I’m Concerned About SNC-Lavalin Debacle, and the Riders

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I should probably be more concerned with the extremely strange SNC-Lavalin mess in Ottawa than with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and our quarterbacking problem. 

(Yes, our. You know we own whatever happens with that team. I certainly do, and so I took matters into my own hands, as you will later see. You’re welcome.)

And I am! Concerned about the government and SNC-Lavalin, I mean. Glued to the TV on successive evenings, when I’m often already in bed, I watched this weird apparent dispute unfold between our prime minister and Jody Wilson-Raybould, former justice minister and attorney general. 

As I begin this column, she just resigned from cabinet over the SNC-Lavalin debacle. Maybe it’s just as well, in that she may now actually say/be able to say something. Maybe I’m not very surprised, either. 

When it first came to light that the prime minister and/or his office, which amounts to the same thing, had probably waded into the potential prosecution of SNC, and may have pressured her to abandon same in favour of a new “remediation” option offered only since early 2018, the resignation outcome was likely from the hop. 

Wilson-Raybould was first demoted from the justice portfolio to veterans affairs. Not long after, she said no comment and nothing further when asked about the situation. Then she said no comment due to solicitor-client privilege. Then she didn’t appear with Justin Trudeau during an availability, as they call it, in her own province. 

As I write this, she is saying she is resigning “with a heavy heart” and consulting on whether she can speak publicly on the issue. Sounds like something’s up.

This is not over, not by miles. While Wilson-Raybould is, at the moment, the central figure in this mess, the problem lies in the PMO. Where the buck stops. If indeed the highest political office in the country was trying to influence the outcome of certain serious charges — indeed, to have them dropped — we have a big problem that flouts a principle at the heart of our legal system. 

Everyone is equal under the law. Not only that, but our legal system, and its decisions, should not be influenced by the politicians of the day. 

That there have been issues at SNC-Lavalin, at least in the past, is hardly in question any more. A long list of scandals involving foreign interests from Libya to Bangalesh have been trailing behind the firm since 2015. 

SNC has also had its fingers in various Saskatchewan pies to the tune of $765.8 million over nine years. This, in Saskatchewan, is not chicken feed. NDP Leader Ryan Meili is right to ask for a review of the Quebec company’s activities here.

By the time you read this, at least 800 more developments will have taken place on this file. It’s important to follow it. Of course, it’s possible that all is well. It’s also possible that fundamental values have been, if not entirely violated in the eyes of the law, trodden upon in the eyes of the public.

Which brings me, inelegantly, to my other obsession: the Roughriders and our pivotal problem. The quarterback.

I wanted it to be Mike Reilly. This will come as no surprise to you, gentle reader, nor my husband nor friends nor family. He is not just a very good quarterback, but a leader. We need him. And he was a free agent, a possible solution to many of our problems.

So when I heard that he had come to some sort of agreement with the B.C. Lions, I was not very happy. 

I sent him a Tweet. Why not? I thought. No one else has been able to make this work. Why not me? Because I have no money, no influence, and no credibility in the sports world? Pshaw.

I was very courteous, and I think made an excellent argument. Decide for yourself.

Open letter to #MikeReilly@Rikester13 

Dear Sir: I hear you are likely going to #BCLions

Please reconsider Saskatchewan. Our team needs you very badly. 

They have $$/weather, but #Rider #fans will surround you with <heart> . 

Sincerely, Me of #RiderNation

I was too late. Reilly is off to the Lions, darn it. I wish I’d tried this earlier in the proceedings. I mean, how could anyone resist such a lovely entreaty? 

Leaving me, and legions of Rider fans, to wonder — now what?