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)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Were the Innu bribed for the Muskrat Falls Vote?

The Innu communities of Labrador, Sheshatsui and Natuashish, are tight communities. Understanding what is taking place, or has taken place there is difficult at best. With a total population of 2245 people according to the 2011 census, everybody knows everybody and large families dominate the political and economic life in the communities. Therefore, getting accurate information of what is happening there is almost impossible for outsiders. This article is made possible by a number of Innu who have broken that code of silence and taken me into their confidence - for that I'm thankful to them as we should all be.

In the early 1980's Peter Penashue and two other people Incorporated a body politic now called the "Innu Nation". Essentially, the Innu Nation's purpose was to act as a quasi-government for the Innu people, because without a finalized land claim the two communities could only represent themselves and not the overall interests of the Innu in Labrador. The first real major financial victory for the Innu Nation came with the Voisey's Bay Agreement.

The Innu had tried to stop it until they had a land claim in place, but the courts ruled it could proceed and an impacts and benefits agreement was put in place. As part of that agreement the Innu would receive quarterly royalty payments from the provincial government of 5% of Vale's Voisey Bay sales and $59 million for the Teshipitakan Fund (T-Fund). The T-Fund was created soley as a fund for future generations (ie: the Innu children). As of February 4, 2011 the fund had grown to $66 million. Revenues from Voisey's Bay are split 3 ways: 50% to the T Fund (Innu Nation); 25% to the Sheshatsui Community Fund; and 25% to the Natuashish Community Fund.

The trustees of the fund, members from each Innu community and the Innu Nation, have been trying to gain access to the children's trust for some time. Minutes of their meetings show a determined effort by Paul Rich, brother-in-law of Peter Penashue, to take $25 million from the fund to build houses. The money was to be split evenly between the communities. He had no support but managed to have the trustees lawyers give an opinion. The only way to pull money from the trust was to prove a "man-made disaster" had occurred. He tried to have the housing issue put in that context. The issue was so divisive the trustees were read the Trust's mission statement, and they reviewed their trustee's Oath of Office. The trustees were cautioned by the manager to remove their "biases (personal and political)". They were reminded that the principal of the Trust could not be touched in any case.

On February 7, 2011, Paul Rich motioned the idea of getting a loan for the money and using the Trust as collateral. It was agreed that this course would be explored. It was also agreed the Bank of Montreal, the representative of the Trust, would look into the matter. On February 14, 2011 Paul Rich put forward a motion to lend the $25 million from the Trust. During discussions the concern of money being used for payouts to community members rather than housing was brought up. The motion was defeated 4-2 in a recorded vote.

During the May 10, 2011 meeting it was discussed and agreed to that public meetings would be held in each community in the middle of June - just weeks before the referendum on the New Dawn Agreement. On May 26, 2011 it was agreed the meetings would be held in the first week of June with expenses for planes, halls, and lunches to be funded. Then, during a Trust meeting on June 3, 2011, just days before the meeting were to take place, they were cancelled.

This is were it gets very interesting. On July 6, 2011, less than a week after the New Dawn vote, the trustees held a teleconference. The issue again was money, but this time it was different. The following motion, the only apparent topic on the agenda, was made:

" Paul Rich made the following motion: The Trust hereby agrees to apply for a loan for approximately $12,500,000 from the Bank of Montreal to provide a per capita payout of $5,000 to each member of the Innu Nation. It was seconded by Mary Jane Edmonds. BMO Trust Company, the corporate trustee, abstained from voting because of the conflict of interest with the application for a loan from the Bank of Montreal.  All other trustees voted in favour and the motion was carried."

So, less than a week after the Innu voted 88% in favour of the New Dawn Agreement, a $5,000 payment was authorized to every man, woman, and child - motioned by non other than Peter Penashue's brother-in-law. There are a few points to digest on this. Firstly, there was discussion during the meeting to have $5,000 payments for children placed in trust - that was summarily ignored in the motion. Secondly, and quite shockingly so, no reason was given for the payout in the minutes anywhere. Thirdly, the average annual income of the Innu people, according to last available census data, is approximately $12,000. Now consider the following facts:


population 1,314
0-4      200
5-9      130
10-14  150
15-19  115

total children 695 or 53% of the population


population 931
0-4      145
5-9      125
10-14  90
15-19  100

total children 460 or 49% of the population

Based on this census data, $6,775,000 of the $15,000,000 would go to children - or their parents on their behalf. To put that in perspective for some, the following are family sizes in:


2 people  100
3 people  95
4 people  60
5 people  80


2 people  65
3 people  60
4 people  50
5 people  55

Keeping in mind the average ANNUAL income in both communities is less than $12,000 per year, many families and individuals were about to hit the jackpot. For example, families with 5 people living in a household looked to receive $25,000.

On July 8, 2011, a formal meeting of the trustees was held. It was announced at that meeting that the Bank of Montreal had approved the loan for $12,500,000 for the $5,000 payout to each Innu. The bank, however, said it would take some time to process the loan. Paul Rich then motioned:

"Paul Rich made the following motion: To advance money from the Teshipitakan Fund to provide money for the per capita payout, and the money advanced from the Fund will be replaced once the loan money is available. The motion was seconded by Gregory Rich. BMO Trust Company, the corporate trustee, abstained from voting because of the conflict of interest with the application for a loan from the Bank of Montreal.  All other trustees present voted in favour and the motion was carried. The trustees were advised that tomorrow is the earliest the funds could be advanced. Janet will discuss with Lorraine Rich and Karen Penunsi about how much money to hold back. Only the amount that we are paying out will be sent to the band office."

