Review clears ambassador over husband's work in Libya
Sandra McCardell, former ambassador to Libya, 'ethical and transparent'
Canada's former ambassador to Libya acted appropriately in how she handled her husband's working for engineering giant SNC-Lavalin in the country, a newly released report says.
Sandra McCardell, who ran the diplomatic mission in the North African country until November 2011, overall acted "in an ethical and transparent manner.... She conducted herself appropriately with her staff and with SNC-Lavalin and she did not use her office as head of mission to favour SNC-Lavalin," the report says.
McCardell first went to the department's values and ethics division in September, 2009, about her husband Edis Zagorac's possible employment with the company, and went back to the division in October, 2010, with details of his work. The review says she should have gone back to them sooner, although the "subsequent exchange ... served to codify procedures already being followed," the report notes.
McCardell dealt with senior representatives of SNC-Lavalin and not with her spouse, whose duties meant only minimal contact with the embassy, the report says.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird ordered the review after CBC News reported that SNC-Lavalin had hired Zagorac to work as part of a military-civilian engineering unit that the company created with the now-deposed Moammar Gadhafi regime.
SNC-Lavalin, which has billions of dollars in contracts with Libya, hired the ambassador’s husband for the project shortly after her appointment to Libya.
The review recommends a clarification to the department's code of conduct, however, to instruct heads of mission to tell their direct supervisors or managers in writing of the recommendations they get from the department's ethics division about spousal employment.
A copy of the report's executive summary was provided to CBC News.
The deputy ministers of foreign affairs and trade, Morris Rosenberg and Louis Lévesque, oversaw the review, which saw 14 people interviewed, including McCardell and Zagorac.
"Personnel at the mission indicated that Ms. McCardell never exerted any pressure on them to favor SNC-Lavalin," the report says.
"Ms McCardell was open from the beginning about her spouse's employment with SNC-Lavalin with her direct supervisor and with her staff at the mission."