Saskatchewan

Sask. NDP calls for review and moratorium on province's deals with SNC-Lavalin

Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili is questioning the provincial government’s relationship with Quebec engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin.

Federal ethics commissioner to probe Prime Minister's Office over SNC-Lavalin scandal

The Saskatchewan NDP want the provincial government to hold off on future deals with Quebec engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin. (The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili is questioning the provincial government's relationship with Quebec engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin.

"We are calling for a moratorium on any further deals with SNC-Lavalin until a full review has taken place," Meili said Monday.

A Globe and Mail report last week cited anonymous sources who said members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office tried to press former Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould to have federal prosecutors negotiate a "remediation agreement" with SNC-Lavalin rather than move ahead with legal proceedings.

The Quebec engineering and construction giant has been charged with fraud and corruption in connection with payments of nearly $48 million to public officials in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi's government. SNC is also accused of defrauding Libyan organizations of an estimated $130 million.

On Monday, the federal ethics commissioner announced he would investigate allegations that the Prime Minister's Office pressured Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. 

Meili said his party is questioning the province's relationship with SNC-Lavalin, pointing to political donations made to the Saskatchewan Party and government contracts awarded to the company.

According to the NDP, SNC-Lavalin has received about $765,800,000 in government contracts from 2009 to 2018 and SNC-Lavalin donated $9,300 to the Saskatchewan Party from 2009 to 2013.

"When we look at the history between the Sask. Party and SNC-Lavalin over the past decade, with nearly $10,000 in publicly disclosed donations going one way and three-quarters of a billion dollars in contracts going the other, it's enough to give the people of the province pause, especially when our political donations and conflict of interest rules are so lax," Meili said.

NDP leader Ryan Meili says SNC-Lavalin is "embroiled in numerous scandals" and its relationship with provincial government needs to be scrutinized. (CBC/Matthew Garand)

The Sask. NDP has asked for reform of the province's campaign finance rules. Meili said he wants to know what lobbying was done by SNC-Lavalin before Saskatchewan's lobbyists registry was created in 2016.

Pay-to-play suggestion 'offensive,' says deputy premier

In response to the NDP's claims, Deputy Premier Gord Wyant said the province has "robust" conflict of interest legislation and "clear and transparent process with respect to procurement".

"To be honest with you any allegation that's made by the New Democrats with respect to pay-to-play, I think it's patently offensive to me," Wyant said.

Wyant said the last contribution by SNC-Lavalin to the Saskatchewan Party was $1,200 for tickets to the premier's dinner in 2013.

SaskPower and SNC-Lavalin were in a dispute resolution process regarding problems with the carbon capture plant. The company was selected to engineer, procure and build the facility. (SaskPower)

He said the province would monitor the allegations against SNC-Lavalin and the probe by the ethics commissioner but the province will not ban the company from bidding on projects.

"There is no reason why, at least in terms of what we know now, why we would exclude them from contracting with the government," Wyant said.

Contracts with the province

Last month, SNC-Lavalin received a 30-year contract from the Graham Capital Partners to manage the P3 Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford.

SNC-Lavalin was selected to engineer and construct SaskPower's Boundary Dam 3 Carbon Capture and Sequestration facility. In 2014, SaskPower expressed disappointment with the Quebec company over "serious design issues" with the plant. One issue had to do with a leaking tank which was installed by SNC-Lavalin. The tank was supplied by a third party.

As of September 2018, SaskPower and SNC-Lavalin had completed mediation and were headed to binding arbitration.

In September 2015,  SaskPower awarded SNC an engineering contract for the Island Falls Powerhouse Concrete Rehabilitation project in Saskatchewan. The total capital cost of the project is $45 million.

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 12 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

with files from Elise von Scheel

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