In a somewhat incredible twist of events, a sum of $25,000,000 for housing was changed to a sum of $12,500,000 for individual $5,000 payments, days after the New Dawn was successfully approved by referendum, and motioned by Paul Rich - Peter Penashue's brother-in-law. The Peter behind the Muskrat Falls dam as it were. Interestingly, if you do the math, $5000 multiplied by 2245 people comes out to $11,225,000 leaving $775,000 left over. It appears that the early concerns of some trustees that this housing money would be used for personal payouts was warranted after all. It was noted in the minutes that once a major loan was drawn using the children's trust as collateral no other loan could be made in a similar fashion. So, after the New Dawn payout was made the housing crisis was to remain a housing crisis. The sudden reward for voting in favour of the New Dawn, or so it would appear, and the sudden rush to get the money into the hands of the Innu, robbed the future trustees of any ability to leverage that fund for any other purpose. As an aside, the trustees are currently trying to amend the terms of the trust so they can gain access directly to its funds.

The questions that now surround the New Dawn Agreement, which was necessary for the Muskrat Falls project to proceed, are many. Most seem to centre on what happened during the referendum to approve the New Dawn Agreement. It is illegal to offer a reward or bribe to people for voting in favour of a particular thing. It appears quite obvious this $5,000 per person payment was a big reward for some of the poorest people in Canada. There has been many stories of voting money and alcohol bribes to get the Innu to vote in favour of the New Dawn Agreement. In the end though, without sworn affidavits from the Innu themselves, these remain just stories. However, the $5000 per person payments just days after the vote, and sudden in its conception, leads to the inevitable conclusion that these funds were either a reward or a promise of reward fulfilled. That is my take on it. I have also been advised the RCMP were provided with all the documentation surrounding this issue a year ago, but have done nothing in the way of an investigation or forensic audit. If bribery or reward was used on some of the poorest people in the country to push forward the Muskrat Falls dam project, well, that is just unjustifiable in a country that we think we understand. Surely our provincial government knew these payments had taken place. It goes against our laws, our core beliefs, and everything we believe in as a people.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pomerleau Construction donation to Danny Williams

Conflict of interest is not just a phrase - it's a crime. It's a crime for a reason. In 2007 the Canadian government amended the Criminal Code in order to implement the United Nations Convention Against Corruption There are also provisions in the Criminal Code for just straight old conflict of interest Finally there is the provincial conflict of interest legislation Please remember these.

February, 2007, Pomerleau Construction of Quebec was awarded the contract to build the 236 bed long-term care facility in Corner Brook. It came in with a low bid of $48 million. A competing Newfoundland firm, Olympic Construction, questioned how the contract was rewarded. Olympic's President said he believed the companies were given different specifications, and he suspected Pomerleau may have been able to alter its bid to become the lowest. Then Transportation and Works Minister John Hickey said the same tender package was used by all bidders, and there was nothing untoward about the project being awarded to Pomerleau. Then Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender, and Board of Trade President Mark Baldwin agreed. The project started running into trouble almost immediately when Pomerleau brought in 4 carpenters from Quebec, and the local trades union protested.

Then in September, 2007 Danny Williams called an election for October 6, 2007. This is where the topic of this blog starts. Williams accepted a political donation to his campaign of $5,000.00 from Pomerleau Construction. Pomerleau did not donate to any other candidate in the election. Pomerleau did not donate to any candidate in the previous elections, or as an annual contributor to any person/party in Newfoundland and Labrador. Pomerleau never donated again in Newfoundland and Labrador politics except $750 to the PC Party in 2008. So what do you call a one-time substantial political donation made to a sitting premier whose government just gave you a $48 million contract? Most would instantly see it as a reward. I would say it falls in that category.

Does that make it illegal? Here's what those links above have to say about that:


Accepting extra benefits
7. (1) A public office holder shall not, directly or indirectly, accept a fee, gift or personal benefit, except compensation authorized by law, that is connected, directly or indirectly, with the performance of his or her duties.
"121 (1) Every one commits an offence who:
a) directly or indirectly
(i) gives, offers or agrees to give or offer to an official or to any member of his family, or to any one for the benefit of an official, or
(ii) being an official, demands, accepts or offers or agrees to accept from any person for himself or another person, a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for cooperation, assistance, exercise of influence or an act or omission in connection with
(iii) the transaction of business with or any matter of business relating to the government, or

b) having dealings of any kind with the government, pays a commission or reward to or confers an advantage or benefit of any kind on an employee or official of the government with which he deals, or to any member of his family, or to any one for the benefit of the employee or official, with respect to those dealings, unless he has the consent in writing of the head of the branch of government with which he deals, the proof of which lies on him;

c) being an official or employee of the government, demands, accepts or offers or agrees to accept from a person who has dealings with the government a commission, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind directly or indirectly, by himself or through a member of his family or through any one for his benefit, unless he has the consent in writing of the head of the branch of government that employs him or of which he is an official, the proof of which lies on him;

