Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Benefit of the Doubt - Penashue

So the inevitable finally happened and Peter Penashue fell on his sword - resigning last week as both Minister and Member of Parliament. His faithful campaign manager, dutifully appointed to a plum post as director on the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB), followed suit and resigned his plum appointment. It appears to be an attempt to pre-empt the release by Elections Canada of its report into electoral fraud involving the Penashue's election as member for Labrador. Of course, we have all heard him blame the fiasco on a well-meaning, but inexperienced campaign manager. However, do the facts really back that claim?

To start with there is the story from Aboriginal Peoples Television Network(ATPN). They broke the story of the many inter-linked business interests of Peter Penashue's family surrounding Muskrat Falls, and senior executives of Pennecon Limited . A sort of "common-law" marriage if you will.

Then there is Mr. Reginald Bowers - the "inexperienced but well meaning" campaign manager/business manager of Mr. Penashue's electoral endeavour. Bower may be many things, but inexperienced is not one of them. His CV includes a Bachelor of Commerce degree, a senior accountant for David G Curtis and Co., a comptroller for Woodward Group of Companies, and VP of Finance and Administration for Fahey Group of Companies. Not exactly someone with no ability when it comes to finances if you get my drift. When it comes to connections the Masonic Order is the place to be for many, and Bowers founded the Masonic Lodge #17 in Happy Valley Goose Bay. He was big when it came to the provincial PC's as well. According to his official bio, Bowers has been a director of the Lake Melville area PC Association since the early 1990's. He even pulled off a double term as a director on the Board of the College of the North Atlantic (a plum provincial political appointment), along with Gilbert Bennett of Nalcor Energy.

A quick look at the PC donors to the last provincial campaign in Lake Melville district reveals an almost completely corporate dependent campaign. A number of those donors are people that Bowers would have been involved with in one way or another - including Provincial Airlines. It would seem that the provincial PC machine in Lake Melville decided to get behind Penashue for his bid to go to Ottawa, and everyone fell into line.

Then in October, 2012 the CBC broke the story that Penashue's flights throughout the election had been illegally subsidized by Provincial Airlines. Then, the CBC wrote a story that:

" Six executives of Pennecon made donations to Penashue's 2011 campaign in the riding of Labrador, with the donations arriving just after he had been elected, according to Elections Canada records.

Chairman Ches Penney made a donation of $1,100, the same amount donated by several others at the company. Two donated $550 each. The limit for a personal donation during the 2011 campaign was $1,100."

Remember those late arriving donations.

The Innu Development Limited Corporation, run by Penashue's brother-in-law Paul Rich, chipped in a $25,000.00 interest free loan - which is illegal. In addition, CBC News calculated Penashue had overspent his campaign limit by about 21 per cent. Now Elections Canada has said there were a total of 28 unlawful donations. I use the words unlawful, and illegal, because the donations were in violation of the law - the Elections Act. Now Penashue is blaming Bowers, and Bowers is claiming ignorance. But are these excuses credible? No, they are not.


From the Huffington Post, July 24, 2012:
" Bowers wrote that he checked all expenses with Conservative Party advisers and Elections Canada "and somewhere I got the understanding that all travel within the riding was considered personal expense and not governed by the cap on expenses."


From the CBC, November 29, 2012:
" In a statement, Penashue's office said that his campaign staff had a full understanding of the rules.

"The minister was very clear during his campaign that no corporate donations would be accepted, and that donations to his campaign were to be personal donations made by individuals," the statement said.

Although the story is changing now to one of ignorance of the rules, it is clear from Bower's and Penashue's earlier statements to the press, when the story first broke, that they were both fully aware of the rules, and that corporate donations were not to be accepted. Given that, it is impossible for both to have signed the return not being aware that corporate gifts in kind were illegal and corporate donations were illegal.

