SNC-LAVALIN INC. – A TALE OF CORRUPTION IN BIG BUSINESS AND COVER UPS
Use the “BACK” button in your web browser to return to this page, after clicking on any of the active links.
By: Robert T. Chisholm Date: November 24th, 2013
This is about Canadian corporate greed, corruption in business, injustice and denial of Charter rights to life and security of the person directed at Robert Chisholm by SNC-Lavalin Inc. and their predecessor company The SNC Group (prior to 1995). Until now, it has been effectively covered up because of persistent refusal by the Canadian mainstream media to investigate and report when Mr. Chisholm approached them. The SNC Group took over Lavalin Inc. in 1991. The merged company was re-named “SNC-Lavalin Inc.” in 1995, by then-President and C.E.O. Guy Saint-Pierre, as noted below.
From this point on, when the abbreviation “SNC” is used it may refer either to The SNC Group (prior to May 1995) or to SNC-Lavalin Inc. (after May 1995)
This is also about inequality, in all its aspects - inequality before the justice system (notwithstanding the Charter rights in Canada concerning equality before the law), a Contract of Employment "fiddle", wrongful dismissal and mismanagement of the economy so as to produce the "right" environment for SNC, their lawyers and government bureaucrats, to carry on the behaviours described and then cover them up. A key factor in this was the money available to SNC to feed to their lawyers. Another key factor was the failure of the federal government and the Quebec government to support Mr. Chisholm in any way following his wrongful dismissal by SNC in July 1982.
In 1981/82, SNC hired Mr. Chisholm from the U.K., working as a professional engineer, during a recruiting campaign in the U.K. In July 1981 following an interview in London, England, he was offered a job at the company’s head office in Montreal, Quebec to work on oil industry projects which were active at the time. Based on the offer, which he accepted, this appeared to be a permanent job to last at least 24 months.
15 weeks after commencing work he was laid off and then was shocked to find that he could not even get unemployment insurance benefits on account of not having worked for the minimum 20 weeks then required to be eligible, as a “new entrant” to the Canadian work force. He was told nothing about this “20 week rule” by the company or anybody else prior to arriving in Canada. For this and other reasons he was forced to sue the company for wrongful dismissal. After many delays for frivolous reasons instigated by SNC’s lawyers, the case only got to Court in 1991 – over 8 years after commencing legal action. The court found in Mr. Chisholm’s favour but the company initially refused to pay; as a result, they had an entire floor of office furniture seized and then sold from their downtown Montreal H.Q. When they still refused to pay, they had their Bank Account at the Royal Bank of Canada seized and then they paid up a few weeks later. The settlement was small and right from the start SNC clearly behaved in the manner described for the purpose of constantly forcing up Mr. Chisholm’s legal bills in an attempt to bankrupt him. Three of the lawyers at the Montreal law firm of Dunton Rainville involved in creating this mess were Maître Marc de Wever, Maître Brigitte Charron and Maître Paul Andre Martel. The first two have since been appointed Judges in Quebec Superior Court. It is clear from one of the Court documents that Maître Paul Andre Martel, who is still practicing at Dunton Rainville, was involved in allowing the furniture seizure and bank account seizure to happen. It is also clear that this was purely for the purpose of causing more delays and forcing up Mr. Chisholm’s legal bills; it also involved a claim by Dunton Rainville that they had to hold back 30% of the judgement to cover an income tax amount for which they falsely alleged that Mr. Chisholm was responsible. At the time of the furniture seizure and Bank Account seizure, SNC were in the middle of taking over Lavalin Inc. – who, at the time, were twice SNC’s size and were their main competitor in Canada. SNC paid a reported $90 million to purchase Lavalin’s assets from the consortium of 8 banks which had seized them after Lavalin Inc., had got into financial trouble. SNC’s then-President and C.E.O., Guy Saint-Pierre, was also a Director of the Royal Bank (see extract from 1991 Annual Report and extract from 1990 Annual Report) and was still kept on as such by then-Royal Bank President and C.E.O. Allan R. Taylor and his nominated successor John E. Cleghorn - notwithstanding the fact that both were told in writing, and with supporting documents, about the behaviour of Guy Saint-Pierre and SNC - leading to the furniture seizure and bank account seizure already referred to.
EFFORTS BY THE SNC GROUP AND THEIR OFFICERS TO HAVE THEMSELVES PORTRAYED FAVOURABLY IN THE PUBLIC EYE
Among other things, this has been apparent from continual reports of better and better profits, fund-raising for “good causes” (such as the United Way) and Order of Canada awards to Guy Saint-Pierre and other officers of the company. Some instances of this sort of thing were:-
■ In 1985, SNC’s then-President and C.E.O. Jean-Paul Gourdeau co-chaired the 1985 Centraide fund-raising campaign and got his picture in the Montreal Gazette when his co-chairmanship was announced, along with the 1985 fund raising target of $17 million. He got more publicity later, when the campaign concluded with the target of $17 million being exceeded.