119. (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years who
  • (a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, directly or indirectly, corruptly accepts, obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for themselves or another person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by them in their official capacity, or
  • (b) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives or offers to a person mentioned in paragraph (a), or to anyone for the benefit of that person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by that person in their official capacity.
The law seems very clear. It is illegal to accept money from a company that is doing business with your government. Yet Williams did, but he was not prosecuted. Pomerleau did as well, but they were not prosecuted.
Then on March 14, 2013, Richard Dion, formerly of Pomerleau Construction, admitted Pomerleau had been involved in illegal donations to political parties in Quebec. On the same day Yves Codette, VP of SNC Lavalin admitted organizing schemes to funnel thousands of dollars in donations to Quebec provincial parties. The full story is here:
Genivar, a Quebec-based subsidiary of Pomerleau, admitted to the corruption commission that it too had been involved in illegal political donations to get municipal contracts: As did SNC Lavalin. The truely ironic twist is that Pomerleau is the construction arm of the SNC consortium put together to build the Montreal hospital where a $22 million dollar bribe was paid through an offshore company by SNC Lavalin: and
Pomerleau has since become very active in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2009 Pomerleau was the lowest and successful bidder on the new Corner Brook City Hall - $19,798,278. At the time then councillor Neville Greeley was alone in opposing the bid: "The lack of public consultation that has gone into this and the process that has been followed to date; the fact that we are at just about $20 million, with cost overruns...we're pretty soon up to a $24 million city hall - for those reasons I speak against the motion." When the doors opened on the new city hall the final cost was $22 million. The province put in $15 million and the City paid the remaining $7 million.
Pomerleau was the lowest and successful bidder on: the Corner Brook Long Term Care Centre - original price $48.4 million, final price $68.5 million; Corner Brook Water Treatment Plant $36 million; Lab West Hospital $60 million; New Residence Building Grenfell Campus $17,750,000; Demolish and removal of St. Teresa's School $14,810,000; and St. John's Convention Centre expansion $55,000,000. Pomerleau is an approved bidder on the Lower Churchill Project, and is bidding. In addition, Pomerleau just acquired Nielson Inc. which is heavily experienced with hydro dams, including as a partner with H.J. O'Connell. In fact, H.J. O'Connell with Neilson Inc. and the Innu Nation were awarded the excavation work for Muskrat Falls. You will remember from my last post that many H.J. O'Connell executives donated to Peter Penashue's campaign in 2011. A practise which is under extreme scrutiny at the Quebec Corruption Commission hearings.
What seems to be clear from all of this is patterns. Patterns that exist in the Quebec construction industry and are certainly happening here, and now. The knowledge that our former Premier accepted what can only be seen as a reward, in the form of a political donation, for his re-election from Pomerleau is disturbing. Disturbing that in my opinion it clearly breaks the law. Disturbing in that as a wealthy man he didn't need it, yet accepted funds from a company that was clearly rewarding him personally. Did Pomerleau break the law? It appears that they did. Have they broken the law in other jurisdictions regarding donations? Yes, by their own admission they have. Do we have reason to consider that a great many of our current government funded projects may be subject to these type of activities or worse? Absolutely we do. To think differently would be to ignore the facts, and the evidence unearthed in the Quebec Corruption Commission, that point to exactly how these large corporations influence politicians for their own profit - at our expense. Do the RCMP need to investigate this? Yes it is their duty to, and we need them to.
To be clear, yesterday I requested comment on these facts from former premier Danny Williams through his lawyer, and Pomerleau Construction. I also requested the donation lists for the last three municipal elections from the City of St. John's and the City of Corner Brook. I have had no response from any of these enquiries.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Political Donations the Penashue - the inside look

There is just something so blatant, so manipulative, so insulting to the citizens and the law of our country about Peter Penashue's electoral victory in 2011. For me, knowing how corrupted Newfoundland and Labrador politics is, this one drew my attention. Still, I seriously believed that nobody would have the gall to try and play the games they play with politics in this province on the federal level - with all its rules. I have to say I was seriously wrong on that one.

To start with, Penashue's campaign filed an initial return on March 19, 2011. Immediately jumping off the page are the 17 corporate donations, which are illegal, and in particular the Pennecon donation for $5,500.00 - which exceeds the allowable donation by an individual allowed to donate. That was just the initial take. There were 11 individual donations (although 3 were from a "K Williams" which would also violate the law) to go along with the 17 corporate donors. Total donations were $27,850 and $18,710 in non-monetary (read plane rides).

Then there is another list of contributors - all dated after March 19, 2011. There are only 2 corporations on this list, and 63 individuals. Together the two lists paint a picture of deciept, and corporate manipulation of the electoral process - in my opinion. Here are the facts, you be the judge. Don't be afraid to leave me a message on here of what your take is.

To begin with, the first list has three individuals names on it that disappear on the second list - which is odd if you believe Penashue needed all the individual contributions he could get to offset those corporate ones: John Higham, from Nova Scotia based Chignecto Consulting Group (they were the Innu Nation's advisors on the New Dawn Agreement deal); Sheila Montague; and a "K Williams" that made three seperate donations on Mar 30, 2011 (twice) and May 4, 2011. The remainder of the individual donators on the original list show up again on the second list.

