Bringing SNC-Lavalin to Mind in this Uninspiring Federal Election

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1902 ... October 5, 2019
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Bringing SNC-Lavalin to Mind in this Uninspiring Federal Election

Leo Panitch

Who would have believed, just a few months ago, that the SNC-Lavalin scandal would scarcely have been registered so far as one of the key issues in the current Federal election? This has nothing to do with the short memories of our politicians or the voters. Rather it depressingly speaks to the narrow range of political discourse and policy options in this country.

The extraordinary lengths to which the Prime Minister’s Office went to prevent the prosecution of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin certainly was related to protecting the jobs of those workers it employs in Quebec. But what makes Canada’s largest construction company ‘too big to fail’ is, of course, much more than this. SNC-Lavalin’s infrastructural engineering and productive capacities are unique not only in terms of their centrality to the mining and metallurgy as well as the oil and gas industries, but also to this country’s ecological infrastructure -- from transportation and hospitals to water and clean power.

The two corporations that merged... in 1991 to comprise SNC-Lavalin were sustained through most of the twentieth century by municipal, provincial and federal government procurement and subsidies. Indeed, with this corporate concentration the dependence on the state over the following three decades became, if anything, even greater. This is why SNC-Lavalin is ‘too big to fail’ today.

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