(Centraide is the Montreal, Quebec branch of The United Way, a charitable fund-raising organization known throughout North America)
■ SNC had themselves written up in the first edition of ‘’The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Canada’’ – a book published in March 1986. Soon after that, they exploited this on at least two occasions - March 22nd 1986 and April 12th 1986 - in recruiting advertisements in the Montreal Gazette newspaper. At the same time, SNC themselves chose the people who were to be interviewed by the authors of the book, a sampling method which SNC could have exploited to select people who could be persuaded to generate impressions favourable to SNC. At the time, SNC’s President and C.E.O. was Jean Paul Gourdeau. Among other things, the 1986 edition of the book said that “…the company is considerate, and this applies even to the way layoffs are handled…..”. Mr. Chisholm has an original copy of the book referred to, among other documents to support any and all things that he has said or will say about SNC. Then - based on later research between 1986 and 1991-The SNC Group and other companies identified in the 1986 edition were excluded from a later edition published in 1991.
■ Guy Saint-Pierre co-chaired Centraide's 1991 fund-raising campaign, and then exploited this and the results of the campaign to boost his own image and that of SNC in SNC’s 1991 Annual Report (released in March 1992), specifically in the ‘’Report to Shareholders’’ section. This took place after he allowed SNC’s Royal Bank account to be seized by Mr. Chisholm’s lawyers for non-payment of his wrongful dismissal Court judgement, which also coincided with SNC taking over Lavalin Inc. and paying out $90 million to purchase Lavalin Inc.’s assets from the consortium of banks that had seized them.
■ Guy Saint-Pierre was then elected to the Order of Canada in 1992 - even after Mr. Chisholm complained – with supporting documents - to both the Governor General and the Advisory Council on Awards about his questionable behaviour.
■ Between 1993 and 1994 SNC were involved, along with the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, in researching and producing a report – ‘’From Potential to Prosperity’’ (see page 12), aimed at solving unemployment and human resources-related problems in the industry, whilst totally ignoring a similar proposal from Mr. Chisholm - which was part of his proposed formula at that time for an out-of court settlement between him and SNC on account of SNC’s questionable behaviours ( now exposed on his web site at www.exposethismuck.com ) The questionable behaviours exposed on his web site could not be included in his wrongful dismissal suit, which was a civil suit; if the said questionable behaviours were to be brought before a court of law, he would have had to institute criminal proceedings but had no access to any funding to pursue this.
■ Both Jean-Paul Gourdeau and Guy Saint-Pierre managed SNC in a questionable manner with respect to shareholders, specifically by using the internal management system in SNC to select employee shareholders, allocating employee shareholders 15 votes each compared to only 1 for non-employee shareholders. This led to complaints when dismissed employees found their influence at shareholder meetings suddenly reduced by a factor of 15.
■ Guy Saint-Pierre, an engineer from SNC, seemingly gave a job to John E. Cleghorn – a banker from the Royal Bank – whilst John E. Cleghorn, the banker, seemingly gave a job to Guy Saint-Pierre, the engineer. It seems that in Canada, contacts and political influence are everything, whilst Canadian employers of engineers routinely refuse to employ foreign-trained engineers including some from the U.K.
■ On March 26th 1999, then-federal Finance Minister Paul Martin announced the appointment of Guy Saint-Pierre, (then) Chairman of the Board of SNC, as the 1999 National Campaign Chair for the New Canada Savings Bonds Payroll Program. Mr. Saint-Pierre became the second National Campaign Chair and follows L.R. Wilson, Chairman of the Board, BCE Inc., whose term ended March 31, 1999.
■ Guy Saint-Pierre was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003 and was described at the time as ‘’….one of Canada’s most respected business leaders….’’.
■ Guy Saint-Pierre was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Ottawa in 2002 and was described on their web site as follows :- ‘’…Saint-Pierre is recognized for his exceptional business acumen and his forthrightness. He is most admired for being a man of his word and a man of action, which is reflected in his level of success.” The complete citation from 2002 says, among other things:-
‘’ While working as an engineer, he has also been able to repeatedly demonstrate his abilities as a manager and administrator and to gain the confidence of many who have become close colleagues over the years.
Since August 1, 2001, Guy Saint-Pierre has been the Chairman of the Board of the Royal Bank of Canada. When he assumed this position, he marked an historic first: the first francophone Quebecer to be appointed. Despite this rather extraordinary fact, his appointment to the chair was a surprise to absolutely nobody. By the same token, he is also the first engineer to be Chairman of the Royal Bank. “
■ In 2008 Guy Saint-Pierre was Co-Chair of a fund-raising campaign, then known as the "Dignity Campaign", for St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, and was a "Mentor" for the Pierre Trudeau foundation in 2010.
