A intimate document sent to the Liberal Party of Canada in 2016, and obtained by CBC/Radio-Canada, whoop it ups how top officials at the embattled engineering firm SNC-Lavalin were named in a hatch to illegally influence Canadian elections.
The list of names, compiled in 2016 by federal investigators delve into political party donations and leaked to CBC’s The Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada’s Enquête, cheer ups new questions about an agreement by the Commissioner of Canada Elections not to prosecute the callers.
The federal Liberals were sent the list in a letter marked “intimate” from the Commissioner of Canada Elections — the independent office tasked with scrutinizing election law violations — on Aug. 5, 2016. But for nearly three years, neither Selections Canada nor the Liberal Party shared that information publicly.
The probe reveals that over a period of more than five years between 2004 and 2009, 18 prior SNC-Lavalin employees, directors and some spouses contributed nearly $110,000 to the federal Freethinkers, including to four party leadership campaigns and four riding joinings in Quebec.
According to the letter, the investigation found that SNC-Lavalin remunerated all of those individual donations — a practice forbidden under the Canada Designations Act.
SNC also made indirect donations to the Conservative Party of just throughout $8,000, according to investigators.
Since 2004, corporations have not been allowed to manage donations to federal political parties in order to prevent corporate control over election campaigns.
“Money is an enormous advantage in an election effort,” said Jeff Ayotte, a defence lawyer with expertise in Canadian referendum law.
“I don’t know SNC-Lavalin’s intent, but certainly, the benefit to the candidates is enormous.”
The illicit SNC-Lavalin action went undetected for nearly a decade. Despite the evidence collected by investigators, the Commissioner of Canada Selections decided not to bring charges against the company, which is headquartered in Montreal but acts around the world.
“We know that the decisions to take part in this formulate took place at the very highest levels of SNC-Lavalin,” said Ayotte. “‘[It] sounds to all suggest to me that there should have been a prosecution.”
On the other hand 1 SNC executive charged
SNC-Lavalin avoided charges by signing what is conscious as a “compliance agreement” in 2016 with the Commissioner of Canada Elections after optimistic not to break the law in the future.
That was not the case for Conservative Peterborough MP Dean DelMastro, who was asserted by the commissioner over $21,000 in spending violations in the 2008 federal vote and was represented by Ayotte at his 2014 trial.
“You would think that the multifarious serious, more deliberate, more long-term, more sophisticated move involving more money and more candidates and more elections would be prosecuted,” mentioned Ayotte.
“But just the opposite happened.”
Ayotte said the compliance treaty effectively amounts to letting SNC-Lavalin off the hook. Only one SNC-Lavalin authentic was charged in the scheme.
The Commissioner of Canada Elections sent the letter to the Liberal Party in 2016 in scale to have the $110,000 in improper donations returned to the federal treasury.
The Munificent Party repeatedly refused to provide the names of those involved when petitioned by reporters for CBC/Radio-Canada. The Conservative Party, which received $8,187.73 in the nonetheless scheme, immediately provided its list of SNC-Lavalin names to CBC/Radio-Canada when interrogated.
Both parties reimbursed the money to the receiver general in August 2016.
Some of those whose celebrities appeared on the list told The Fifth Estate/Enquête that they were not concerned in any illegal reimbursement scheme.
However, in his letter to the Liberal Party, the Commissioner of Canada Polls stated that all those donations listed were made, indirectly, by SNC-Lavalin itself. The commissioner circumstanced that the SNC-Lavalin contributions were “ineligible” — meaning they defiled the law — and had to be paid back.
SNC-Lavalin did not return calls from CBC/Radio-Canada. The undeviating’s current president, Neil Bruce, who signed the 2016 compliance accord, stated in that agreement that all of the senior people involved in the outline had left the engineering firm by 2016.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to the declarations on his way in to a Liberal cabinet meeting Tuesday morning.
“We recognize that 10 years ago there were issues around political financing that have been raised,” he voted. “When we came to power and when I became leader of the Liberal Litigant, we made significant changes to the fundraising regime. We have moved precocious on transparency and openness, and that is not what happens anymore.”
