The Current

SNC-Lavalin lobbied for Criminal Code changes while 'courts breathing down' company's neck: journalist

What exactly are the politics at play behind former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould's resignation, and the SNC-Lavalin affair? Maclean's writer Paul Wells helps us connect the dots.

Lobbying for changes to Criminal Code was not illegal, says Paul Wells

The Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin is facing allegations of fraud and corruption in Libya. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Read Story Transcript

SNC-Lavalin was actively lobbying to have the Criminal Code adjusted while a criminal case against the company was gathering pace, according to a senior writer at Maclean's Magazine.

"The courts were coming after SNC-Lavalin, and with the courts breathing down SNC-Lavalin's neck, it proceeded to intensely lobby government and opposition politicians to get the Criminal Code written … in such a way as to ease the pressure upon SNC-Lavalin," said Paul Wells.

The lobbying was not illegal, Wells pointed out, but added that "as Michael Kinsley, the U.S. journalist and magazine editor used to say: 'The scandal is often what's allowed.'"

The Quebec engineering giant is facing allegations of fraud and corruption in Libya, and is at the centre of accusations that the prime minister's office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson Raybould to intervene in the case. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has denied those allegations. Wilson-Raybould resigned as Veterans Affairs Minister Tuesday.

Wells said beginning in 2017, SNC-Lavalin successfully lobbied for deferred prosecution agreements to be written into the Criminal Code.

The agreements allow companies to make an out-of-court settlement over criminal charges, while continuing to operate as a business.

DPAs became law in Canada in Sept. 2018, but the company's request for one was eventually refused. The criminal case is now at the preliminary hearing stage. SNC-Lavalin has pleaded not guilty.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Julie Crysler.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?