Quote from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation website: -
“The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation develops and promotes ideas and innovation in the social sciences and humanities fields. Through its prestigious Doctoral Scholarship, Fellowship, Mentorship and Public Interaction programs, the Foundation supports outstanding individuals who have the drive and ability to take on some of modern society’s most critical issues. “
MR. CHISHOLM’S EXPERIENCE WITH CANADIAN MASS MEDIA: WHY TRY TO EXPOSE WHAT HAPPENED NOW, YEARS OR DECADES AFTERWARDS?
■ There was no Internet and World Wide Web in 1991 when his lawyers seized some of SNC’s office furniture and bank account for non-payment of the Court judgement in his wrongful dismissal lawsuit coinciding with SNC paying $90 million to purchase Lavalin Inc.’s assets as part of the process of SNC taking over Lavalin Inc.
■ Federal M.P.’s and provincial M.P.P.’s who could not / would not / did not do anything when asked
■ Influence of money on / corruption by money of / mass media in Canada (ref. Mary Vipond, “The Mass Media in Canada”, 1st edition, published by James Lorimer in 2000). Fear in mass media of expensive and frivolous / vexatious libel lawsuits from the people responsible (SLAPP). Most media people whom he approached would not report anything or even ask the company so much as one question. Quebec, alone out of all the Canadian provinces, has anti-SLAPP legislation in force but only since 2009.
■ Lawyers manufacturing delays in order to keep the situation in a perpetual state of being “…before the courts…”, so as to excuse themselves and SNC from refusing to comment - thus appearing to “excuse” SNC, The Royal Bank of Canada and the Quebec government under the late Premier Robert Bourassa of any accountability in public.
■ Common and mis-informed attitude that foreign trained professionals are entirely responsible for their own fate, notwithstanding actual conditions in Canada which are “conveniently” kept hidden from view - until it is too late. This is borne out in the November 1987 Quebec Court of Appeal judgement involving Dr. Michael Stanley Short vs. SNC
■ Unsatisfactory social and political climate, especially in Quebec where Mr. Chisholm was working for SNC.
■ General efforts in Canada geared to inculcating defeatist attitudes in the minds of people out of work, involving such ideas as “MONEY TALKS” and “…be careful what you say….” in order to justify corruption in business and cover it up. This type of mental attitude in Canada towards “whistleblowers” has its origin in a combination of lack of legal protection for "whistleblowers", snobbery based on money and obsession in the mass media with appearing to be “politically correct” - meaning in practice that big business just exploits the use of money and weak or non-existent laws, when it chooses, in order to completely disregard Charter rights in Canadian workplaces concerning right to life, security of the person and equality before the law. At present Mr. Chisholm cannot even get his story reported on the fairwhistleblower.ca website just referred to, because of legal liability problems arising from his story never having been officially “…in the public domain…”. This is unlike the situation for other people such as professional engineer Evan Vokes who was dismissed by TransCanada Pipelines in May 2012 after raising some very serious concerns about bad workmanship on the Keystone oil pipeline project.
■ Everything is documented, making the time factor irrelevant as an “excuse” for doing nothing.
SOME OF MR. CHISHOLM’S EXPERIENCES WITH MASS MEDIA PEOPLE IN CANADA
Not all of these were bad. Between 1982 when all the trouble with SNC started, and 1984, Mr. Chisholm had significant coverage and this is partly documented. But the story up to 1984 represents just a small part of what happened up to now (November 2013).
In May 1984, the (now defunct) “Sunday Express” newspaper, local to Montreal, had their reporter Richard Flint interview him and published an article on May 5th that year. Among other things, it said that Mr. Chisholm was given 4 months severance pay by SNC in lieu of notice - but the actual amount was only 4 weeks’ pay. Apart from this one error, the article was accurate and the paper published a correction in the next issue. As far as Mr. Chisholm knows, nobody in the mainstream media picked up on it. The paper’s Editor at the time was Bill Hartley who later moved to a local TV station, CFCF 12.
Then in early August 1991, between the SNC furniture seizure and the bank account seizure, Mr. Chisholm was briefly on the air through CJAD 800 Radio in Montreal and talked about the furniture seizure.
Within a day or so of this, he also spoke to investigative reporter Bill Marsden at the Montreal Gazette, who could / would / only say “…oh, we are doing something else with SNC…” (i.e. reporting nearly every day on the takeover by SNC of Lavalin Inc.)
