It appears that everyone got played, from the Canadian media to the Liberal Party and Jody Wilson-Raybould. The SNC Lavalin affair took out some of the biggest players in the Canadian government, including the prime minister’s principal advisor, clerk of the privy council, and the attorney general. It’s a stark reminder the election is on, even before the writ drops.
I will now perform the post mortem analysis, armed with new details that were hidden from testimony to the justice committee. The reality is this scandal had less to do with SNC Lavalin than it did with Jody Wilson-Raybould’s indigenous heritage. A campaign was afoot against the former attorney general by various partisan interests to undermine her reputation and hamstring Liberals from making legal progress on the Indigenous Rights Framework promise.
The only question is – was Jody Wilson-Raybould a completely unwitting target, or did she willingly participate at any point, against the interests of her party? Hopefully this assessment will provide her with a safer space to explain certain actions than the viciously skewed battle-ring constructed by Canada’s hyper-partisan media.
Please note that sources will be linked for your inspection, including archived copies of the same pages (where possible) in case originals are deleted from the internet.
This begins with a helpful timeline that puts agendas in greater perspective, followed by sections examining key players, the relevant conflicts between them, and the potential legal consequences for Canadian press freedom.
An Illuminating Timeline
2014 – Multiple charges are laid against SNC Lavalin executives, related to the Libyan bribery scandal.
February 13, 2015 – Sami Bebawi, the former vice president of SNC Lavalin construction, is released on bail for obstruction of justice charges related to the Libyan bribery scandal. Charges were originally filed in 2014, but the accused was delayed in returning to Canada. (original + archive)
February 11, 2016 – SNC Lavalin begins lobbying the prime minister’s office (PMO), Liberal cabinet ministers, and several opposition MP’s including Andrew Scheer (Conservative leader) and Jagmeet Singh (NDP leader) for a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA), after firing its bad apples from the company. (original + archive)
***Edit – After publishing, NDP candidates took to social media to deny Jagmeet Singh’s involvement. A link to the lobbying record between NDP officials and SNC Lavalin is now provided, to resolve that partisan attempt at misinformation. (original + archive) Also added is the full lobbying record of SNC Lavalin, identifying every government official from every party they met with, in an effort to secure a DPA. (original – click Monthly Communication Reports for chronological list)
July 8, 2016 – The Supreme Court of Canada rules on R v. Jordan, setting a precedent that defendants must be tried within 18 months of being criminally charged, or within 30 months if a preliminary inquiry is pursued. (original + archive)
December 12, 2017 – Justice Richard Wagner is appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. He was previously selected by former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Wagner is the son of a former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister and federal candidate for Conservative leadership. Peers describe his rulings as somewhat Conservative leaning, although he’s upheld Charter rights on significant cases favouring Liberals. (original + archive)
May, 2018 – A private member’s bill (C-262) by MP Romeo Saganash (NDP) to harmonize federal laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) passes the first reading, with Conservatives voting against it. (original + archive)
September, 2018 – The Liberal government implements deferred prosecution agreements (DPA’s) in the omnibus budget bill, bringing Canada up to speed with our trading partners – the United States, United Kingdom, and France – to ensure they don’t have an unfair advantage – also to protect employees and pensioners who were not involved in wrongdoing. (original + archive)
September, 2018 – While still Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould battles with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett, over the implementation of an Indigenous Rights Framework. The Trudeau government promised this action, but Bennett was opposed to moving quickly enough for this to happen before the next election. She also opposed the Department of Justice having control of the legal aspects, despite the attorney general’s expertise. (original + archive)
End of October, 2018 – The Privy Council Office (PCO/Wernick) requests a legal opinion from the Department of Justice regarding the potential impacts if SNC Lavalin is criminally convicted. As attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould instructed her deputy minister to withhold that report. (original + archive)
This is arguably insubordination, for refusing to provide legal advice to the PMO. The request didn’t constitute pressure to offer a DPA; instead asking what happens when one is denied. The legislation enabling a deferred prosecution agreement had only been live for one month when the prosecutor denied this option to SNC Lavalin. Also denied was advice to seek outside legal guidance on using a DPA, by the attorney general.
November 28, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould texts with Gerry Butts (PMO) about the Indigenous Rights Framework, to advise she fulfilled an important part of her mandate letter from the prime minister. She advises she would publish the Attorney General Indigenous Litigation Directive the following day and she’s very happy about it. Wilson-Raybould indicates she negotiated with fellow ministers and notably, Conservative lawyers within the Department of Justice, to gain their approval. She fielded concerns from the PMO on this very day and presumably gained their support, because Butts doesn’t respond for a week and never dissents. (original + Scribd docs)
December 11, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould texts with Gerry Butts (PMO) again, this time inquiring about changes the prime minister wants to the Attorney General Indigenous Litigation Directive (informal working title), what the outcome was at a cabinet meeting, and if she had approval to distribute these guidelines. She assures Butts that she made all the changes required by “Elder” (Elder Marques, senior policy advisor to the prime minister). They wouldn’t resume texting again until a month later. (original + Scribd docs)
December 19, 2018 – Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick (PCO) meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for lunch. Wernick testified that he attempted to contact Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould later in the day at her home, to discuss SNC Lavalin and the consequences of her decision on whether to intervene in the case. (Some phone tag ensued before the two got in touch.) (original + archive)
December 19, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould meets with ex Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell at a coffee shop in Vancouver, for advice on political interference in the attorney general’s office and the latter’s experience with the David Milgaard case for comparison. (original + archive)
December 19, 2018 – Jody Wilson-Raybould calls Michael Wernick back about the SNC Lavalin matter and records the conversation without informing him. (Bear in mind there is a three hour time difference between Ontario and British Columbia.) (video analysis + full call audio + archive)
As with many journalists, lawyers, and pundits, I argue this is a breach of ethics and give reasons in a viral Twitter essay. The thread addresses cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege as different paths to arrive at the same conclusion. (original + archive)
January 8, 2019 – After a few days of phone tag, Jody Wilson-Raybould learns she’s being moved from the attorney general post and texts with Gerry Butts (PMO) about the appearance of being “pushed out”. (original + Scribd docs)
January 9 & 10, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould is on vacation in Bali. She and Gerry Butts (PMO) have trouble getting in touch with one another, and she acknowledges her fate being in his hands. Butts responds that it’s okay if she wants to tune out and enjoy her vacation for the next couple days. (original + Scribd docs)
January 11, 2019 – While still on vacation, Jody Wilson-Raybould publishes the Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website. It’s important to read this document in its entirety, because it’s at the heart of the current controversy and what the former attorney general is trying to protect – from Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, Conservative lawyers in the DOJ, and through negotiations with cabinet, the PCO (Wernick), and PMO (Butts/Trudeau/Elder). (original + archive)
January 14, 2019 – Dr. Jane Philpott is shuffled from Minister of Indigenous Services to President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government. Jody Wilson-Raybould is shuffled from the Attorney General’s Office and Minister of Justice, to become the Minister of Veterans Affairs. (original + archive)
In response, Wilson-Raybould publishes a poignant letter addressing Indigenous issues that was subsequently deleted from the Liberal website upon ejecting her from the party. (original PDF now missing)
February 7, 2019 – The Globe and Mail publishes an exposé that claims the PMO politically interfered in the SNC Lavalin prosecution and placed undue pressure on Jody Wilson-Raybould to offer the corporation a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Principal Secretary Gerry Butts (PMO), and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick (PCO) all denied the allegation, that was based on an anonymous source. (archive for those without a subscription)
One point of contention is the leaker cited confidential information within the Prime Minister’s Office that only staff in the PMO or PCO would be privy to.