This is where it gets tangly folks. This is where the ugly really comes. In this list you are going to find: family of a former provincial leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia (and several people using his address to make donations - FYI he now doubles as President of Grand River Ironsands Inc in Labrador); principles of the Innu Nation's auditors (and family); executives of Pennecon and Penney Group, Law firms for the Innu Nation; Consultants for the Innu Nation; a Quebec construction company; Innu "partnerships" with private corporations; and the list goes on. To get the feel for what is happening economically and politically in Labrador, and Newfoundland for that matter, you need to read this and let it sink in. To make this as readable as possible I've broken down each donor one-by-one. Allowed or Disallowed is to indicate whether or not Elections Canada accepted the donation as legitimate:

Roland Andrews - Clarke's Beach councilor, campaign manager for PC Glen LittleJohn, and employee of NL Hydro-CFLCo. ALLOWED

Michael Barrett - President Academy Canada, Corner Brook. ALLOWED

Larry Barry - actually Lawrence Barry, sole director of Chaisson Construction, director of Innu-Chaisson Construction Ltd (Innu partnership). NOT ALLOWED

Brian Brace - owner Brace's Woodworking. NOT ALLOWED

Rose Branton - wife of Edgar Branton who is director of Innu-Rail Cantech Ltd (Innu Partnership with Quebec company) and financial controller of the Innu Nation. Address used on the return was that of Branton's Enterprises Ltd in Gould's. ALLOWED

Michael Burrell - actually Michael Barrett but entered as a different person. Address used the same as Barrett's. NOT ALLOWED

Gary Callahan - jointly owns Pencal Supplies Ltd with Max Penahue (Peter's brother). Listed on original donation list as Penecal Plasters which doesn't legally exist. NOT ALLOWED

Kathy Capp - listed with an address that does not match a postal code, and the city name spelled wrong, in Nova Scotia. No information is available for her. ALLOWED

Bryan Chafe - actually "Brian Chafe". Chief Operating Officer of Provincial Airlines. ALLOWED

Brad Cole - Vice-President at Pennecon. NOT ALLOWED

Sandy Connors - owner of Switch Electrical Ltd, in partnership with Cahill and Max Penashue (Peter's brother) and Bart Jack (Jr) in a "partnership" called "Iskueteu, A Limited Partnership" which is not incorporated. Fred Cahill appears as contact for Cahill and Sandy Connors for Switch. Cahill head office is listed as the "corporate" address and Switch's address is listed as the "operations" address. Cahill was awarded the ECPM services contract for Muskrat Falls by SNC Lavalin. Eskueteu has been awarded work on the Voisey's Bay project. NOT ALLOWED

Eric Coombs - Chartered Accountant - principle at Gardener Coombs Winsor Coombs Chartered Accountants (GCWC). Auditors for the Innu Nation. ALLOWED

Jane Coombs - wife of Paul Coombs, who is a principle at GCWC. Address listed on return is that of Ranstar HSE Services & Consulting owned by David and Renee Randell. ALLOWED

Lorraine and Robin Cooper - owners of Blizzard Corp, and Minipi Outfitters. ALLOWED

Brad Dalley - General Manager for Newfoundland Multi-Foods Ltd located in Labrador, which is owned by the Warr family. Bob Warr sits on the board of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. ALLOWED

Dove Dyer - address is that of Resource Development Associates Inc., directors David and Rhonda Dyer. No Dove Dyer was found. ALLOWED

Phillip Earl - Sole director, President and CEO of Air Labrador. NOT ALLOWED

Gail Ernest - Unable to locate in Nova Scotia. Incorrect postal code. ALLOWED

Salvatore Furino - Vice-President at H.J. O'Connell, a Quebec construction firm that has/had "partnerships" with Labrador Construction Ltd, SNC Lavalin, Innu-Kiewit and Sons (another partnership), and Innu Nation. H.J. O'Connell has been awarded the bulk excavation work on Muskrat Falls. ALLOWED

Barb Gilles - really Barb Giles, of Hodge Brother's Ltd - Lab City (company address used on return). NOT ALLOWED

Geoffrey Goodyear - director of Universal Helicopters, along with John Steele, Harry R. Steele, and Norm Noseworthy. Innu Mikun Helicopter Service (unincorporated) is in "partnership" with Universal Helicopters, Canadian Helicopters, and the Nunasiavut Government. ALLOWED

Michael Hickey - director of Hickey Construction (forestry). Partner in Kakatshu Limited Partnership - Innu partner is Michel Rich. NOT ALLOWED

Lloyd Hillier - Owner of Hotels North. Partner with Innu in Nika Wood. Innu partners are Michel Rich and Bart Jack (jr). ALLOWED

Steve Hurlburt - V.P. and Secretary Treasurer of H.J. O'Connell Ltd (Quebec). ALLOWED

Larry Innes - Partner at Toronto's Olthius, Kleer Townshend LLP, law firm for the Innu Nation. Resident of Alberta. No personal address in Labrador despite using a Goose Bay address on the donation return. Registered federally as a lobbyist using the address of the Innu Nation office in Happy Valley - Goose Bay. NOT ALLOWED

Innu Mikun Limited Partnership - partnership with Innu Development Limited Partnership (unincorporated) and Provincial Airlines (that supplied Penashue with a writeoff for most of his air travel during the campaign). ALLOWED

