There’s this perception out there of two different justice systems in Canada. One for the rich, where if you have enough money you can buy your way out of any trouble. Price fixing on bread for 14 years like Loblaw? No problem; apologize, offer rebates, and you can get government help converting your refrigeration units so that they’re more environmentally friendly. Bribe government officials in other countries for work, commit fraud, and fund their “extra curriculars” while they visit Canada, then get caught by the RCMP like SNC Lavalin? That’s okay, you’ll be invited to negotiate a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), a kind of probation for corporations.
This is the problem the Liberals can’t get away from. The perception that they’re rewarding bad behavior. Loblaw’s gave customers a$25 gift card as a so-called ‘goodwill gesture’. But the company also earned $221 million for the last quarter of 2018. There isn’t a way they could reinvest some of that into these units? The savings in energy alone would probably pay for the investment. The reality is that $25 might pay a quarter of the grocery bill for some families/ week because they’re too busy paying the carbon tax affecting pretty much everything. The penalty for price fixing is a fine of $24 million, and a potential jail term of up to 14 years.
SNC’s crimes aren’t only the fraud and bribery charges they’re facing in relation to the Jody Wilson-Raybould scandal. One of their executives pled guilty to offenses related to illegal donations to political parties which included the Liberals in January. A lawsuit is pending over fraud and bribery charges related to a contract to build a super-hospital at McGill. They’re also facing an investigation over a bridge project in Montreal where Michel Fournier, described as a former federal official pled guilty to taking approximately 2.3 million in bribes. And all of this is within the last two years. The perception here is that if you throw enough money at the problem, then you can do whatever you want.. because you know the 9000 jobs nobody has any proof will be lost. The only job losses there might be are Quebec’s 40 Liberal MP’s.
The perception is it doesn’t matter to the current Liberal government. In their minds, they have the best and only way to tackle climate change; therefore of course Loblaw deserves extra money. Never mind the small or medium sized business owners who want to do the same, but can’t afford it. Or those much talked about “middle-class” Canadians The Liberals claim to care so much about. $307/ year might cover a few fill-ups if gas prices stay relatively stable.
The reality is the Liberals risk legitimizing the perception that big business can buy its way out of trouble. Is that the Canada voters want? That’s a question for October.