not at all analogous to, or evocative of, Gaddafi’s truly heinous reign of terror.

      Trudeau may be authoritarian, but he is certainly no Muammar, in any sense. And he’s mostly a gentle soul whose greatest danger is to himself.

      Indeed, he is still undeniably a rock star in the eyes of most people in the Western world. Especially compared to Donald Trump.

      But nightmares are like that.

      They often piece together bits of reality with absurdist imagery grounded in detached events, to suggest a story so horrific and so shocking it is enough to drench us in cold sweat.

      Relief comes when we awake to realize that none of it ever happened; that it was all a ridiculous figment of fantasy grounded only in our latent fears and apprehension.

      Still, the dream haunted me, even in my waking hours.

      I just couldn’t shake the thought of how the entire LavScam scandal has produced Trudeau’s ignoble fall from grace and how a leader who once seemed so right, to so many, could go so horribly wrong. For real.

      All for the sake of saving one company from its living nightmare. Namely, of having to face its day in court on bribery and fraud charges for its alleged activities in securing contracts from Gaddafi’s government, back in the 2000s.

      Gaddafi demonstrated that he didn't behave like other world leaders during a memorable speech to the UN General Assembly in 2009.
      UN video screen shots

      Gaddafi nationalized oil industry 

      It was enough to make me consult Wikipedia about Gaddafi’s rise and fall. 

      It is easy to forget that the “Colonel” was once also a handsome rake. He came to power during the era of Trudeaumania in a revolutionary coup that promised an end to the Senussi monarchy’s oppressive rule and corruption. 

      Who knew that he was once lauded in his homeland as a progressive force for women’s rights?

      Who knew that he was once the author of his own Green Book—a champion for a new Third International Theory of quasi-socialism?

      Who remembers that he nationalized the Libyan oil industry before he landed in so much goo attempting to privatize it?

      Although I seriously doubt that he inspired Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s penchant for nationalization with Petro-Can, let alone his son’s nationalization of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which he claims he only did to ultimately privatize.

      Anyway, absolute power, as they say, corrupts absolutely. And Gadaffi got his just desserts in the Arab Spring of 2011 that effectively marked the beginning of SNC-Lavalin’s current legal issues in respect of its conduct in Libya.

      Hence my subconscious connection of those two distinct events and actors, no doubt.

      Two years before SNC was charged in Canada for the crimes that the director of public prosecutions alleges it committed in the 2000s—which Jody Wilson-Raybould was also convinced should be pursued in court—the “old” SNC-Lavalin was also brought to rough justice by the World Bank

      As we all know, SNC-Lavalin Inc. and over 100 affiliates were debarred for up to 10 years from bidding on any World Bank–financed projects for its misconduct in relation to the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project in Bangladesh and another Bank-financed project.

      As it turned out, that was just the tip of the dirty iceberg that the company’s current president and CEO now assures us is all now so much dirty water long-passed under the bridge.

      SNC-Lavalin played a major role in the rehabilitation of the Matala Dam in Angola, with technical fees allegedly financed by Canadian taxpayers.
      SNC-Lavalin Angola

      New allegations surface against company

      I won’t cite chapter and verse about those other incidents or the massive ethical clean-up efforts that SNC-Lavalin took to address its past wrongs since 2013.

      But suffice it to say, Trudeau is dreaming in Technicolour if he thinks booting JWR and Philpott out of caucus will end his LavScam troubles. 

      It won’t, as should be obvious from CBC’s new report today (April 3) involving allegations from an anonymous "insider". (None of these new allegations have been proven in court.)

      “The insider alleges that, prior to 2012—when the head of SNC-Lavalin's construction division was arrested in Switzerland for bribery in Libya—EDC was funding numerous projects that featured ‘slush funds’," CBC News reported. “In 2013, CBC News and the Globe and Mail exposed a similar scheme inside SNC-Lavalin. Some budgets included items called ‘project consultancy costs’ or ‘PCCs.’ The code was used to mask secret payments for projects in Africa, India, Cambodia and Kazakhstan.

      “SNC-Lavalin admitted to CBC News those PCC payments were ‘improper,’ and in 2015, paid a $1.5-million penalty to resolve allegations it bribed public officials to win road projects in Uganda and Mozambique that were funded by the African Development Bank.”

      The reporter, Dave Seglins, noted that Export Development Canada "has hired outside legal counsel to review some of its dealings with SNC-Lavalin”, in particular financing for so-callled "technical fees" paid in connection with a project in Angola.

      Imagine that. 

      This is the company that Trudeau felt so strongly should be spared from a criminal trial that he saw fit to strong-arm Jody Wilson-Raybould with the full power of his office.

      This is the company that Trudeau determined to save at all cost. As JWR testified, using no end of veiled threats and inappropriate political overtures to pressure her into granting it a deal. One that might prove to be worth billions in future federal government contracts, by guaranteeing its eligibility to bid on federal projects.

      How far Justin Trudeau has slipped from his holier-than-thou moral pedestal.

      How wrong his social revolution has gone.