Kurt Jacobs - VP at Dexter Construction of NS, subsidiary of Municipal Group of Companies NS. Gray Rock/Municipal Group of companies formed "partnership" with the Innu Development Limited Partnership to create Innu Municipal GP inc/Gray Rock Mining. Jacobs is the General Partners contact in the partnership. ALLOWED

Gerald Kerr - principle at Chignecto Consulting Group Inc. Helped Innu Nation negotiate the Voisey's Bay and Lower Churchill Impact Benefit Agreements. Lists 9 federal departments as clients. NOT ALLOWED

Nancy Kleen - is actually "Nancy Kleer" founding partner of   Olthius, Kleer Townshend LLP, law firm for the Innu Nation. Unlike her partner she used the wrong name instead of the wrong address. ALLOWED

Leonard Knox - Vice President, Major Projects/Eastern Canada Bird Construction, parent company of  H.J. O'Connell Ltd. (Quebec) ALLOWED

Brian Lemessurier - President of H.J. O'Connell (Quebec) ALLOWED

Richard Levert - President of Levert Personnel. (Ontario) ALLOWED

Rich Lewis - owner Lewis Concrete Forming Ltd. Aboriginal business. NOT ALLOWED

Lloyd McDougall - Retired RCMP, owns Mass Consulting Inc (was on the original donors list) in NS (security). Also with CAI Logistics. CAI Logistics has a partnership with CAI Nunatsiavut Marine - a Labrador Ferry service. This person is listed under the same address as Francis MacKenzie, former leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia and President of Grand River Ironsands. NOT ALLOWED

Gladys MacKenzie - wife of Francis MacKenzie, former leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia and President of Grand River Ironsands. She is listed at the same address as Lloyd McDougall and Simeon Osmond. ALLOWED

Charles MacKenzie - relative of Francis MacKenzie, former leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia and President of Grand River Ironsands. ALLOWED

Ed Murphy - Senior VP of Finance, Pennecon Limited. NOT ALLOWED

Donald Noseworthy - Senior VP of the Energy Division, Pennecon Limited. ALLOWED

Geraldine Noseworthy - wife of Donald Noseworthy. ALLOWED

Patrich O'Callahan - should be "Patrick O'Callahan" founder of East Coast Catering. They are in a "partnership" with Innu Development Limited Partnership to operate Labrador Catering Limited Partnership. ALLOWED

Gus Ollerreed - President, Provincial Airlines. ALLOWED

John Olthius - one of the founding partners of  Olthius, Kleer Townshend LLP, law firm for the Innu Nation. ALLOWED

Simeon Osmond - Atlantic Policy Congress for Aboriginal peoples (NS). Address listed under the same address as Francis MacKenzie, former leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia and President of Grand River Ironsands. NOT ALLOWED

Neil Parrott - director N.E. Parrott Surveys Limited. Address used is business address. Involved with surveying Innu lands. Listed as N.E. Parrott Surveys on original donor list. NOT ALLOWED

Geoffrey Pearly - Could not find an individual under this name. The address listed for this person was false, and no such person lives at the address given in the return - personally verified. ALLOWED

Max Penashue - brother of Peter Penashue. Involved in numerous Innu companies. NOT ALLOWED

Ches Penney - Chairman of Pennecon Limited, Chairman of Penney Group holding over 60 companies and employing over 3000 people. NOT ALLOWED

Barney Powers - Father of Tim Powers of SUMA and vocal supporter of the Lower Churchill development. Barney Powers is a director of Labrador Construction (2005) Limited that had partnerships with H.J. O'Connell, Innu Nation, Labrador Inuit and Peter Kiewit and Sons. Apparently Barney has been retired for a few years, but his name remains on the corporate registry. ALLOWED

Carlos Presado - President Labrador Catering Limited Partnership. NOT ALLOWED

Provincial Airlines Ltd - the company that granted a major writeoff of the costs of Peter Penashue's election travel. ALLOWED

Larry Puddister - C.E.O. Pennecon Limited. NOT ALLOWED

Thomas Randell - Data provider - Innu Mikum Airlines. NOT ALLOWED

Edward Reid - Financial Officer, Department of Natural Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. ALLOWED

Angela Rich -  ECE Coordinator at Sheshatsui Innu First Nation; and director Innu Nation. NOT ALLOWED 

Paul Rich - Peter Penashue's brother in law. NOT ALLOWED

Ben Rich - director: Atsanik Nitassinan Scaffolding Ltd; Mamu Solutions Inc.; Uapishkut Construction Ltd.; Pishumuss Group of Companies; Shshatshiu Innu First Nation councilor; and Innu Nation. NOT ALLOWED

Charles Roe - unable to confirm any information here other than the address is wrong, but the postal code is right for a C.P. Roe. ALLOWED

Richard Sheppard - General Manager, East Coast Catering Ltd, in partnership with Labrador Catering Limited Partnership. Bidding on the Lower Churchill EPCM contract. NOT ALLOWED

Paul Snelgrove - President, Labrador Sales Ltd. Labrador Sales Ltd was on the first donors list. NOT ALLOWED

Perry Trimper - First VP Stantec Consulting. Involved in two Innu/ Inuit partnerships: Aivek Stantec; and Stassinu Stantec. Involved in the environmental assessment of the Lower Churchill project for Nalcor. ALLOWED

Jerry White - Chief Financial Officer Penecon Limited. NOT ALLOWED

Darryl Winsor - Chartered Accountant, principle at Gardener Coombs Winsor Coombs Chartered Accountants (GCWC). Auditors for the Innu Nation. ALLOWED

Herbert Woodward - President of: Hamilton Store Limited; Hamilton Wholesalers Limited; and Northland Catering Services.

