Loading articles...

Concerns raised that SNC-Lavalin troubles could impact Metro Vancouver transit plans

Last Updated Mar 11, 2019 at 2:12 pm PDT

File Photo. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the SNC-Lavalin controversy continues to cloud Canadian politics, a Vancouver city councillor is now worried the Quebec engineering firm’s legal troubles could jeopardize Metro Vancouver transit and transportation projects.

Colleen Hardwick is asking the city to review its relationship with the company, which has been accused of giving out bribes to win contacts.

SNC-Lavalin and Bombardier were part of other transit projects like the Canada Line.

Hardwick’s motion is expected to be tabled on Tuesday. However, it falsely states that SkyTrain technology is proprietary.

In fact, neither of the companies hold any patents to it, which means any company could step in and build a new line with most of the same parts.

But do you think the Quebec engineering firm should be blacklisted from bidding on such projects as the future Broadway subway?

“They should have their license to practice business revoked until they can clear their name,” one woman told NEWS 1130.

Another agreed, but but added, “I think everybody has a choice and freedom. The city will be able to reject the proposal.”

One man feels SNC-Lavalin should still be permitted to bid. “I think the problem was with a few individuals at the top.”

Many others said they just don’t know enough about the court case to have an opinion.

SNC-Lavalin is on the short list of companies who want to build the new Pattullo Bridge. None of the allegations against it have been proven in court.

NEWS 1130 reached out to B.C.’s transportation minister for comment, but was told the minister is not available for an interview.

In a statement, the ministry says it is “unable to comment on the court case, or regarding potential proponents who may respond to the Request for Qualifications.”

“That said, it’s government’s responsibility to do extensive due diligence when it comes to procurement and selecting a short-list of companies that can deliver the project on-time and on-budget. We use open procurement processes and are dedicated to getting the best value for people in B.C. There are many checkpoints in the procurement process, including the procurement team, project board or steering committees, legal counsel, fairness advisor, and a relationship review committee.”

“There are several types of equipment and components used on SkyTrain that can be supplied by any number of companies. This includes the guideway structure, the rail, trains, communications equipment and other subsystems. SNC Lavalin and Bombardier do not hold patents on equipment or components that could not be supplied by others. Automated train lines are popular around the world and that growth has brought more choice in the market. Many companies can deliver rapid transit infrastructure and fleets,” it added.

OECD concerned with allegations Trudeau interfered in SNC-Lavalin case

Meantime, the international economic group that oversees a global anti-bribery convention says it’s monitoring the allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau interfered in a criminal prosecution against SNC-Lavalin.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says it is concerned by accusations that Trudeau and staff in his office tried to persuade former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to let the Quebec engineering giant negotiate a remediation agreement rather than pursue the firm on criminal charges of bribery and fraud.

SNC-Lavalin is accused of bribing Libyan officials to win a $58-million contract to restore a water pipeline.

Wilson-Raybould says multiple people from Trudeau’s office, the finance minister’s office and the Privy Council Office all put sustained, improper pressure on her to change her mind about pursuing a criminal trial for the firm.

Trudeau and his staff deny anything improper occurred, saying they only wanted to make sure Wilson-Raybould had information about the impact on jobs and wanted her to seek an outside expert opinion on remediation agreements which are a brand new tool in Canada’s criminal law.

The Anti-Bribery Convention, which Canada signed onto in 1999, establishes international standards to criminalize the bribery of foreign officials and the OECD says it is closely monitoring the outcome of the investigations into the SNC-Lavalin affair.

 – With files from Alison Bailey