It is also apparent that a cover up of those expenses was attempted. In particular, it is now known that a deposit slip from Pennecon was recorded by the campaign in the same amount that its executives were retroactively given receipts for. In other words, it appears the campaign attempted to whitewash the donation by Pennecon by issuing receipts to its executives. It is also worth questioning why Pennecon or its executives did not question receiving receipts for donations they did not make, or made and did not get a receipt for making.

The waters are murky with questions, but one that isn't in doubt is that everybody knew the rules, and some made deliberate attempts to circumvent them. No doubt the effort to get Penashue elected was of paramount concern to some people/corporations, but why? That will come out in the wash as they say, but here is an interesting nugget for you to chew on in the meantime.


INNU/SNC-Lavalin Partnership
Innu Mikun Airlines
In February of 2008, SNC-Lavalin Inc. (SLI) entered into an agreement with Innu Development Limited Partnership (IDLP) to establish Innu/SLI Partnership, the purpose of which is to pursue engineering and project management opportunities for projects taking place on Innu lands and other areas of Labrador. Other business ventures jointly pursued include procurement, construction management services, power generation/transmission, industrial process, environmental services and architectural design. The intent of the relationship is to maximize benefits to the Innu People resulting from these projects. The partnership maintains and operates an office and related support infrastructure in Goose Bay.


Innu SNC Lavalin Inc.

Map data ©2013 Google - Terms of Use

Box 119
A0P 1M0
Contact(s): Brian Corbin
Mobile: 709-897-7601
Albert Williams
General partner:
BAE .Newplan Group Ltd.
1133 Topsoil Road,
Mount Pearl, NL A1N-5G2
Phone: 709-368-0118
Fax: 709-368-5410
Contact: Albert Williams

P/O Box 449,
Sheshatshiu, NL A0P 1M0
Phone: 709-497-3670
Fax: 709-497-3677

Core business:
  1. Project management
  2. Engineering Services


Exhibit Title Prepared by Dat

CE-15 Rev.1 (Public)

Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Project, MF 1010 – Review of

Variants SNC Lavalin March 2008

CE-16 Rev.1 (Public)

Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Project, MF 1050 – Spillway

Design Review SNC Lavalin December 2007

CE-18 (Public)

Muskrat Falls Hydroelectric Project, MF 1250 – Numerical

Modeling of Muskrat Falls Structures SNC Lavalin May 2008

CE-19 (Public)

MF 1300 – Muskrat Falls 2010 Site Investigation, Volume

1 SNC Lavalin June 2011

CE-20 Rev.1 (Public)
MF 1310 – Muskrat Falls Site Access Review SNC Lavalin February 2011


In other words, while Penashue was busy negotiating the New Dawn Agreement on "behalf of the Innu people of Labrador" his organization already negotiated a side deal with SNC Lavalin who, at the time, were primary contractors in the development of the Lower Churchill, and had a business relationship with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, Penashue was in so many conflicts of interest it's hard to keep track of them all. Given SNC Lavalin's current international, and national disgrace over corporate corruption, and given the many links between it and the Innu, there are reasons for serious questions to be asked. However, the bottom line is Penashue negotiated and signed an agreement (the New Dawn Agreement) that cleared the way for members of his family, if not himself, to be greatly enriched - especially including the Impacts and Benefits Agreement.

Is Penashue an innocent victim of an incompetant manager? Does an innocent person place themselves in these types of conflicts? Do they try and cover them up when exposed by the media? Are they innocent if they admit they knew the rules and then broke them for their obvious benefit? There is nothing innocent about this story. It's an all too familiar politics. Should there be further investigations into the role of the Innu Nation, and its subsidiaries? Without a doubt. Were the Innu people of Labrador betrayed by the interests of their elite? That question could be answered in a full, and over due RCMP investigation of the operations of the Innu Nation, and most certainly its subsidiaries. For now it's just a question. Does Peter Penashue deserve the benefit of the doubt? Absolutely not. 
 Here is the complete list of original donors to Penashue's campaign. Thank you to those that provided it.
First List Submitted

Modified List (the scratched out are names ruled to be illegal and for which Penashue's campaign reimbursed the feds)


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