And that is it! You may ask yourself, given the often repeating nature of corporate and innu relationships outlined here how Elections Canada decided to allow some donations and not others? It would be a fair question...The threads of this seem to be replacing obvious corporate donations with private ones. The donations almost all clearly corporate in nature. A number are disguised in an attempt to deflect scrutiny from the donators - that is illegal. There are some curious things happening in the Nova Scotia donations - especially those centered around the home address of the former leader of the Liberal Party there. There are somewhat shocking ones like those of the auditors of the Innu Nation. And so it goes. You be the judge. My conclusion is the RCMP should be first in and last out here, and Peter Penashue should not have the audacity to run in a byelection that was caused by such obvious manipulations. In many ways this election return reflects the nature of politics in Newfoundland and Labrador where anything goes and there is no accountability. That is not how it goes nationally though...Mr. Penashue and company.

One last story for you to digest on while you contemplate what you read here:


No circumvention of limits

405.2 (1) No person or entity shall
  • (a) circumvent, or attempt to circumvent, the prohibition under subsection 404(1) or a limit set out in subsection 405(1) or section 405.31; or
  • (b) act in collusion with another person or entity for that purpose.

No concealing of source of contribution

(2) No person or entity shall
  • (a) conceal, or attempt to conceal, the identity of the source of a contribution governed by this Act; or
  • (b) act in collusion with another person or entity for that purpose.

Prohibition – accepting excessive contributions

(3) No person who is permitted to accept contributions under this Act shall knowingly accept a contribution that exceeds a limit under this Act.

Prohibited agreements

(4) No person or entity shall enter into an agreement for the provision for payment of goods or services to a registered party or a candidate that includes a term that any individual will make a contribution, directly or indirectly, to a registered party, a registered association, a candidate, a leadership contestant or a nomination contestant

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Riadh Ben Aissa, Danny Williams, and SNC Lavalin

Riadh Ben Aissa (Aissa) has become a very well known name around Canada and the world. The former Vice-President of SNC Lavalin's Construction Division and international salesman/fixer is currently sitting in a Swiss prison. He is being investigated for a multitude of sins which include, among other things, channeling funds through offshore accounts for bribes and his close relationship with the Gadhaffi family of Libya. He was characterized early on in the SNC corruption scandal as a rogue executive and fired. However, as time has marched on it has become clear that he in fact was simply doing the job SNC paid him to - grease the wheels to get contracts (primarily internationally). So far there has been one major bribe in Canada revealed - the Montreal hospital $22 million payment.

You may ask: "What does Aissa have to do with Newfoundland and Labrador?" The truth is a lot more than we know or have been told. Have you ever heard the man's name brought up in the context of this province? Likely not - until now. It starts with BAE Newplan Group Ltd - or rather it's forefathers. BAE Newplan Group Ltd is the result of Newplan Consultants Ltd merging with Newplan Holdings Ltd, and then merging with BAE Group Ltd. The merged company, BAE-SNC Limited, was then a SNC Lavalin subsidiary in this province. It had two directors of note:

1) Elwood J. Ried - was the President of BAE Newplan until he died suddenly in June, 2012. He and fellow BAE executive Albert Williams formed a numbered company in 2009 to construct the condo  known as "The Narrows" in St. John's; and

2) RIADH BEN AISSA - yes that's what I said - the man of international intrigue and money laundering offshore accounts.

Here is the document from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Corporate Registry (CADO):

Dr. Rafik Ben Aissa, Aissa's surgeon brother put it this way:

"Absolutely nothing my brother has done was unknown to the board of SNC-Lavalin. Unfortunately, when it comes to keeping money and business deals going, discrimination, lies, and injustice have sometimes no international limits."

Of course this immediately places many of the deals done in Newfoundland and Labrador over the last twenty years under the microscope. The first question is why would this man in charge of international construction with headquarters in Tunisia, who did mega deals all over the world, be one of two directors in this tiny Newfoundland company? That's a big question. Certainly SNC Lavalin did a lot of business in the province from the mid 1990's on. They have secured a number of contracts with Newfoundland and Labrador Power ( a Crown corporation) and also with its successor Nalcor. Billions of dollars in business. It is alleged that $22 million dollars in bribes were channelled through a Carribean country for SNC to secure the Montreal hospital contract - worth about $1.5 billion and handled by Aissa. Using that as a yard stick, what could be the bribes involved in a $6.5 billion or so contract? SNC secured that contract just after former Premier Williams left office.

Aissa's Newfoundland involvement has some more direct, and problematic questions that need to be addressed. For starters there is the founding of Innu-SNC Lavalin Corp - a joint corporation formed by the Innu Nation (a non-governmental but still government-like organization) and SNC Lavalin. The Board of Directors consists of: Albert Williams (BAE Newplan/SNC VP of Strategy and Development); Steve Lindley (VP of Aboriginal Affairs at SNC); Prote Poker (Innu Chief); and Anastasia Qupee (Innu Chief). The Corporation was formed February, 2008. According to the corporate registry Aissa was still a director of BAE Newplan at that time. In September 2008, the New Dawn Agreement was signed between the Innu Nation, Nalcor, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to pave the way for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project. Both Prote Poker and Anastasia Qupee signed the agreement along with then Deputy Grand Chief of the Innu Nation Peter Penashue.