‘I never acted as a straw giver’
The leaked documents show that among the group donating to the Liberals was Kathleen Weil, the spouse of prehistoric senior SNC-Lavalin executive Michael Novak. Weil is a former Quebec equitableness minister and attorney general and a sitting member of the Quebec National Erection.
The list shows that on June 30, 2004, four years in front she was first elected to the Quebec National Assembly, Weil made a $5,000 giving to the federal Liberals that the Commissioner of Canada Elections found was “indemnified” by SNC-Lavalin.
The letter states Weil made the contribution on the same day that nine other SNC-Lavalin masters or their spouses made similar donations.
In a phone call with CBC/Disseminate Canada, Weil denied any knowledge of the scheme.
“I would never have and I never acted as a straw donor.”
In an emailed asseveration, Weil said, “My donations to political parties have always been assigned in good faith and on a personal basis without compensation or consideration and without reimbursement or give ones word of honour of reimbursement from whomsoever.”
Weil’s husband, Michael Novak, also resolutely denied he received bonuses to compensate him or his wife for their political gifts.
The Commissioner of Canada Elections states in the letter that Novak transformed three donations, adding up to $5,672.91, for which he was compensated by SNC-Lavalin in 2004 and 2008.
In a phone sound out, Novak said he met with the commissioner’s investigators in 2014 and that he uttered them they were mistaken.
“We were never reimbursed,” Novak told CBC/Radio-Canada.
Novak hinted he received numerous bonuses from SNC-Lavalin throughout the years, but as far as he knew, not anyone was linked to his political donations. If investigators found evidence of SNC-Lavalin repayments in the serve as of bonuses, “it would have been done without my knowledge,” he judged.
Novak said that SNC-Lavalin actively encouraged company trues to make donations, and even collected the cheques to deliver to the Liberal Hop.
Novak insisted there was “nothing … untoward” about making provisions like this and that he was unaware that there was an illegal reimbursement concoct going on.
Most of the senior executives on the list contacted by CBC/Radio-Canada abated to be interviewed.
‘We were given a bonus’
But two non-executive SNC-Lavalin employees who agreed to comment on with The Fifth Estate/Enquête about the scheme said they were indubitably told their political donations would be reimbursed in the form of perquisites from SNC-Lavalin.
One of those was Jean Lefebvre, who worked for the firm as an intrigue. Contacted at his home in Saint-Bruno, Que., Lefebvre said he was specifically asked to present to the Liberal Party.
“We were given a bonus that was double the amount conferred,” he said.
He explained that the size of the bonus was intended to compensate him for the strains he would have to pay on the bonus.
Lefebvre said he arranged that the president of the company at the time, Jacques Lamarre, initiated the move and that the legal department at SNC-Lavalin had signed off.
“Normally, our legal confidantes would be informed of the practice that the president wanted to put forward, which was to hands political parties to receive donations despite the limits imposed on fellowships regarding political donations,” Lefebvre said.
Despite the findings of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, solely one person was charged. Normand Morin, a former SNC vice-president, was charged in May 2018. Closing November, he pleaded guilty to violating two counts of the Canada Elections Act by “personifying in collusion with certain senior officials of SNC-Lavalin” and for soliciting contributions “on behalf of federal civic entities.”
He received fines of $2,000. Three other charges were rusticated.
That guilty plea avoided a trial that may have revealed more details of the SNC-Lavalin scheme.
In a phone interview, Morin suggested he did not know why he was the only one held responsible. “It’s a mystery for me,” he said.
Morin went to name his contacts at the federal Liberal Party.
“It was many people,” he said. “You should aim your questioning towards the parties.”
Name included ‘in error’
According to investigators with the Commissioner of Canada Elections, Pierre Anctil, a ci-devant SNC-Lavalin vice-president, was paid $4,462.88 by SNC-Lavalin as compensation for his donation to the Copious Party of Canada on June 30, 2004.