February 12, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould resigns as Minister of Veterans Affairs. A number of anonymous sources leaked to media that senior government officials, including the prime minister, tried to negotiate with Wilson-Raybould for weeks leading up to this moment. They say the former attorney general had a number of conditions, such as apologizing and firing Gerry Butts, as well as Michael Wernick – but obviously that mediation was unsuccessful.
Five conditions were reported but the leakers would only describe three, with no explanation why they withheld part of the information. This indicates again that only Cabinet, the PCO, and PMO would have been privy to these details, to be able to inform reporters. (original + archive)
February 18, 2019 – Gerald Butts (aka Gerry) resigns as Principal Advisor to the Prime Minister. His letter is distributed to the public and he cites anonymous allegations against him regarding SNC Lavalin as the reason for his departure. He says those allegations are false and reiterates his good working relationship with Jody Wilson-Raybould throughout. This positive relationship is supported by Wilson-Raybould’s similar recollections and the text messages they shared previously, in contrast to the media’s depiction as adversarial. (original + archive)
February 22, 2019 – Conservative MP Lisa Raitt, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, floats the idea that Jody Wilson-Raybould believed she was removed as the attorney general due to her position on the Indigenous reconciliation file. (original + archive)
February 27, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould testifies at the justice committee. She claims to have faced undue pressure to intervene in the SNC Lavalin case and offer a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). (original transcript + archive)
February 27, 2019 – Self-professed Liberal strategist (and lawyer) Warren Kinsella publishes a photo of his wife, Lisa Kinsella, hugging Jody Wilson-Raybould upon conclusion of her testimony. This caused a stir on social media where he also posted and it was deleted shortly after. However, the Google cache retained a copy from the original webpage. (original deleted + cache copy + archive)
February 28, 2019 – Social media and Liberal activist ‘Paddy O’Limerick’ commented about the photo Warren Kinsella posted on Twitter of his wife hugging Jody Wilson-Raybould, in connection with the SNC Lavalin scandal. (archive)
Kinsella responded by trying to obtain her personal information in a threatening way and the internet considered this a threat to dox her.
Concerned individuals reported the threat to Twitter, but the social media company declined to intervene because ‘Paddy’s’ personal information had not yet been published. They decided that threats to publicly identify a user’s name and address are within the terms of service. (original + archive)
While Twitter may condone this behaviour and driving women off the internet, I warned the parties that Pat (aka Patty, Paddy) is the wife of a police officer through my personal and professional knowledge. This is why she uses an alias, to protect the safety of her family. (original + archive)
It is unknown if doxxing is considered conduct unbecoming of a lawyer by any law society. I’m not aware of a professional complaint being filed, although additional considerations about Mr. Kinsella are addressed in a subsequent section.
March 4, 2019 – Dr. Jane Philpott resigns as Treasury Board President and Minister of Digital Government. She makes this decision in support of Jody Wilson-Raybould and claims she has lost confidence in this government, over the handling of SNC Lavalin. (original + archive)
March 6, 2019 – Former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Gerald Butts (aka Gerry), testifies at the justice committee. He doesn’t wish to quarrel with Jody Wilson-Raybould about their recollection of events, but denies putting pressure on the ex attorney general regarding SNC Lavalin. Instead he reports in their December 5, 2018 meeting that she was primarily concerned with the Indigenous rights and civil litigation directive. (original transcript + archive)
March 6, 2019 – Clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick, testifies again and publishes a supplementary statement on the government website. In the last paragraph he warns the justice committee needs to investigate the Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples that Jody Wilson-Raybould published on January 11, 2019, because ‘it marks a profound change in the legal landscape’. He advises it can be easily rescinded, and characterizes the question of support for Wilson-Raybould’s directive as an election wedge issue. (original + archive)
March 8, 2019 – A federal judge rejects SNC Lavalin’s application for judicial review of the prosecutor’s refusal to negotiate a DPA. The court cited the company’s failure to suggest there had been an abuse of process. (original + archive)
March 18, 2019 – Michael Wernick resigns as Clerk of the Privy Council. He cites the non-partisan duties of an impending election and that ‘there is no path to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the Opposition parties’. (original + archive)
March 19, 2019 – The Trudeau Liberal government delivers the federal (election) budget, but it fails to gain much traction against the political sniping surrounding Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC Lavalin. (original + archive)
March 19, 2019 – A photo is sent to Susan Delacourt (Liberal columnist at the Toronto Star and iPolitics) depicting Jody Wilson-Raybould, Dr. Jane Philpott, and Lisa Kinsella engaged in a post-budget chat at Chateau Laurier. Kinsella is Warren’s wife and his partner in the Daisy Group political consulting business. She was with Wilson-Raybould at the conclusion of the latter’s testimony as well. (original + archive)
March 20, 2019 – Retired judge, Brian Giesbrecht, publishes a screed against Jody Wilson-Raybould for her directive to the Department of Justice regarding Indigenous rights and how to approach civil litigation involving Section 35 matters. Giesbrecht claims that Jody Wilson-Raybould instructed federal lawyers not to appeal decisions against the government and a wide range of boogeyman allegations; but that simplistic regurgitation isn’t wholly true, nor is it a reasonable representation of the former attorney general’s guidelines. For context, Giesbrecht is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy – a known Conservative institution. He also published in Troy Media, that plainly states it is a Conservative operation. (original + archive)
March 21, 2019 – Dr. Jane Philpott gives an exclusive interview to Macleans and claims, “There’s much more to the story that needs to be told.” She encourages the government to tell Canadians the truth, but withholds what truth she’s talking about. (original + archive)
March 24, 2019 – Owner of the Daisy Group political consulting firm, Warren Kinsella, trades friendly repartée with ex Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell and brags about his nickname as the Prince of Darkness. (archive)
March 25, 2019 – An anonymous source leaks that Jody Wilson-Raybould recommended Justice Glenn Joyal for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. This information is highly confidential and she is criticized for backing a known Conservative, who took issue with Charter rights being used as a means of political activism to ‘govern from the bench’.
