May. 13, 2019

Conrad Black has a blind spot

Many Canadians and many people in Britain are aware of the name Conrad Black through his former newspaper business. Also, many Americans are aware of him through his interaction with their courts.

Be that as it may.

Today he writes frequently and many of his articles are carried in Canada by The National Post and online in the U.S. at The National Review. No doubt he is carried in other publications, too. And he has his own website that you can visit where many of his articles can be found. I am sure, like many others, I find many of his ideas provocative, interesting and many with which I agree.

In his most recent article May 11 in the National Post he addresses the now famous (In Canada) Mark Norman case where the Canadian Government has been forced to drop charges against the Vice Admiral about allegedly leaking important information about a Canadian Navy shipbuilding contract.

However, what interests me now is not that particular incident. Rather, in the course of discussing the Norman affair, Mr. Black tangentially references the other recent Canadian Government scandal concerning Canadian Company SNC Lavalin. Mr. Black says:

“The SNC-Lavalin affair was an attempt to save jobs in Canada and avoid over-penalization of a successful international company where there is a legal right for the justice department to choose between a fine and criminal prosecution.”

I find this characterization of the scandal to be, what shall I say, very, very wrong.

A. Over- penalization? 

It is not known what the court will decide given the Public Prosecution Service ruled court action in this case rather than a lesser prosecution agreement. Furthermore,, surely having a large corporate entity appear before the courts to answer charges of wrong doing is not over penalization, is it?

B. Successful International Company?

On what grounds is such a statement made? The World Bank has ruled that SNC Lavalin’s wholly-owned subsidiary cannot bid on contracts financed by that bank for ten years. The Chilean Government’s Mining Corporation has fired SNC Lavalin from work it was doing for that Chilean company because of delays and poor quality work. And a court case alleging wrong doing is pending on SNC Lavalin”s work in Libya.

C. Jobs?

When did the concept of jobs become a part of legitimate legal determinations in Canada. Isn’t it whether laws were broken not whether jobs were created or lost?