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View Erin Weir Profile
View Erin Weir Profile
2019-03-26 14:01
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I would just like to add a couple of points that I think would be very worthwhile for this committee to consider.
First, in cases of wrongdoing abroad, such as what SNC-Lavalin has been accused of, I think our objective should be to hold accountable the people guilty of the wrongdoing and at the same time not unduly damage Canada's economic resources. There's been a lot of debate about this figure of 9,000 jobs. I and others have been skeptical about that number, but at the end of the day, I think there's no doubt that charges and convictions and a ban from federal contracts against SNC-Lavalin would do some pretty serious damage to a very important Canadian enterprise—the largest construction company in Canada.
It strikes me that there's a bit of a dilemma here about how to go after wrongdoing without having these negative side effects on our economy. There was a disagreement within the government about whether a deferred prosecution agreement would be an appropriate tool to achieve that goal of going after the wrongdoing without damaging the economic assets. It strikes me that something the committee should consider is whether we should entirely focus on penalizing the company, through either a prosecution or a deferred prosecution agreement, or whether that goal might be better achieved through a renewed focus on prosecuting the individuals who actually committed the wrongdoing. It seems to me that there is a place sometimes for prosecuting companies, and there may be a place for deferred prosecution agreements, but one of the best ways to achieve the goal that I think we all want to achieve is to put a renewed emphasis on prosecution of the actual individuals within that enterprise who are accused of paying bribes and corruption abroad.
Mr. Chair, the second point that I would encourage this committee to consider is that in this new area for Canada of deferred prosecution agreements, there clearly needs to be some sort of oversight or some sort of possibility of appeal beyond just one individual, the director of public prosecutions. That oversight or appeal needs to be from someone who is independent, someone who isn't political. A big part of the problem in the SNC-Lavalin case was that the only way to appeal a decision of the director of public prosecutions was to go to an attorney general who was not just a member of Parliament but also a member of cabinet and also the justice minister.
One way that's been suggested to achieve some sort of independent oversight or review in these very complex and difficult decisions is to reinforce the independence of the Attorney General by splitting that portfolio from the justice portfolio. I think that's a possibility that this committee should consider. There might be other ways of coming up with some sort of mechanism for review or oversight of decisions of the director of public prosecutions in an independent, non-partisan way. That's one idea that's been floated. I would encourage the committee to consider it and others.
Thanks very much for this opportunity, Mr. Chair.
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