The RCMP has spent millions of dollars on investigating crimes committed by the “controlling minds” of SNC-Lavalin, and have laid charges against several officials within the company.
Seven of those accused had to be let go because of Canadians’ constitutional “right to be tried within a reasonable time”.
One of them were caught with receipts that showed that the company spent nearly $2 million bribing the son of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, including $30,000 spent on prostitutes for the “prince” when he visited Canada over a decade ago.
The question must be asked: how often do white-collar criminals go free because our nation’s prosecutors just ‘don’t have the time to get around to it’?
I am in no way suggesting that Crown Attorneys are slacking off. The criminal justice system has a lot on its plate and understandably so.
To the extent that they do not have the resources to prosecute certain white-collar crimes, they are allocating those resources towards prosecuting murders, assaults, and the like.
Even violent criminals sometimes go free because of a delayed trial.
It is undoubtedly a huge drain on resources to litigate complex cases against giant (sometimes politically well-connected) corporations against perhaps the best lawyers in the country.
Sometimes, that decision is very well justified. That is why Harper’s parliament created the office of an independent decision-maker in charge of being the frontline exerciser of the fundamental principle of prosecutorial discretion. That was the same decision-maker that Jody Wilson-Raybould was fired for not interfering with.
However, it is probably fair to say that in the wake of the recent scandal, there are concerns that deterrence against committing white-collar crimes seems lower than it should be.
These prosecutorial decisions definitely have no easy answer, but perhaps those discussions can become more public for the sake of transparency.
Perhaps it is time to create a mechanism to better publicize when those accused of white-collar crimes go free, so that those responsible for making those decisions have to justify them as well. Possible legitimate reasons could include a lack of evidence, a lack of resources, or a cost-benefit analysis.
It would at least disincentivize prosecutors from thinking that such decisions go unnoticed, because up until now, they largely have.
Apparently, we live in a country where you can bring the son of a dictator into the country and bribe him by showing him a “good time”, and get away with zero consequences.
What do you think? Join the conversation by commenting below!