Peter Penashue, elected as an MP in 2011 under the Conservative banner has subsequently had to resign for improper/illegal campaign donations - almost all his donations were corporate which he subsequently tried to cover up, but the cover up was rejected by Elections Canada. One very questionable issue for him was the illegal interest-free loan granted by the Innu Development Limited Partnership (the unincorporated head organization that administers all the "partnership" organizations the Innu Nation enters into - like Innu/SNC Inc. for example). Elections Canada reports there is no paper trail for this $25,000 other than a single letter, signed by Penashue's brother-in-law, that says a loan was given to Penashue by the Innu Development Limited Partnership. Of course this can not be true as the Partnership is not incorporated and so cannot have a bank account from which to lend money. He is now running in the by-election that he created by resigning over the fiasco.

However, the bigger question remains: Were Peter Penashue, Prote Poker, and/or Anastasia Qupee in a conflict of interest while negotiating the New Dawn Agreement on behalf of their people? Did their board membership on the Innu/SNC corporation create a very obvious pecuniary conflict of interest? My opinion is if they were paid to be on that board then without question. My understanding is they are paid to be on that Board. Were they also in the same conflict of interest when they sold the agreement to their people so they would endorse it by referendum and thereby give it legitimacy? Again, I would say yes. What role did Aissa play in this as director of SNC's outpost in the province? It's difficult to know that without a thorough RCMP investigation. One thing is certain - BAE-SNC Limited was still in existence at that time and so was Aissa.

Then there is the issue of our former Premier Danny Williams. As stated in a previous blog, Williams had two offshore service companies: Spectrol Energy Services (with a Texas Subsidiary); and Atlanic XL. Both companies had William's brother Edward, recently appointed to the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Board (CNLOPB) after leaving the Premier's office as an advisor, on their Board of Directors. This remained the case even after they were put in a "blind trust". Both companies gained lucrative contracts in the offshore oil developments around the province while Williams was Premier. Williams negotiated many of these agreements, including the necessity of using Newfoundland and Labrador companies - not unlike Penashue and his family's dealings and the Lower Churchill Impact and Benefits Agreement. The direct result was his companies grew and prospered - as did Penashue's family business interests.

On December 31, 2008 BAE-SNC Limited was voluntarily dissolved as a corporation. A new corporation was formed to take its place - BAE Newplan Group Limited. Why the one containing Aissa as director was dissolved and another created to take its place is puzzling. The new corporation has a directorship of four (all senior SNC people) as opposed to two at the old company. In any case it dissolved, as did the formal traces of Aissa in Newfoundland and Labrador. Four months later SNC Lavalin purchased Danny Williams offshore service companies for an undisclosed amount. The deal, secret as it remains, could have been constructed to give Williams an artificially high value for his companies - a common practise in corporate corruption prosecutions world-wide. We simply do not know. What we do know is the man at the centre of SNC's corruption practices had effective control of SNC's one subsidiary in the province at the time. We know his reputation. Williams was prepared to place himself in a conflict of interest by negotiating offshore agreements while owning companies that would benefit from the Newfoundland and Labrador policies of those agreements. Newfoundland and Labrador's conflict of interest legislation states:

"Statutory duty
3. A public office holder shall not make or participate in making a decision in his or her capacity as a public office holder where the public office holder knows or ought reasonably to know that in the making of the decision there is the opportunity to benefit himself or herself or a member of his or her family improperly, directly or indirectly. "
Four months later, then Libyan leader, and personal/professional friend of Aissa and SNC, Moammar Gadhaffi, announced he wished to stay overnight in St. John's of all places. Apparently it was simply a refueling stop enroute back to Libya after speaking at the United Nations. Of course any person with a sense of direction realizes Libya is southeast of New York, and to travel several hours north makes no sense on the face of it. Williams was also very, very silent on the issue. While the Canadian government threatened Gadhaffi with lectures on terrorism the provincial government, and Williams, simply refused to comment. It is apparent that Gadhaffi was a man of deliberate action and it would be hard to attribute such a visit to shear coincidence based on a really poor sense of direction. What is more likely is Gadhaffi wanted to meet with Williams, or some person/people associated with Williams based on his friendship with Aissa. It was apparent that it made some people very nervous. Gadhaffi was so incensed by the treatment he was to receive should he stay in Canada that he threatened to nationalize Petro Canada's assets in Libya. He eventually changed his mind, but he was clearly insulted by the treatment of his potential hosts.
What other influences could Aissa have exerted in this province while a director of BAE? Well there is the whole political donation thing. Over the last 17 years BAE has donated a total of $239,170.00 dollars to political parties here. The receiving parties have been the PCs and the Liberals while the NDP have not received a cent. The Liberals received $111,965.00 - primarily from 1996-2000. The PCs received $127,205.00 - $113,800.00 after 2000 when Williams became leader of the PCs. Those dollar figures put BAE in the top three of political donors in Newfoundland and Labrador. They donated every year from 1996-2011. They donated in by-elections. They donated in elections, but only to one party - the one that won. Some interesting donations of note: Ed Byrne ($2000 in 2003-he became Minister of Natural Resources under Williams); Jerome Kennedy ($1000 in the 2006 Quidi Vidi by-election and again in elections-has been Minister of Finance and Natural Resources); Terry French ( ranging from $500 to $2000 in various elections and one by-election - served a number of Ministries including Environment); Paul Davis ( on numerous elections - responsible for Government purchasing); and several others. Bottom line, all of these people that received political donations had involvement with the Lower Churchill project and accepted donations from a company directly involved with it.
Should the RCMP be investigating the Riadh Ben Aissa relationships with: the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador; Nalcor; Danny Williams sale of his offshore companies; the Innu involvement with SNC and the New Dawn Agreement; etc? My opinion is yes. The conflicts of interest are obvious. Aissa's reputation as the guy that greases the wheels is established. His own brother does not deny that. A month or so ago contacts from Labrador to St. John's were floating news that SNC's office in St. John's was emptied out early in the day and staff told not to come back for that day. VOCM talk show host Paddy Daly twittered that he had heard rumours the RCMP raided SNC's St. John's office.
Could be that the RCMP have already become aware of something we were not - Aissa's reputation and his ties to Newfoundland and Labrador.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Battle in Labrador Heats Up