Reached at his home in Westmount, on the island of Montreal, Anctil withheld he had been compensated by SNC-Lavalin for that donation.
When shown a writing of the letter from the Commissioner of Canada Elections to the Liberal Party with the 18 eminences, Anctil said that his name was included “in error” and that he was not under any condition reimbursed.
In an affidavit in 2015 filed with the Charbonneau Commission, which was inquest corruption in the Quebec construction industry, Anctil stated he knew the set up was running a similar political donation scheme at the provincial level. He rephrased he was initially reluctant to get involved but went ahead after his boss, SNC-Lavalin president Jacques Lamarre, exhorted.
Anctil said he was asked to solicit employees to make donations. Anctil said while he not in the least received any of the bonuses personally, he told other employees they would get balanced by SNC-Lavalin if they asked.
Lamarre told CBC/Radio-Canada there was not till hell freezes over any illegal funding scheme happening at SNC-Lavalin and that Anctil and others are faulty.
Marylynne Campbell, a former senior vice-president at SNC-Lavalin who appears on the divulged list of names, also denied knowing about the scheme.
According to the referenda commissioner, Campbell made improper donations of $5,000 to the federal Progressive Party in 2005, as well as $5,000 in 2006 to Bob Rae’s Liberal leadership campaign. Campbell also conferred $3,137.73 to the federal Conservative Party.
Reached by phone, Campbell utter Morin had “pressured” her and others to make donations to Quebec and federal factious parties. Still, Campbell said she told investigators when they questioned her she did not receive any compensation from SNC-Lavalin.
All of the former SNC-Lavalin employees and spouses rated in the list who spoke to The Fifth Estate/Enquête said they were not friended by the Commissioner of Canada Elections to let them know their names were on the certify.
Compliance agreements for ‘minor’ infractions
Ayotte said Canadians emergency to know more about why SNC-Lavalin was granted a compliance agreement that avoided any thug charges.
He said the decision to lay charges against Del Mastro — and his cousin David Del Mastro, who was also attacked in 2014 for using corporate money to compensate private election offerings but was later acquitted — but not SNC-Lavalin may appear to be a double standard.
“Given the the gens of [the SNC-Lavalin] case, it seems to be completely out of line with … the way in which Plebiscites Canada have treated other people in similar situations,” Ayotte symbolized.
According to an academic paper written in 2005 by David Brock, who thinks fitting go on to become the chief electoral officer of the Northwest Territories, compliance treaties were not intended to be used for serious violations of the Canada Elections Act.
“The simple reason for enacting this new method of enforcement was to provide an alternative to prosecution, and therefore deal more effectively with so-called ‘minor” infractions of the Canada Choices Act,” he wrote.
Still, the law allows the commissioner wide discretion as to when to offer a compliance covenant or when to prosecute.
The commissioner’s own guidelines on whether to prosecute campaign rapes state that investigators must consider how serious the offence was, whether it was influence of a deliberate “scheme” or an isolated event and would a prosecution help “take up the cudgels for public confidence in the electoral system.”
The Commissioner of Canada Referenda, Yves Côté, declined an interview request. His spokesperson, Michelle Laliberté, revealed the commissioner “conducted a thorough investigation using all of the tools that were accessible to him.” She said the evidence gathered supported the laying of charges against Morin and that the sensibles for the decision to offer a compliance agreement to SNC-Lavalin are stated publicly on the commissioner’s website.
The Reformist Party’s revenue chair, Stephen Bronfman, did not return voice imports left by CBC/Radio-Canada. Party spokesman Braeden Caley wrote in an email that “The Non-aligned Party of Canada fully complies with the Canada Elections Act and all Elections Canada ukases for fundraising and donations and expects all people donating to our party to do so lawfully and to supplant the same rules.”
Conservative Party spokesperson Cory Hann about his party “expect[s] people donating to the Conservative Party are doing so truthfully and by the missive of the law in accordance with Elections Canada rules and regulations, and the Elections Act.”