This source knew the former attorney general submitted a 60-page report in support of Joyal and the only people who would have known this fine detail are close colleagues in the Department of Justice, the PCO/PMO, or the ‘independent’ advisory board that was headed by former Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell. (original + archive)
March 25, 2019 – Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench slams the government leaker and Canadian media for engaging in a political smear campaign using his name. Joyal corrects the propaganda and reports that he withdrew his name from Supreme Court deliberations due to his wife’s cancer diagnosis before a decision was made. (archive for those without a subscription)
March 26, 2019 – One day later, another anonymous source peddled more detailed information about Jody Wilson-Raybould’s thought process behind nominating Justice Glenn Joyal over Justice Richard Wagner. This leaker had such exclusive access to the highest levels of government that they must have received the former attorney general’s 60-page nomination report. These details indicate a serious breach in parliamentary security. (archive for those without a subscription)
March 26, 2019 – Self-proclaimed Liberal strategist (also attorney) Warren Kinsella slams Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as blameworthy for the leak about Justice Joyal and the Supreme Court appointments process. He claims the PMO is responsible for a campaign to smear Jody Wilson-Raybould. (original + archive)
April 1, 2019 – A preliminary inquiry concludes and a judge must decide if there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial against the SNC Lavalin corporation, regarding the Libyan bribery scandal. (original + archive)
April 1, 2019 – Bill C-262 (by Romeo Saganash, NDP) to harmonize federal laws with Indigenous rights enters the second reading at the senate level. The Assembly of First Nations urges support to pass this legislation (given that Conservatives voted against it). (original + archive)
April 2, 2019 – Former Principal Secretary Gerry Butts (PMO) submits his text messages with Jody Wilson-Raybould in response to her testimony at the justice committee, and to supplement his own statement. They largely confirm both parties’ recollections that SNC Lavalin was hardly mentioned. (original + Scribd docs)
April 2, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott are ejected from the Liberal Party of Canada. The former shares an impassioned plea about remaining with the party, but the prime minister reports that trust is broken with the government caucus. (original + archive)
Wilson-Raybould urges, “… rather than letting authority be the truth, let truth be the authority.”
April 3, 2019 – Jody Wilson-Raybould attends the Daughters of the Vote event on Parliament Hill. She cites supporting the young ladies, but also ex Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell, whom she believes is an “amazing person”. (original + archive)
April 4, 2019 – Bullets are fired at the home of Toronto city councilor, John Filion, and CBC host, Anna Maria Tremonti. The event is so recent that police don’t know if the attacker was motivated by his municipal work, or possibly her coverage of Jody Wilson-Raybould. (original + archive)
April 5, 2019 – Conrad Black publishes a screed against Jody Wilson-Raybould in the National Post. He opens by accusing the former attorney general of advancing Indigenous causes at the “expense of the Canadian national interest”. Only after attacking her racial heritage does he continue with the SNC Lavalin matter. (original + archive)
For context, Conrad Black was publisher of the National Post and that newspaper was founded by fellows from the Fraser Institute, in an effort to broadcast more Conservative voices into Canadian media. This included Ezra Levant, Jon Kay, and Conservative Member of Parliament John Williamson. (original + archive)
Black cited his motivation as a response to the Globe and Mail; a publication the disgraced Lord deemed to be a Liberal platform. But the Globe and Mail has since revealed its own Conservative bias, when editor-in-chief David Walmsly overrode the editorial board’s endorsement of a Liberal government. In a haphazard fashion, it was changed to support one of the worst-performing Conservative leaders in Canadian history and silence the paper’s journalists. (original + archive)
April 5, 2019 – Now as an independent member of parliament, Jody Wilson-Raybould provides an interview to Mercedes Stephenson at Global News. The ex attorney general makes a valid point that she was never criticized or disciplined for her job performance prior to resigning from cabinet. Even as the Globe and Mail allegations broke pertaining to SNC Lavalin, the prime minister and principal secretary supported her. It therefore stands to reason that any criticism afterwards may be classified as a smear campaign. (original + archive)
Insofar as getting a fair shake from colleagues and media goes, it doesn’t appear that Mercedes Stephenson disclosed her conflict of interest with Jody Wilson-Raybould. In 2010 the journalist participated with Gerry Butts in penning a report for the G20 that praised the effect of climate change opening the Canadian Arctic for business. It was crass and harboured racist attitudes toward the Indigenous peoples and their traditional food sources. (Scribd doc)
Liberal Women Divided Over Indigenous Affairs
If you skipped it before, it would be prudent to read Jody Wilson-Raybould’s Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples now. (original + archive) It was the most important work she did at the Department of Justice and the most controversial to Conservative opponents, as well as Michael Wernick (PCO) and nail-biters in the PMO.
A full reading indicates she did not preclude government appeals against Indigenous claims, as the retired Conservative judge exclaimed. In fact, she walked an incredibly careful path to fulfill her mandate from the prime minister without hamstringing government lawyers from addressing Section 35 matters and civil litigation. Jody Wilson-Raybould did what she was instructed to accomplish. This despite opposition from Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, and misogynist whisper campaigns that she was “difficult”.
Dr. Bennett carries herself like the white saviour of Indigenous peoples and it’s plain to see she resented any lived and legal experience from Jody Wilson-Raybould. Michael Wernick (PCO) went so far as to defend Dr. Bennett’s honour in his justice committee testimony and the policy spat he revealed between the women was widely covered by the media. It’s just unfortunate the narrative was spun to impugn the former attorney general as the party who was being “difficult”. That’s an entirely different ilk of putting pressure on Wilson-Raybould, to see her name destroyed if she didn’t come to another minister’s heel. (original + archive)
Moreover, Dr. Bennett came to Michael Wernick’s defence when he was appointed by Trudeau as Clerk of the Privy Council. Previously Wernick was the Deputy Minister of Indian (sic) Affairs under the leadership of former Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper. These were cruel years to First Nations and he was part of the campaign that implemented spying and disruption tactics against Indigenous advocates. (original + archive)
Cindy Blackstock is only one example and she was tormented for filing a human rights claim as executive director of the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society. The Assembly of First Nations supported Blackstock and she eventually won in a ruling that blasted the federal government for discriminating against Indigenous children by underfunding child welfare agencies on reserves.
Wernick was tasked with an investigation into the spying allegations and he fudged a report to absolve the Conservative administration of any wrongdoing whatsoever. He was later refuted by the privacy commissioner who independently investigated and confirmed the anti-Indigenous spy campaign was in fact true. (original + archive)
In Wernick’s testimony to the justice committee, he acknowledged a policy stand-off between Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and Minister of Justice/Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. But Wernick never describes the policy they disagreed about and the only one it wouldn’t be is SNC Lavalin.
Dr. Philpott was the Minister of Indigenous Services and had to work with Dr. Bennett on the most regular basis out of all the cabinet ministers. Their jobs were related to serve the Indigenous population and both these women are physicians. But Dr. Philpott took a principled stand and supported Jody Wilson-Raybould, as an Indigenous attorney general, over Dr. Bennett and every other person in Cabinet.
Philpott repeatedly warns there is more to this story and she compels Cabinet to be honest with the Canadian people. She accuses the prime minister and his closest advisors of ‘shutting down the story’, but never reveals what part of the story she feels is being silenced.
Likewise, Jody Wilson-Raybould won’t disclose two of her conditions for staying with the party, before her unceremonious ejection occurred. The high-ranking government leakers who peddled that story to multiple news agencies won’t discuss those two conditions either.
Despite Gerry Butts tabling his text messages with Jody Wilson-Raybould, her Attorney General of Canada’s Directive on Civil Litigation Involving Indigenous Peoples is the one thing that can’t be mentioned – even though it was part of their recurring discussions and part of the justice committee evidence.
But key Conservatives are squawking about it and Micheal Wernick tried to make this directive an election issue. In some circles it’s been suggested that Jody Wilson-Raybould owed a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC Lavalin, to equalize the favoured treatment she’s been accused of giving to First Nations.
