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)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Muskrat Falls Contractors Political Donations to the PCs

Section 121 (2) of the Criminal Code of Canada lays out what it means to act in a  corrupt way when it comes to political parties and elections:

"Contractor subscribing to political fraud
(2) Every one commits an offence who, in order to obtain or retain a contract with the government or as a term of any such contract, whether expressed or implied, directly or indirectly subscribes or gives, or agrees to subscribe or give to any person any valuable consideration

(a) for the purpose of promoting the election of a candidate or a class or party of candidates to Parliament or the provincial legislature; or

(b) with intent to influence or affect in any way the result of an election conducted for the purpose of electing persons to serve in Parliament or the legislature of a province."

So, what does that mean? Well, essentially it says if in order to get or keep a contract with the government, whether its obvious or implied, you reward a politician or political party, you are guilty of corruption in Canada. That's a criminal offence.

So, is this happening in Newfoundland and Labrador? To start with, there are only three jurisdictions in Canada where corporate or union political donations are even legal - this province is one of them. That being said, just because it's legal to donate doesn't mean the guidelines of the criminal code don't have to be respected. That's where the grey area comes in.

The purpose of this post is to detail, to the best of my knowledge, the corporations that have received Muskrat Falls contracts since 2007, and the donations they have made to the PC Party. How they did it. Where they did it from. Just a note of interest, it's not just Canadian corruption laws that may apply here. The Bribery Act in the United Kingdom may also be applicable. You see, any company with a head office in the UK, or any company (say located in Canada or the US) that just has an office in the UK, is subject to their Bribery Act. That Act is far less stringent in qualifying what may be considered corruption. In other words, a number of these companies can be investigated for acts they are doing in Canada by the British justice system. It's not out of the question.

It is important to note that no one is guilty of anything unless they are investigated, charged and convicted. With that in mind, the contractors that have received contracts on Muskrat Falls, or the Lower Churchill in general, and made political donations to the PC Party are:

The following companies have head offices or offices in the UK and their donations:

AMEC                                                   $66,700.00

Fasken Martineau (QC)                          $45,650.00

SNC Lavalin (QC)                                 $51,025.00
(includes Spectrol Grp)

CIBC                                                     $38,270.00

TD Bank                                                $27,150.00

Gowlings (law firm)                                $17,600.00

RBC                                                      $16,250.00

Deloitte                                                 $  6,915.00

Strikeman Elliott (law firm)                    $   5,000.00

Anderson Sinclair (law firm)                  $   5,000.00

Johnson's Construction                            $ 5,000.00

The following companies have headquarters in the US:

Hatch Mott MacDonald                        $32,800.00

The following companies are primarily headquartered in this province,or elsewhere in Canada:

Pennecon                                             $60,700.00

Provincial Aerospace                           $60,700.00
(includes Provincial Airlines &
Liannu Partnership)

The Idea Factory                                 $29,000.00

G.J. Cahill & Company                        $28,200.00

Fugro Jacques (QC)                            $23,350.00

Woodward Oil Limited                        $20,000.00

H.J. O'Connell                                    $   4,500.00

Speutra Security                                 $   4,000.00
(through Spectrum Security)

These figures do not include 2013, as they are yet to be published. There may be more Muskrat Falls contractors donating at that time, and those that have donated likely donated more.

I tried to contact a number of these organizations, although not all, to get their side of this story. A number of them actually forbid donations or gifts to governments they are doing business with. Some have already been convicted of corruption offences, or are being investigated. For example, take AMEC. In 2009 it settled with the United States Department of Justice for $19,000,000.00 in kickbacks and frauds on the government involving US government federal contracts. AMEC apparently turned a leaf after that, and dropped political donations. In this filed annual report, 2011,

AMEC states:

"Our policy is not to make political donations and none
were made during 2011 (2010 – £nil)."

That is not true, however, as the company was making donations every year from 2007-2012 in this province. I attempted to get an explanation from AMEC, and I received two replies:

The first one:
 " Hi Brad, Wanted to let you know that I've just received your email from a colleague of mine in the UK and I am looking into it. Regards, Lauren."

Then this one days later:
" Hi Brad, I do not have any comment at this time. Regards, Lauren"

There is of course the well documented case of SNC Lavalin, and its political donations to political parties of all shapes and sizes, and its prosecution for bribery, etc. There was the case of the lawyer from Fasken Martineau, arrested and charged for using political donations to secure contracts in Quebec. Other s have been alleged to have participated in similar schemes:;jsessionid=45C235FCD1628DDC5F0731D1AE4DEC0F.present2.bdfm

Some companies are very upfront with these donations, while others have partners of their firms make the donations. This is particularly true of every law firm listed above. The amounts from each partner are, by coincidence, the exact same amount - but add up one way or another to a similar annual figure. It raises a number of questions. First, are these companies being lobbied for the funds by the PCs? Is there a list of companies with contracts that get hit up every year for a donation? The trend I've found is once these companies are on the PC Party's rolls they don't get off. Year after year - unless their business ends with the government. Likewise, some pop out from nowhere. Take H.J. O'Connell and Johnson's Construction. Johnson's just started donating in 2012, which just so coincided with it's Muskrat Falls work. Ditto for H.J. O'Connell. Johnson's construction is out of the UK, and H.J O'Connell is out of Quebec. Why were these two companies suddenly interested in donating to the PC Party here? The same question could be asked to any number of the companies above. Almost all of them donated exclusively to the PC Party. From all over the world, and all over the country.

Has the PC Party established a network to source out donations from contractors with government contracts? I know Terry French told the audience at the 2010 AGM, Election Readiness meeting to hit up paving companies, "cause they know where the contracts come from". It's difficult to be positive, without an investigation, but the trend seems to indicate that. Is that illegal? Well, as the law says: "whether expressed or implied". It is certanly illegal for a political party to request a donation of any kind from a contractor doing work for the government. One thing is certain, when the work dries up so do the donations. That is the trend. An investigation is required to determine the legality of this scheme.

If this upsets you, and you want to make a difference, you can confidentially report this to the Serious Fraud Office in the UK here . Make a difference. It's important to our democracy.

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