The Liberal and SNC-Lavalin's relationship is the biggest corporate scandal of the year.

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Watching the SNC-Lavalin scandal unfold these last few weeks has been hard. And, unfortunately, this type of scandal is not a surprise. The Canadian government has a long history of snuggling up with corporations. Trudeau, particularly, has sided with pipeline corporations against Indigenous rights and the planet time and again. SNC-Lavalin is just another on the list of corporations Trudeau is willing to push aside Canadian law for.

SumOfUs exist to hold corporations accountable... and it was tough to see a corporation like SNC run around the law and put people and the planet at risk. So we wrote an op-ed and hoping you would too.

Like us, you probably have an opinion about how the government is cozying up with corporations and we think the world should hear it. When newspapers from coast to coast to coast are publishing letters to the editor calling on the government to stop running around the law for corporations, politicians pay attention. That's why we need you to send a letter today.

We have set up a link for you to easily find your local newspaper so you can share your thoughts about the SNC scandal.

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We wrote this op-ed when we heard about the SNC-Lavalin scandal because we were unfortunately unsurprised by it. With Trudeau's history of putting corporations like Coastal Gaslink ahead of Indigenous rights, it was unsurprising that his government would try to run around the law for SNC-Lavalin.

We hope this is an inspiration to you.

March 11th, 2019.
An opinion piece written by Amelia Meister and Angus Wong, the SumOfUs Canadian Campaigns Team.

Why is everyone so surprised that our charming Prime Minister now finds himself in a corruption scandal? In reality, it’s amazing that the SNC-Lavalin scandal is being seen as the first time he's in hot water for bedding up with corporations. With his smooth talking, Trudeau has managed, over the last three and half years, to uphold a facade of progressive politics while continuously putting the needs of corporations over those of Canadians, First Nations, and the Global South.

Next to Trump’s America, Canada has often flown under the radar for corporate corruption, masquerading as a “progressive” country. However, the truth is that Canada has a long history of letting corporations run rampant over human rights and environmental laws.

Trudeau’s smile and eloquence have served him well in distracting us from his neoliberal policies. But you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. By definition, neoliberalism prioritizes the free market, creating policies that put the needs of corporations over people and the planet. And Jody Raybould-Wilson's testimony before the Commons justice committee, as the first woman Indigenous Justice Minister in Canada’s history, confirmed just how far Trudeau is willing to go to protect corporate interests.

It should come as no surprise that the Prime Minister is embroiled in a corruption scandal. This is the same Prime Minister that bought an aging pipeline, which its own parliamentary budget officer is saying it's overpriced by 1 billion dollars, to protect Kinder Morgan from financial losses.

The more pertinent question in all of this becomes: why did the Liberal government work so hard to cover up the misdeeds of SNC-Lavalin? Canada has one of the largest construction industries in the world with a terrible track record of environmental and human rights violations. In 2013, the World Bank had 250 firms blacklisted from bidding on its global projects under its fraud and corruption policy. Of those 117 are Canadian, with SNC-Lavalin and its affiliates representing 115 of those entries. So why is SNC-Lavalin Trudeau’s darling?

The answer: Trudeau has a long history of protecting corporations instead of people.

The Canadian mining industry, for example, is not bound to follow Canadian laws in its operations in other countries and several of these corporations are under fire for environmental disasters and human rights abuses in the Global South.

Yet, even amid allegations of knowingly using forced labour, the Canadian government has pointedly refused to take action to hold Canadian corporations accountable for their behaviours internationally.

With such a track record, is it any wonder that Trudeau is allegedly protecting SNC-Lavalin from criminal prosecution?

For First Nations and communities in the global South, who are suffering the harshest consequences of Canada’s corporate protections, the time to change how Trudeau and his Liberal government deal with corporations can’t wait. We must not allow another Indigenous cultural site to be bulldozed illegally by an oil giant nor mining companies to dodge regulations and allow forced labour in their in developing country operations

A great first step is to look truthfully at Trudeau’s policies and demand that these policies reflect values of people and planet before corporate profits. We not only need accountability for Trudeau’s protection of SNC-Lavalin but for Canadian laws to apply to all Canadian corporations that operate outside of Canada. The double-standard of having a seemingly different set of laws for corporations than individuals needs to end. Only then can we stop the atrocities, corruption, and destruction that happens at the hands of Canadian corporations, including SNC-Lavalin.

There are already many working to bring these issues to light and hold Canadian corporations, and the governments that uphold them, accountable. Organizations like SumOfUs have challenged the double standard through holding Imperial Metals accountable for the Mount Polley disaster, forcing Suncor to disclose its lobbying expenses and ensuring the Big Three telecoms in Canada don’t get away with controlling the internet.

Right now, we need voters and organizations like SumOfUs to keep the heat on government, and the corporations it protects, to push for stronger legislation, more accountability and a different vision of Canada --- one that puts people and the planet over profit.

The SNC-Lavalin scandal is revealing just how much influence corporations have on the government and the extent that the Canadian government will go to protect corporations. This adds up to a toxic mix of greed, driven by profit and power.

It’s high time we remind this ‘progressive’ administration that the government works for us and together we can take down the facade of progressive politics that Trudeau has erected and push for economic and political actors who are committed to justice and sustainability.

Inspired to write something on your own? Use this link a write a letter to your local paper.

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Thanks for all that you do,
Amelia, Angus and the team at SumOfUs

More information:

A closer look at SNC-Lavalin's sometimes murky past, CBC, 08 February 2019
The hidden key to the SNC-Lavalin scandal, National Observer, 08 March 2019

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