In a text conversation with the prime minister’s principal advisor, Wilson-Raybould further discusses the approval she needed from Conservative lawyers within the Department of Justice. The DOJ is supposed to be non-partisan, yet two of the highest-ranking officials in the country acknowledged needing that partisan buy-in to be able to proceed with the Indigenous directive. No one is questioning the tyranny of an attorney general needing to pacify the Opposition within the public service.
Jody Wilson-Raybould may have committed an ethical breach when she recorded Michael Wernick without informing him. It appears she may have been insubordinate when she instructed her deputy minister to withhold the legal opinion on SNC Lavalin from the Privy Council. This requires discipline.
If we were to view this situation through a tort law lens, it could be compared to a drunk driving accident. The drunk driver causes the accident, but the victim with injuries wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. In cases like these the victim is still entitled to damages, but they lose 25 percent of the settlement due to their part in the negligence for failing to wear a seatbelt. In Canadian law our judgment doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.
It’s apparent there were extenuating circumstances for Jody Wilson-Raybould and a multi-faceted political campaign to deeply undermine her. It doesn’t seem even-handed to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples along with it. The former attorney general’s Indigenous directive is at stake and this is a decisive moment in Canadian history. Whether Cabinet and mainstream media want to discuss this or not, the repercussions of excluding Wilson-Raybould for writing that directive will reverberate for decades. This also comes after the Conservative experiment with attempting to manipulate Senator Patrick Brazeau.
Dr. Philpott and Ms. Wilson-Raybould were willing to sit as back benchers and still contribute the wealth of their experience to representing constituents. Extraordinary investments were made in their professional development and it’s being wasted so a timid government can keep secrets about Indigenous issues as we head into an election. The Conservatives and NDP must not have wanted to be pigeonholed on reconciliation either, because it was their duty to know this and they chose to ignore or remain silent.
The truth of the matter with SNC Lavalin is that two executives were exonerated when everyone wasn’t looking. Lengthy court delays intervened to make this a non-issue; and the Jordan ruling may yet prevail to dismiss the case against the corporation. If SNC Lavalin is forced to trial, they could still plead political interference based on the government leakers and partisan media spectacle over the past two months, non-stop. This isn’t a justifiable reason to discourage women in politics, or sever communication with Indigenous partners.
On Warren Kinsella’s Inner Battle With Liberals
I’m well aware that Mr. Kinsella threatens lawsuits against his detractors liberally. We tangoed once before when his wife was an executive at ORNGE (the Ontario air ambulance) and that company was spectacularly scandalized. This section will begin by taking that elephant out of the room and thanking Kathleen Wynne for SLAPP legislation that was long overdue in Ontario. If Kinsella engages in silencing tactics anyway, perhaps the Ottawa bubble will pitch in for a Kickstarter campaign to fund a proper defence of press freedom. Preaching for Jody Wilson-Raybould to be allowed to speak her truth doesn’t mesh with censoring the analysts who know a thing or two about it.
It’s become necessary to address the Kinsellas because they’re ingratiating themselves to Jody Wilson-Raybould and implanting their influence in the SNC Lavalin matter. The former attorney general wouldn’t be familiar with the company she’s been keeping, or their conflict of interest with Indigenous issues that are being muffled by all the players.
Warren Kinsella projects himself as a Liberal strategist, and indeed he was integral to the Ontario McGuinty government. (archive) He was also a staffer to Jean Chrétien, who was eventually undone by Paul Martin in a Liberal family coup. McGuinty was turfed as one of the most shady administrations and these rifts within the party have never quite healed. (archive) You can gauge that damage through the behaviour of Sheila Copps, lately on social media.
Gerry Butts is the best friend of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but he was McGuinty’s principal secretary before assuming the same role with Trudeau. (archive) Both Kinsella and Butts were instrumental to the Liberal administration when the ORNGE bribery/kickback scheme was transpiring.
The maiden name of Warren’s wife is Lisa Kirbie. She was one of the most central figures to the ORNGE scandal, as the director of government relations. She handled the paperwork for ORNGE, to-and-from government, that was pivotal to the police investigation. (original + archive)
Uncovering the problems at ORNGE occurred because an issue of public safety arose for patients they were transporting. It ballooned into an alleged $4.7 million boondoggle and Kirbie was fired from the company in the course of the fallout. She was offered a severance package, but sued for more on the basis of damages for sexual harassment allegations that were filed after being terminated. (original + archive)
Before leaving the company, Kirbie secretly recorded executives in her effort to substantiate the allegations, that included holding Alfred Apps responsible for the ORNGE scandal as the “mastermind”. Apps was a lawyer for ORNGE and president of the Liberal Party of Canada. He adamantly denied Kirbie’s accusations, but was turfed as party president due to the bad press. (original + archive)
Not only did Apps leave his post at the helm of the Liberal Party, but he also resigned from Fasken Martineau. The law firm continued to represent ORNGE and Apps departed to practice with his brother. He says that departure had nothing to do with the ORNGE file. Nor has he ever been charged with an offence. (original + archive)
As a sidebar, Fasken Martineau is now representing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, to defend against libel allegations levied by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the SNC Lavalin dispute. (original + archive)
Kirbie was dating Kinsella at the time of the ORNGE scandal and they married a short while later. It’s unknown what came of her wrongful dismissal suit, but her secret recordings never resulted in criminal repercussions for the company. Only the key colleagues she worked with were terminated or resigned in kind. Their reputations were also destroyed. (original + archive)
Continuing, Warren Kinsella is one of the grandfathers of negative attack ads in Canadian politics and he is proud to defend that strategy. (archive) He is a practising lawyer in Ontario, subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct. (original) He’s the owner/operator of The Daisy Group, a political and public relations consulting firm. (archive) He’s also a Sun Media columnist, who once skirted a libel suit brought by a diplomat based on a technicality. (original + archive)
Kinsella defended Ezra Levant’s Sun News Network when the channel was closed, as a matter of press freedom that ignored the bigotry and racism it promoted. It was a sister to the Sun newspaper where Kinsella publishes and he frequently appeared on their political television programs. (archive)
Sun Media was owned by Québecor until 2015. (archive) And former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney remains Chairman of the Board at Québecor. (original + archive) Pierre Karl Péladeau is the CEO of Québecor and past CEO of Sun Media, as well as being the former Leader of the Parti Québécois. He’s best known for his political stance as a Québec separatist and ran for the PQ in a riding that is a stone’s throw from Justin Trudeau’s Liberal constituency. (archive) These are, or have been, the employers of Warren Kinsella.
