Letter to the editor: Averting layoffs at SNC-Lavalin?

This is a letter to the editor that I sent to the Ottawa Citizen:

Bereft of any valid excuse for pressuring former Attorney-General Wilson-Raybould to intervene in the crime and corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin, Prime Minister Trudeau, with his aides and cabinet loyalists, have fallen back on the sanctimonious claim that they were only trying to save the threatened jobs of the company’s employees.

Once saved from both its financial and lawbreaking predicaments, surely SNC-Lavalin would have no reason to lay off workers. That was the Trudeau government’s implied assumption.

It surely knew better.

Hark back to the huge government handout heaped on another big Quebec-based company, Bombardier, a few years ago. Like SNC-Lavalin, the aerospace giant was repeatedly subsidized by the federal government, had the same cozy relationship with the Liberal party, and currently faces similar bid-rigging and corruption charges in the courts of Sweden and Brazil.

In 2017, when Bombardier had another of its perennial profit declines, the Trudeau government came to its rescue with a massive $3.7 billion bailout, allegedly to enable the company to avoid large planned layoffs. A few months later, Bombardier sacked 3,000 of its Canadian workers and gifted its senior executives with a 50% salary raise.

Financial Post columnist Andrew Coyne’s sardonic reaction to Bombardier’s blatant misuse of taxpayers’ money was to quip that “Bombardier is not in the transportation industry; it’s in the government subsidies industry.”

The jobs of SNC-Lavalin employees would be no more secure than those of Bombardier if SNC-Lavalin ever decided — thanks to ongoing government largesse — that it could get by without them.

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