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Averting layoffs poor excuse for giving SNC-Lavalin a pass

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SNC-Lavalin sign. Photo: Jeangagnon/Wikimedia Commons

Bereft of any valid excuse for pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the crime and corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin, Prime Minister Trudeau, with his aides and cabinet loyalists, have fallen back on the sanctimonious claim that they were only trying to save the threatened jobs of the company's employees.

Once saved from both its financial and law-breaking predicaments, surely SNC-Lavalin would have no reason to lay off workers. That was the Trudeau government's implied assumption. 

It surely knew better.

Hark back to the huge government handout heaped on another big Quebec-based company, Bombardier, a few years ago. Like SNC-Lavalin, the aerospace giant was repeatedly subsidized by the federal government, had the same cozy relationship with the Liberal party, and currently faces similar bid-rigging and corruption charges in the courts of Sweden and Brazil.

In 2017, when Bombardier had another of its perennial profit declines, the Trudeau government came to its rescue with a massive $3.7-billion bailout, allegedly to enable the company to avoid large planned layoffs. A few months later, Bombardier sacked 3,000 of its Canadian workers and gifted its senior executives with a 50 per cent salary raise. 

Financial Post columnist Andrew Coyne's sardonic reaction to Bombardier's blatant misuse of taxpayers' money was to quip that "Bombardier is not in the transportation industry; it's in the government subsidies industry."

The jobs of SNC-Lavalin employees would be no more secure than those of Bombardier if SNC-Lavalin ever decided -- thanks to ongoing government largesse -- that it could get by without them.

Ed Finn grew up in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, where he worked as a printer’s apprentice, reporter, columnist, and editor of that city’s daily newspaper, the Western Star. His career as a journalist included 14 years as a labour relations columnist for the Toronto Star. He was part of the world of politics between 1959 and 1962, serving as the first provincial leader of the NDP in Newfoundland. He worked closely with Tommy Douglas for some years and helped defend and promote medicare legislation in Saskatchewan.

Photo: Jeangagnon/Wikimedia Commons

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