On the political front, and despite Kinsella’s professed Liberal identity, he worked the John Tory municipal campaign and counts Nick Kouvalis as a best friend. (archive) John Tory is the former leader of Ontario Progressive Conservatives and in that time he ran against Dalton McGuinty for premier. (archive) Nick Kouvalis ran Kellie Leitch’s campaign for leadership of the federal Conservatives, that was widely denounced for racism, Islamophobia, and the pursuit of a snitch line. (archive) He also has a criminal record for drunk driving and an incident related to a different Conservative campaign. (archive) The beef between Canadian media and Kouvalis is that he embraced and defended the spread of fake news, as a source that gleefully libelled Justin Trudeau. (archive)
On April 1, 2019 Kinsella and Kouvalis collaborated again, for the purpose of a Sun News article that was a takedown of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Kinsella promoted Kouvalis as a trustworthy authority, and among their comments was a nod to #Gropegate (wherein Trudeau was accused of inappropriately touching a reporter). They further noted that PMJT can only win the impending election if he picks up more votes in Québec. Coincidentally, that’s where SNC Lavalin is located. (archive)
But in that article Kinsella forgot to disclose that he was the source of #Gropegate. He forgot to disclose that he advised one of Kent Hehr’s accusers, while also writing extensively about that #MeToo scandal that resulted in Hehr’s removal from the federal Liberal Cabinet. (archive)
Although Warren Kinsella vows he is a Liberal strategist, he has a history of batting for more than one team and sniping out more high profile Liberals than the Opposition could dream of. He was ejected from the Olivia Chow mayoral campaign and the feeling was apparently mutual. (archive) He’s attempting to assist the Conservative’s Andrew Scheer in the current election against Trudeau. (archive) In the Hill Times he’s attempting to assist the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh. (archive) All the while Kinsella claims to be close enough to the PMO to know that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney is the (Conservative) leader that Trudeau speaks with most frequently. (archive)
He even harbours ill feelings toward former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin and former Liberal Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. For the record, it was Martin who recruited Jody Wilson-Raybould on behalf of Justin Trudeau. (archive)
Kinsella has an interesting take on what constitutes a conflict of interest, but none could be more concerning than his precarious situation and attitude toward Indigenous matters.
In celebrating the Daisy Group’s 10-year anniversary, Kinsella boasted about some of his clients. They include: all levels of the Liberal Party, bar associations, law firms, the Department of Justice (where Jody Wilson-Raybould used to work), Indian (sic) Affairs (where Michael Wernick used to work), and a couple of First Nations. (archive)
Warren Kinsella fathered a child from the Carcross Tagish First Nation. He’s deleted most entries that cited his daughter, but kept one published that notes the reserve’s recent support for Jody Wilson-Raybould. (archive)
Other entries on Kinsella’s personal website that reference his Indigenous daughter are deleted from 2012, during Stephen Harper’s tenure. The following titles are no longer available:
Aug 2012 – In Carcross Tagish Territory Tonight
Sept 2012 – CTFN: This Is My Daughter’s First Nation
More recently he deleted an entry about his wife’s involvement with Jody Wilson-Raybould, surrounding her justice committee testimony. Now missing from the site is this title:
It should be noted that Lisa Kinsella joined the Daisy Group as a managing partner after leaving ORNGE. She’s originally from British Columbia, where Jody Wilson-Raybould calls home.
So Warren Kinsella and the Daisy Group have professionally represented First Nations, including the one where his daughter resides. (archive) But he also claims to have been an advisor to former prime ministers Chrétien, Martin, and Harper on Indigenous issues and doesn’t see it as a conflict of interest. Representing the government’s Indian (sic) Affairs didn’t ring any warning bells either. (archive)
To read the tone of Kinsella’s sentiments toward Indigenous peoples is confusing at best. He sympathizes with their suffering, yet also claims that Indigenous leaders bear much responsibility for the ongoing crises. He wields accusations that have been decried as racist, such as blaming elders for misappropriating their government reparations. For example, Kinsella took a hard line against Attawapiskat and Chief Theresa Spence. (archive)
He further describes his position at the Daisy Group as a government and public relations consultant who is “living in spin” and an “apprentice of the dark arts”. (archive)
On the serious side however, the Carcross Tagish First Nation is where the Klondike Gold Rush began. It was also one of the first Indigenous reserves converted to a fee simple municipality, as the Harper Conservatives formed government. The negotiations transpired under Paul Martin’s Liberals and came into effect in 2006. The agreement extinguished Indigenous rights in many regards and opened their land for mining, akin to SNC Lavalin interests. It also brought them into the Canadian taxation schedule. (original government link + downloadable PDF, 583 pages)
Warren Kinsella failed to see the irony when his daughter’s First Nation, the one that he represented, gave him a carving of a shark turning into a man. (archive)
Within six years of signing onto the fee simple municipality structure, the Carcross Tagish First Nation was fighting to change the agreement. A number of clauses in the settlement with government prevent that from happening, however. (original + archive)
The client list at Daisy Group is full of potential conflicts, between groups and governments, First Nations and governments, as well as various businesses and governments. Unfortunately Warren Kinsella’s policy to deal with these conflicts is not as prominently featured. (archive)
What Kinsella did to silence his detractors is possibly just as alarming. He sued Twitter because the social media giant didn’t remove a post that was critical of his adventures. Instead of going after the commentator for libel and proving the allegation, he forced Twitter to settle with him or face the prospect of setting a legal precedent that would undoubtedly affect its investors. Twitter settled with Kinsella for $200,000. (original + archive)
And then, somehow, Twitter became a Daisy Group client. (archive)
Only Jody Wilson-Raybould knows if the Kinsellas disclosed these details to her. Only she can tell us if she was aware that the attorney general’s Indigenous directive conflicts with the fee simple approach. Regardless of her knowledge though, SNC Lavalin has an interest in the way this plays out.
Potential Legal Consequences For Canada & Canadian Journalism
A number of leaks have now occurred from the highest levels of the Canadian government. Whether it’s about the policy on deferred prosecution agreements, deliberations for a Supreme Court judge, the Khadr settlement (archive), or Jody Wilson-Raybould’s conditions to Cabinet, only the PMO, PCO, or Department of Justice could be responsible for them. A campaign to remove the attorney general couldn’t be more clear and two of the people who aren’t behind this are Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau.
But as a country we are nonetheless facing a severe security breach. It must be investigated to resolve the integrity of the federal government and the sanctity of operations – especially with an election approaching. That would mean trying to obtain records from journalists that are supposed to be protected, to determine the identity of leakers.
Recently Vice News was responsible for setting a precedent that already stripped away journalists’ ability to protect sources, unless they are anonymous. As expected, the Canadian media resorted to using only anonymous sources after that decision. But now we have a national security risk that can only be mitigated by chipping away at what was left of press freedom and the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada may become responsible for managing that outcome. (original + archive)
It is with great regret that I bring this to everyone’s attention. The reason I’ve done this is to spark a genuine, adult conversation about the consequential issues that are going on behind the superficial headlines. So long as we continue to believe the problem is over a DPA with SNC Lavalin, we will continue to fail at addressing these substantive threats to the Canadian – Indigenous relationship.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his lifelong friend, Gerald Butts, enjoy seeking sage advice in historical and contemporary literature. On that note this dispatch will close with a few words of that nature.
“The willingness to change one’s mind in the light of new evidence is the sign of rationality, not weakness.” Stuart Sutherland
(Full disclosure: When I took time off from journalism, I was the director of a federal Liberal riding association – the one that had to contend with Conservative Kellie Leitch. I have never participated in politics while reporting on them and my ethical values on managing conflicts of interest are set in stone. I guest lecture on matters of ethics and the partisan effect on press freedom, and I’ve been an advisor to the Inter American Press Association. I even managed to score myself a spot on Stephen Harper’s so-called ‘Enemy List’. I believe journalists have a fundamental right to vote and be knowledgeable about the issues, but that we cannot wear two hats at the same time and exploit our personal experiences for professional gain.)