So nothing about it ever appeared in the Montreal Gazette or any other newspaper.
In December 1994 and again in April 1995, Mr. Chisholm wrote to Bill Hartley, who by then was the Editor at CFCF 12 “Pulse News” in Montreal, Quebec. Mr. Chisholm included a 172-page “black book” about SNC, among other things. Bill Hartley did not have the time for this but referred Mr. Chisholm to Dale Goldhawk at CTV Television’s program, “Goldhawk Fights Back”.
On April 30th 1994 Mr. Chisholm wrote to Dale Goldhawk including the same 172-page black book, among other things. In his reply dated May 26th 1995, Mr. Goldhawk politely claimed to be unable to report anything on his CTV Television program, after examining the information.
On April 3rd 1995, Mr. Chisholm wrote to then-“Ottawa Citizen” reporter Brad Evenson, who eventually declined to report anything, on the “grounds” that the paper “…does not report on things in Quebec…”, or some such. He also said to Mr. Chisholm, “...people get shot in this town and it doesn’t get reported…” This was Brad Evenson’s final response to the same 172-page “black book” and other information that Mr. Chisholm had sent him, even though Mr. Evenson claimed to have double checked a few things and found them to correspond “…almost exactly…” with what Mr. Chisholm said, which was fully documented. Some months beforehand, Mr. Chisholm had spoken about the same thing to Ottawa Citizen editor Hugh Patterson, who commented that Mr. Chisholm’s story sounded “... a bit too odd…”.
On that same date Mr. Chisholm had also written to the same Brad Evenson about something advertised in “The Ottawa Citizen” on March 23rd 1995 which appeared to be a good work opportunity for Mr. Chisholm. It turned out to be “Resort Condominiums International” which “The Ottawa Citizen” had previously heard about and found to be a business “scam” with links to organised crime.
M.P.’S AND M.P.P.’S WHO COULD NOT / WOULD NOT / DID NOT / DO ANYTHING WHEN ASKED.
This is really a separate story unto itself.
The people involved included:-
In Montreal: The late P.E. Trudeau, M.P. (also Prime Minister of Canada up to 1984); Allan Khoury, M.P.P..
In Ottawa: Beryl Gaffney, M.P.; Marlene Catterall, M.P.; The Hon. John Baird, M.P.; Jim Watson, M.P.P., Bob Chiarelli, M.P.P..
All of them had problems with a combination of work over-load and rules/regulations that stopped them from doing anything.
In the latest instance (during 2013) involving Pam Crawford – Assistant to Mr. Chisholm’s current federal M.P., The Hon. John Baird – certain important points came up. These served to show - over the years and decades - how a string of errors and omissions continually compounded a bad situation caused initially by corporate wrongdoing at SNC and continually made it worse, making it virtually impossible for Ms. Crawford to do anything – quite apart from the other problems just noted.
Some documentation concerning all the above is available.
This serves to show how, in Canada, your government representatives – for whom you vote at election time – are virtually incapable of doing anything, particularly concerning corruption in the private sector business.
Apart from other things, it all boils down to continual instances - albeit accidental – of enforcing the defeatism and defeatist attitudes in Canada that Stephen Harper, now Canada’s Prime Minister, complained of in his famous May 2002 speech reported as a front page headline in the “National Post” newspaper of May 30th 2002, “Harper Calls Canada a Nation of Defeatists”. There is even a Wikipedia entry about that May 2002 speech.
Mr. Chisholm has more to say about the near-impossibility of finding work in Canada caused by bad job market conditions, popular disinformation in media reports about people out of work and endless lecturing of people out of work about “appearances” when looking for work. He plans to deal with these topics in future articles.
Update – May 21st 2015
Someone raised a question with me a week or so ago.
As a result, I must also point out one more thing. Back between May 1991 and November 1991, when all the nonsense was going on leading to the office furniture seizure followed by the bank account seizure for non-payment of the judgement by SNC, my lawyers advised that SNC wanted me to sign an undertaking to make no additional financial claims or pursue any further legal action after the case was concluded. I refused to sign any such document, so the way is still open to me to make any further claims that I see fit. SNC’s tactic was simply a smokescreen designed to intimidate me and obfuscate. They had to pay the judgement anyway, in the case that was concluded in 1991, which was a civil case. “Quick Reference” supporting documents added November 4th 2016
Updates – December 9th, 2016
The fairwhistleblower.ca web site referred to above closed in 2014 when the owner retired and sold the domain name. But the Facebook page about it still exists, at https://www.facebook.com/FairWhistleblower
The South Asia Mail online newspaper has also closed, again because the owner – Dr. John Samuel – has retired and sold the domain name.
But you can still see part of Mr. Chisholm’s online article, as published by the South Asia Mail, at :-