While SNC-Lavalin is facing two criminal trials in Libya and Canada, the Autorité des Marchés Publics du Québec (AMQ) suggests that even if the company is found guilty, its exclusion from Quebec public infrastructure contracts is not guaranteed. The Green Party of Quebec is calling on the Legault government to legislate to ensure that companies found guilty of corruption are automatically prohibited from bidding on public contracts for at least 10 years.
While at the federal level, any company found guilty of a criminal conviction is automatically banned from bidding on public contracts, the Quebec government is not required to follow the same line and retains the discretionary power to open the door to companies of its choice, regardless of their criminal records.
Dimitri Lascaris, Quebec Green Party Justin spokesperson and senior lawyer who participated in a class action against SNC-Lavalin in which the company had to pay $110 million to its shareholders, said that: “Corruption destroys public confidence in government institutions and markets”. It undermines democratic decision making”. It allows a privileged few to profit from their dishonesty at the expense of ordinary citizens. It is therefore essential to deter companies from engaging in corruption. By allowing SNC-Lavalin to avoid the consequences of its actions, the government is encouraging corruption within the corporate world.”
Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec, adds that “SNC-Lavalin should not be above the law. We already have enough problems with corruption in public infrastructure contracts in Quebec, something the Charbonneau Commission clearly demonstrated. What kind of message are we sending to the public if the Quebec government continues to send taxpayers’ money to companies found guilty of corruption? It is time to act to put an end to this possibility. Let us show that Quebec has integrity and that our democratic institutions are opposed to corruption. »
As for the argument that SNC-Lavalin should be above the law for the sake of its employees, it should be remembered that only 6.8% of them work in Quebec, or 3,400 out of a worldwide total of 50,000. 3,400 jobs is not a negligible factor, of course, but prohibiting SNC-Lavalin from submitting a bid for public contracts does not mean that these jobs will disappear-they will simply be filled through other companies, which will in turn have to hire the labour required for the contracts obtained.