Will the Ethics Minister Investigate this MP’s Failure to Disclose Her Income?
Surprising developments continue to challenge the Harper government and it doesn’t appear the recent cabinet shuffle was enough to contain the party’s troubles. In July, the prime minister embarked on a public relations makeover to soften the blow from repeated allegations of criminal activity and impropriety against a growing number of Conservatives.
To quell chatter about Duffy and the senate spending scandal — followed by charges against Del Mastro, the Prime Minister appointed a fresh batch of faces to populate his inner circle. In this rejuvenation process, a faithful MP from Simcoe-Grey was promoted to Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women. It seemed a safe bet, as the member was not only a minority female but also a paediatric surgeon who proved her loyalty by supporting the export of asbestos. Surely her silence in the face of criticism from the health care industry could merit responsibility for two portfolios in a beleaguered government.
Doubly minted Minister Kellie Leitch keeps a low profile with the local public, but she’s been a staple in the Conservative party since the days of her youth. The doctor wasn’t familiar to residents of Simcoe-Grey until the 2011 federal election, because she normally hailed from Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto and the University of Western Ontario in London. Leitch’s life was centred many hours away and she survived this controversy with stellar endorsements from CPC stars like Jim Flaherty, Peter MacKay, Hugh Segal, Julian Fantino and Stephen Harper. The campaigning efforts of Pamela Wallin weren’t quite as glowing, since her visits have become a point of contention in the senate investigation (see April 26 and 29, expanded to include Jan. 17).
This prominent attention must have felt remarkable. In a rural region known for farming and rustic getaways, the area was transformed into a political Hollywood for the election. The only caveat is it required this much effort to help Leitch overcome the toxic atmosphere she was about to inherit. Her predecessor in Simcoe-Grey was also a Minister for the Status of Women, but Helena Guergis was in the process of being turfed as her replacement was parachuted by the Prime Minister. It was a timely campaign of false and tawdry allegations. Ms. Guergis saw her career destroyed to create a vacancy in the riding and much of the local executive quit to protest their loss of democracy.
Amid the many accusations against Kellie Leitch, it became apparent she would need to open up and endear herself to the locals. In a rare interview with the tiny Wasaga Beach newspaper, a limited number of constituents received a glimpse into the world of our prospective Labour Minister. This included a rare epiphany explaining just how far she traveled. In her own words, Kellie Leitch professes it wasn’t in her plans to become a doctor and she was keen to build on her father’s legacy as a founder of Fort McMurray.
The Alberta oil sands are more than a stone’s throw from the shores of central Ontario and according to Leitch, her family should be credited with bringing the oil rush to Canada because they’re the ones who built the infrastructure to make the harvest area inhabitable. This MP was proud of the environment she helped create, despite Neil Young’s comparison of Fort McMurray to Hiroshima. Of course the latter was banned from the former’s radio station, so perhaps Minister Leitch will never hear about the opposition.
This brings us to the ethical hurdles facing the Conservative party and whether Harper’s judgement would improve in time for the cabinet shuffle, meant to save the government’s reputation. These new ministers should be impervious to criticism, or rather investigation. Ideally they would lead the way by filing items properly and insulate the Canadian Parliament from any more questions of fraud or conflicts of interest. Or contempt. Or bribery. Or voter suppression. Or criminal charges. With such a turbulent track record, it only seems reasonable the Prime Minister would benefit from hindsight and wisdom in selecting his next executives.
It was previously reported that Minister Leitch was in good standing with the Ethics Commissioner and she did not declare any additional income in her report for the public registry. This is the information she provided to media in a congenial, receptive email. But that registry and the Canadian Securities Regulators at Sedar appear to have a different opinion.
The following is a public version of events, expressed in a timeline with commentary:
May 4, 2010 — Kellie Leitch causes a stir with Conservatives in Simcoe-Grey, when she attends private meetings as a star candidate who was parachuted from Toronto.
May 6, 2010 — Kellie Leitch becomes a paid trustee at Dundee REIT (see also May 10, 2010 – report of voting results). As part of a Declaration of Trust, she must agree to a non-competition clause with the company. She is not permitted to acquire an interest, even indirectly from commercial real estate, without first allowing Dundee the option of purchasing said investment (see page 37).
Dundee REIT is a subsidiary of Dundee Corporation and Ned Goodman is the owner, occupying a seat at the same table as MP Leitch. Mr. Goodman is better known as one of the richest people in Canada (see page 18). The REIT is better known for its main accounts, as landlord to the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, Government of British Columbia, Government of Alberta, Government of Saskatchewan, Government of Quebec, Government of Northwest Territories, Enbridge Pipelines and SNC Lavalin. This is in addition to the Canada Revenue Agency, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Cities of Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta Health Services, CAE and Ministry of the Attorney General (see page 20).
In media it’s not mentioned that Dundee REIT is behind the Toronto Pan Am village, but annual filings detail the company’s $15 million investment, with an expected profit of $50 million when the properties are finally sold (see page 12).
In the same report Mr. Goodman shares his executive insight with underlings like Minister Leitch. He says,
“Inflation is a certainty because without any other reasons, and there are many, it is a political and financial tool that allows for de-leveraging of debt and payment of deficits. In addition, politicians very seldom get elected by causing deflation. Almost everyone likes inflation. If you are a government and inflate prices, then you keep people struggling and working hard to keep pace with inflation. The poorer the people are, the more likely they can be kept under control. In addition, inflation for rich people is taxable and deflation is less so. No government ever has an incentive to deflate, but has incentive in fact to inflate. Voters prefer inflation to deflation.” (seepage 19)
He would have said this while also acting as the Chancellor of Brock University.
May 10, 2010 — The appointment of Dr. Leitch to Dundee REIT is confirmed by Sedar.com (see May 10, 2010, report of voting results).
May 2010 — Kellie Leitch is slated to receive 4,607 deferred REIT units for her services as a trustee in the first year (see April 18, 2011, management information circular – within report, view page 6). Her access to sensitive information about the company and advice from owners like Mr. Goodman is granted (view page 9). The compensation structure is outlined and as a trustee, Dr. Leitch will play a role in determining these amounts, including the amount of payment due to Mr. Goodman and approval of deferred units like she received (view pages 12-13). In addition to receiving property investments and a personal stake in government tenants, Leitch receives $21,000 in cash for meeting fees (see page 18). It’s important to understand this compensation was negotiated at the onset, but actual payment would be received into the next year. The deferred units go through a 5 year vesting period, with parts maturing at each anniversary. This would provide Dr. Leitch with steady income for a minimum of 5 years (view page 16).
May 2010 — Dundee REIT confirms it will invest $20 million to construct a building for the Government of Canada in Yellowknife, fully leased to the government for 10 years (see May 6, 2010, interim financial statements – within report, view page 21).
December 31, 2010 — Kellie Leitch is confirmed to receive $21,000 in cash, for her services at Dundee REIT (see page 18).
March 21, 2011 — Much of the Conservative riding executive quits in Simcoe-Grey, due to the ouster of Helena Guergis and the parachuting of Kellie Leitch.