      As Bob Dylan once sang, “Now I've always been the kind of person that doesn't like to trespass, but sometimes you just find yourself over the line.”

      Such is the self-rationalization of any good tin-pot dictator with too much power in his ethically compromised hands. 

      Sadly, Trudeau hasn’t quite reached the point of being able to admit to himself that he ever crossed any lines in his handling of this sorry affair.

      In his distorted assessment, he did nothing that even warrants an apology. All that he did, directed, commissioned and covered up was done in the name of his higher authority.

      From trying to bully Puglaas into wrongly politically intervening in a criminal prosecution, to firing her as attorney general after she refused to bow to his will.

      From denouncing the Globe & Mail’s story as “completely false”, to his false propaganda aimed at masking his deeds and at justifying his wrongdoings.

      From his minions disparaging JWR and Philpott with fabrications, smears, and innuendo, to banishing them into exile for having the temerity to speak truth to power. 

      His shell game is not hard to crack.

      He hopes to distract us from the inappropriate if not illegal overtures that prompted JWR to tape his top lieutenant, by trying to denigrate her “unconscionable act” as the real unpardonable sin, instead of all that astounding recording revealed. 

      In her media interviews the day after their ejection from caucus, Wilson-Raybould masterfully flipped Trudeau’s flop-assault on its own silly head.

      What was really unconscionable, she rightly said, was his unforgivable attempts to interfere with the independent administration of justice. A sin that he only hopes to hide by lashing out at those who only hope to fully expose it and urge his apology.

      Did I mention he did that without even so much as a vote of his caucus, apparently in violation of the law that requires a vote to be taken and recorded in such situations?

      Regardless, this sad chapter in Canadian history is still being written.

      We haven’t yet scratched the surface of its broader truth.

      What other issues may have caused JWR and DPP Kathleen Roussel such consternation about granting SNC-Lavalin its desired deal?

      Perhaps it is that truth that Trudeau either knows of or suspects that wakes him at 3 a.m.

      We may never know what was in that “Section 13” report from the latter to the former. Which JWR told Trudeau’s privy council clerk Michael Wernick was also given to the prime minister’s office back in September.

      Did it address any of the issues raised in today’s (April 3) CBC report?

      Did it or any other advice rendered specifically address any other concerns or ongoing investigations into SNC-Lavalin’s past shady dealings? 

      Mum’s the word.

      Ousted Liberal MPs defend their actions 

      Trudeau won’t release JWR and Philpott from their legal impediments to share their whole truth. His lead actors in the drama have all clammed up as instructed, aided and abetted by the PM’s loyal and frightened army.

      Supreme rulers don’t like hearing what they don’t want to know. 

      Especially if it challenges their authority when they are “in that kind of mood” and when they are “gonna find a way to get it done one way or another”. 

      No, Canada, our LavScam nightmare is not over. Not by a long shot. 

      It won’t be, in my judgement, until the RCMP finally steps in—as I again predict it will, if it hasn’t already unbenownst to us all. 

      As today’s Globe and Mail reported, “The B.C. MP [Wilson-Raybould] said she stands by her testimony to the justice committee on Feb. 27 that she does not believe anything illegal took place in the PMO’s efforts to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial, but said there maybe other evidence should the RCMP decide to investigate."

      “I have provided all the relevant information that I have. What I said in my committee testimony is still accurate, but I don’t know what other information potentially could be out there and what other individuals may have to say,” she said. “As to an RCMP police investigation, that is entirely up to the RCMP to look at and hear what they have heard and determine for themselves.”

      Until then, we can all sleep so much easier knowing that there are incredibly honourable public servants like JWR and Philpott who are willing to put everything on the line to separate Canada from places like Libya, where democracy doesn’t come so cheap.

      “What I can say is that I hold my head high & that I can look myself in the mirror knowing I did what I was required to do and what needed to be done based on principles & values that must always transcend party”, Puglaas wrote.

      “I have no regrets. I spoke the truth as I will continue to do.”

      “Indeed, the need has never been greater for a measured re-evaluation of how the government should respond to this issue. What I have heard from Canadians is that they want to know the truth,” Philpott said in her statement.

      Hear, hear.

      Their truth will not be silenced, as the young "Daughters of the Vote" so powerfully demonstrated today in their visit to parliament in cheering Puglaas and Philpott.

      Many of them also turned their back on Trudeau to protest his despotic and anti-feminist treatment of his former female caucus colleagues.

      The whole sordid truth about LavScam won’t be contained in its sewer pipe for much longer.

      It exists to be found.

      Despite the terror now in Justin Trudeau’s eyes, that tells me his time is done.

      A guy can dream, can’t he?

      Let us all be grateful that we live in a country and democracy where we decide our own collective destiny with ballots and not bullets.

      A parliamentary democracy where no ruler governs through a Revolutionary Command Council or through the “divine right of kings”, but is always answerable to the people and to the rule of law.

      Martyn Brown was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s long-serving chief of staff, the top strategic adviser to three provincial party leaders, and a former deputy minister of tourism, trade, and investment. He also served as the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in 2001, 2005, and 2009, and in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact him via email at