Todd Russell,President of Nunatukavut, being arrested
at Muskrat Falls protest 5 April 2013
You won't see the picture above on any of the main media outlets in Newfoundland and Labrador. Yet this was the scene yesterday when the duly elected President of the Nunatukavut was arrested 10km from Muskrat Falls for interrupting traffic with 20 or so followers. The purpose of their action was to draw attention to the fact that they have not been consulted or accommodated about the Muskrat Falls project despite it being within the territory they claim.
It's a tale of three nations really: the Innu of Labrador; the Nunatsiavut; and the Nunatukavut. They are the Aboriginal peoples of Labrador.
                                                   Peter Penashue, Innu of Labrador
The Innu of Labrador, and specifically an organization called the "Innu Nation" are the subject of a three part series coming up on this blog. In the meantime, you can think of the Innu of Labrador as "haves" and "have nots". The "haves" are a very few families that control all the business done in Innu territory and the workings of the Innu governments - that will also be detailed in the series. The have nots are almost all the rest of the Innu. Stricken by third world poverty, and every social ill you can imagine, the "have nots" have been left to fend for themselves. Of course, there are also many Elders in the Innu community that are very hesitant about the new development mentality sweeping the "haves" along. They stand in their place to defend ancient responsibilities to the Land and the animals. Perhaps the best known being Elizabeth Penashue, the mother of the man above - Peter. Polar opposites in values, ideals, and how to get there. Ancient responsibilities versus one ancient problem - greed.
                                                                   Elizabeth Penashue
Bottom line - we never saw Peter Penashue dragged across the streets by police like a common criminal. No. He went the other way. Deals with corporations, deals with politicians, etc. They needed him on board for Muskrat Falls, and yet he is now the one facing a possible criminal action as well. His obvious breach of Elections Canada laws, as noted in the previous posting on this blog, should land him in a pair of handcuffs - although nobody deserves to be dragged. His handcuffs will not be chains restricting his freedom to protest. No, they will be chains restricting him from further breaking the laws of democracy.
                                                                 Sarah Leo, President
The Nunatsiavut, or Inuit, are the only native peoples in Labrador to actually have a government - established by the only finalized land claim agreement in Labrador. Their primary emphasis is on individual and community health. By way of example, the Nunatsiavut government is conducting, and funding a study of the impact of mercury poisoning in Lake Melville and estuaries within their boarders. They are doing this without any assistance from the provincial government, and in many ways against the provincial government. Their waters have been poisoned by the Upper Churchill dam, and they are rightly concerned about it becoming even worse with two more dams proposed for the Lower Churchill. Not surprisingly they are not partnered with large corporations or governments in many if any cash producing schemes. They remain focused on their people, and not the almighty dollar.
It's a tale of three peoples, three leaders, and three different approaches. The three part series on the Innu Nation will show this in dramatic and shocking form.
The question in my mind remains: How can it be that the elected leader of his people, a former Member of Parliament in his own right, be handcuffed and dragged through the streets like a common criminal? Did that happen to any other Aboriginal leaders during the "Idle no more" protests? The answer is no. So why did it happen to President Todd Russell? Are the Nunatukavut somehow less Aboriginal in the minds of the Newfoundland and Labrador government? Are Aboriginals less respected in Newfoundland and Labrador than other provinces? Is Nalcor's determination to build Muskrat Falls more important than basic human rights? The answer to all three of these questions is yes.
One last, but not least, mention. Jim Learning, Nunatukavut Elder and Veteran was arrested along with Todd Russell yesterday. He was also arrested a short while ago for walking down the Muskrat Falls access road without permission from Nalcor. He has been left in jail for the weekend and word has it he will be there until next Friday. His crime? Disrupting traffic to Muskrat Falls. On his own Aboriginal land. Jim Learning refused to sign a statement he would not return to do the same again. So they left him in prison. Jim Learning is a Veteran, an Elder, in his seventies, and a man of conviction - a hero. Thank-you Jim.
                                                         Jim Learning, Hero, Inspiration