March 31, 2011 — As Defence Minister, Peter MacKay visits the riding of Simcoe-Grey to campaign on behalf of Dr. Leitch. On the same day, Dundee REIT releases a business update to Sedar.com that includes important information about its trustees. Leitch is legally reported to live in the municipality of Toronto (see March 31, 2011 – annual information form – within report, view pages 30, 31). This supports the accusation that she was parachuted to another riding.
April 12, 2011 — Leitch’s business partner and Dundee Corporation owner, Ned Goodman,purchases considerable interest in resource extraction from the Ring of Fire – a point of deep contention for Northern Ontario Native communities.
April 19, 2011 — Peter Cosgrove donates $1,000 to the election campaign of Kellie Leitch (see entry 29). If this was a misspelling, a fellow trustee at Dundee REIT also goes by the name of Peter Cossgrove.
May 2, 2011 — Michael Knowlton donates $250 to the election campaign of Kellie Leitch (see entry 69). He was the president, COO, executive vice president and CFO at Dundee REIT. He made this contribution two weeks before retiring from the president’s position.
Most donations were recorded at the last minute. Forty per cent arrived on Election Day and this indicates Leitch was in contact with her business partners from Toronto, while the riding of Simcoe-Grey was busy voting. No trustees at Dundee REIT are residents of this riding, according to available financial records. In addition to these individuals, the majority of political donors hail from the Toronto area and their contributions were accepted on May 2, 2011.
The return submitted to Elections Canada includes donor names such as Lara Zink (136),Dori Segal (106), David R. Wingfield (133), Kevin Warn-Schindel (128), Linda Rorabeck(100), Lori Turik (122), Kim Shannon (107), Michael S. Ras (95), Partick Meneley (83),Frank Magliocco (77), Onorio Lucchese (75), Blair Levinsky (73), William E. Lardner (71),Landon French (49), Victor Dodig (40), Bradley Cutsey (34), William J. Corcoran (28) andRita Ciccolini. It is this calibre of GTA powerhouses that funded an election campaign in rural Ontario.
(To view a candidate’s return within the Elections Canada database, a fresh search must be performed. Once the information for Leitch, Kellie, in the riding of Simcoe–Grey is displayed, select Form 2A to browse donations. Screen captures of this information are also provided below. Please be advised there is nothing improper about the donations, but they did arise from out of town, predominantly on the day of election.)
May 2, 2011 — Kellie Leitch is elected Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey, defeating Helena Guergis as a new face for the Conservatives.
May 12, 2011 — Ten days after the election, MP Leitch accepts paid re-appointment to the Board of Trustees at Dundee REIT (see May 16, 2011 — report of voting results). This happened at a specially scheduled event, in the Toronto Board of Trade, East Ballroom. It would have been clear to everyone that Kellie Leitch was celebrating her election, when she accepted their overtures to oversee a business that relied heavily on the favour of federal government (see pages 1, 6).
May 16, 2011 — Kellie Leitch is recorded in the Canada Gazette as being elected to Parliament. According to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, she has 60 days from this moment to file her private interests with the Ethics Commissioner for inspection. Since Dr. Leitch was immediately appointed to parliamentary secretary, her ability to engage in private employment would not have been appropriate (seeitem 7). She would not have been able to engage in contracts with the government for which she received benefit, without the Commissioner’s permission and only if the arrangement wouldn’t affect her parliamentary obligations (see items 16, 17, 18). MP Leitch was also required to disclose any income greater than $1,000, including its source, for the 12 months preceding election (see item 21).
May 25, 2011 — MP Leitch is appointed to parliamentary secretary by the Prime Minister.
July 16, 2011 — MP Leitch was due to submit her disclosure of private income and conflicts of interest to the Ethics Commissioner, in keeping with the 60 day mandate. She failed to do this within the required time and remained engaged with Dundee REIT as a parliamentary secretary.
August 15, 2011 — Dundee REIT acquires the Blackstone portfolio for $703 million (seepage 23). It was the largest portfolio ever purchased by a REIT in Canada and this transaction contained significant addresses in the heart of Toronto’s financial district (Bay Street).
2011 — Dundee REIT becomes landlord to the National Energy Board, numerous oil and resource companies, WSIB and Government Services for the Department of National Defence (see pages 20-26). Due to the nature of their tenants, Dundee’s liability for environmental protection and the cost of remediating contaminated sites is considered (seepage 27).
September 22, 2011 — Parliamentary Secretary Leitch resigns from her position at Dundee REIT. The company attributes this departure to her successful election nearly five months earlier. They note she attended four of five regularly scheduled meetings, meaning it’s probable that some of them occurred while she was a Member of Parliament — unless all the company’s business was conducted prior to May 2nd and the federal election. Leitch accepted remuneration for her service in 2011, in the form of $6,000 cash, 35,000 REIT units and 110,000 deferred REIT units, for a reported value of $151,600 (see April 11, 2012 –management information circular – within report, view page 20 – or see alternate source atpage 20, here).
September 26, 2011 — MP Leitch discloses her private interests to the Ethics Commissioner on the public registry. She reports a blind trust and income from the University of Toronto, University of Western and the Ministry of Health. She does not report the $21,000 plus $6,000 received in cash, for her previous twelve months at Dundee REIT, or the current term. She does not report her significant interest in the company’s contracts with government tenants or the oil and resource industries. In fact, there is no mention of Dundee REIT, even though this report is filed four days after resigning the private position and two months after the parliamentary due date.
September 29, 2011 — Three days later, MP Leitch makes a correction to her Ethics disclosure. This time she adds ownership of the Khristinn Kellie Leitch Medicine Professional Corporation, but still there is no mention of Dundee REIT.
2010 – 2011 — During the first year of Dr. Leitch’s tenure at Dundee REIT in 2010, the Government of Canada leased 333,187 square feet from the company (see page 21). Although she was elected to Parliament in May 2011, MP Leitch didn’t resign the position with Dundee until the end of September. During this period of dual representation, the Government of Canada became the company’s largest tenant, increasing their lease to 1,209,973 square feet in 2011 (see page 19). That’s an unprecedented increase in the company’s history of 263 percent, around the same time this parliamentary secretary was working for both entities. Since her departure from Dundee REIT, the federal government expanded their account to 1,658,129 square feet.
2012 — Dundee REIT releases an annual report that cites considerable political influence on their business ventures (see page 44).
As the current Minister of Labour, Kellie Leitch could impact the employment concerns of Dundee REIT. She will continue to receive income until her payment cycle completes in 2016, with incentive to meet their needs. There is no concern from government to abstain from voting in parliament, on matters that affect the company or any of the tenants. There is no mention of the environmental pressures to keep many of these clients profitable. The REIT units owned by the minister are more than security investments and there is nothing to indicate the Ethics Commissioner identifies these holdings as remuneration. Minister Leitch could choose between cash and securities, opting for the latter as a lion’s share of compensation. This relationship is further complicated by Dundee’s political interest in the outcome of government decisions from a number of different perspectives.
January 17, 2012 — Dundee completes their acquisition of the Whiterock portfolio, becoming a landlord to the Government of New Brunswick, Government of Nova Scotia, Quebec public health, Air Canada, provincial hydro organizations, the US Bank, TD Canada Trust, Royal Bank, Molson, PEI Liquor Control Commission, Nova Scotia Liquor Corp and the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (see last pages, B-1 to B-4).
February 14, 2013 — MP Leitch makes the last update to her ethics disclosure file. This time she adds publicly traded securities and an extra blind trust to the assets column. It’s likely these securities arise from her payment at Dundee REIT; but still there is no cash declared, no mention of remuneration and no mention of the company or its interests.
July 15, 2013 — MP Leitch is appointed to Minister of Labour and Minister of the Status of Women.
Minister Leitch has been contacted for comment, but none has been forthcoming. The only question that remains is if the commissioner will evaluate these potential conflicts of interest, the primary address of MP Leitch on Election Day and the apparent failure to disclose earned income.
***February 13, 2014 UPDATE: It is now known that MP Leitch donated to the Rob Ford election campaign. In his financial documents, it lists her home address in the City of Toronto. FreeThePressCanada will not disclose the exact location, but the election documents are a matter of public record, stored online.
Part II: Where Your CPP Money Really Goes
In part one of this two-part series, we examined the Canada Pension Plan’s (CPP) investment in drones, computerized soldiers, land occupation and an infamous prison scandal. Part two is dedicated to the many potential conflicts of interest — yours, mine, the executives’ and the PMO’s. Some might be moral. Some might be something more.
If you look at the CPP Investment Board of Directors, you will find that all but one executive was appointed since the determined change in strategy under the Harper government. These board members are skilled leaders from different industries, but no matter their background, most of them share something in common.
Ian Bourne is Chief Executive Officer of SNC-Lavalin. CPP invested $21 million in SNC-Lavalin in spite of the company being plagued by ties to the Gadhafi regime and fraud charges that are still winding through the courts.
Bourne is also the Director of Canadian Oil Sands Limited, which has a large stake in the Syncrude project — the project at the heart of a lawsuit involving Greenpeace and the death of wildlife. Syncrude was convicted and fined more than half a million dollars. Our CPP investments in this company total $80 million.
David Suzuki continues to educate about the misnomers of “ethical oil” and points to other companies in business with the Alberta oil sands. Exxon Mobil has a history of major oil spills. CPP gave them $553 million. Exxon funded a lobby against the Kyoto Protocol, and Canada eventually cancelled our commitment to the international community.
BP is responsible for the tragic Gulf Coast oil spill that may cost more than $7 billion in legal settlements to cover the damage. And if we look in our CPP foreign column, we’ll find $347 million invested in BP.
Nexen is another curious entry with $62 million in CPP investments. It’s unclear what will happen to this particular investment, since Harper made waves by allowing the company to be purchased by China. The deal was embroiled in controversy regarding national security. CSIS raised concerns about compromising Canadian intelligence, while the United States rebuked the purchaser’s energy partnership with Iran. Still, it went unreported that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had to freeze assets to investigate cases of Nexen insider trading that resulted from our sell-off.
CPP also has $218 million invested in TransCanada Corp. They’re the ones fighting for the Keystone XL pipeline that was met with public backlash across the continent. We have another $201 million socked away in Enbridge, which has challenged Native land rights in preparation for the Northern Gateway pipeline.
Moving along in our Board of Directors, we arrive at Pierre Choquette was the CEO of Methanex. Douglas W. Mahaffy is the current director of Methanex. This company is the world’s largest producer of methanol for petrochemical use. It received $38 million from CPP. Choquette further served as a director at TELUS, which received $116 million from CPP. TELUS employs two former consultants linked to the E-Health scandal that rocked Ontario.
Heather Monroe-Blum sits on the Board of Directors for the Royal Bank of Canada. RBC received $707 million from CPP and is the Plan’s largest domestic holding. That’s putting a lot of our eggs in one basket, which seems unwise, especially when that one company has been implicated in the LIBOR scandal .
Karen Sheriff heads Bell Aliant as the CEO and president. CPP invested $21 million with that company. Joe Mark Zurel is listed as the Director of Major Drilling Group, which also received $12 million from CPP. Nancy Hopkins is the Director of Cameco Corporation. CPP invested $43 million there. Robert Brooks was the Vice Chair of Scotiabank. CPP invested $537 million in the company. Brooks also headed Dundee Wealth and CPP invested $20 million with Dundee’s parent company.
In addition to these revelations, the CPP is a substantial partner of Onex. The Onex Corporation purchased Raytheon’s air division in 2006. Raytheon is a defence contractor. It’s the world’s largest producer of guided missiles and nuclear warheads. These weapons are involved in conflicts from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Libya to Syria and everywhere the U.S. military sets foot. The acquisition of Raytheon’s flight technology created the Hawker Beechcraft company, putting Onex in the business of peddling combat planes to governments.
The managing director of Onex was Nigel Wright. He took leave from the position to become our Prime Minister’s chief of staff, exactly two months after CPP entered a multi-billion dollar partnership with his company. While the Conservatives called this “great news for Canada’s economic policy,” the NDP’s Charlie Angus cautioned Wright to “follow the rules” regarding conflict interest.
Wright was recently cleared in an ethics probe about the same issue with Barrick Gold (in which CPP holds a $330 million stake). The founding family of Barrick sat on the Onex board of directors and there were questions about personal lobbying that could have led to the PMO.
Despite the investigation’s positive outcome for Wright, MP Angus took issue with the commissioner’s process. When additional conflict issues were raised by OMERS, they were dismissed as mistakes in a hasty response from the Prime Minister on Wright’s behalf.
As we’ve seen, Harper’s chief of staff is also connected to Lockheed Martin (incidentally CPP holds $78 million in that company as well). Nigel Wright’s duties as director of Onex included oversight of Hawker Beechcraft, the partner to Lockheed Martin, which produced the fighter jets at the centre of F-35 debacle. This places the CPP in a bizarre love triangle with Onex and Lockheed, well beyond anything we purchased in stock.
Hawker Beechcraft’s Onex deals with Lockheed include supplying the US Air Force and Homeland Security with cannon equipped fighter jets. They produce a handful of warplanes with rocket capability and their accounts include the Canadian, American, Greek, Israeli, Iraqi, Moroccan and Mexican military. One of the shared executives (PDF) managed the Lockheed F-35 file before coming to head government relations at Onex’s Hawker Beechcraft.
So that introduces our business partner.
In July 2010, CPP and Onex purchased Tomkins PLC together, for $4.5 billion (£2.9 billion) with our retirement dollars. We are equally listed owners and our acquisition provides hydraulics to the oil, gas and mining industries. Tomkins was also the previous owner of Smith and Wesson guns before we bought them out.
In November 2012 CPP deepened its relationship with Onex to acquire Tomkins Air Distribution for an additional $1.1 billion (PDF); meaning when Nigel Wright leaves his position with the Prime Minister’s Office, he’ll presumably return to managing our CPP partnership from the private industry end.
With the 2012 expansion, Onex and the CPP came to own all subsidiaries under the parent heading. One of those spinoffs is Titus, a company that provides data security to the military in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Belgium and Denmark. Titus provides services to the whole of government, aerospace, police and financial industries.
The moral of the story is we’ve got to come clean about the unethical use of our retirement funds. There isn’t enough money to expand CPP because the surplus was earmarked to boost the military-industrial complex. When our hard-earned money isn’t being used to cause bloodshed, it’s going to companies affiliated with the CPP’s own CEOs and the Alberta oil sands.