According to the National Post, an SNC-Lavalin lobbyist and former Liberal adviser attended two events exclusive to donors, hosted by the Liberal party around the same time that SNC-Lavalin was lobbying Ottawa for a negotiated settlement to avoid a criminal trial.
Bruce Hartley, an SNC-Lavalin lobbyist since April of 2017, has attended two events, one in December of 2017 and one in June of 2018, where PM Trudeau was the featured guest. Though Hartley’s attendance is not illegal, and did not explicitly break Liberal fundraising rules, the discovery of his attendance has raised red flags from critics, who say it clearly points to cash-for-access, meaning all it takes is high-spending donors to pay up to attend the events, as well as to get one-on-one access to the Prime Minister
“Hartley, a former top aide to PM Jean Chretien who now works for lobbying firm Prospectus, said he did not discuss SNC-Lavalin at the events, and said he attended as a Liberal Party member,” the Post reported.
In the public lobbying registry, Hartley is not listed as having conducted “any official meetings with the government on behalf of the company.”
This could have a variety of interpretations, but surely this could be considered as yet another thorn in the side of the Trudeau Liberals, who have been the centerpiece to a media circus over the past month. The practice of having donor-exclusive events is a practice that the Liberal Party has attempted to step away from, though it appears that Trudeau is still willing to make time for friends with large wallets.
Amongst the crowd at these events were other players in the SNC-Lavalin story, names that have made headlines over the past month. These names include former principal secretary Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, and Mathieu Bouchard, Trudeau’s adviser on Quebec issues.
“Hartley has met with public officials on behalf of other firms like telecoms company Ericcson Canada, electronics provider CAE, and Resolute Forest Products, among others,” the Post went on to say.
New fundraising rules put in place by the Liberals in 2017 set out to increase transparency, as revelations were made that the party had been raising millions upon millions of dollars through “private fundraisers” that “gave wealthy donors access to Trudeau and his cabinet ministers behind closed doors.”
It is then no surprise that events like these would benefit SNC-Lavalin, who would have benefited greatly from private meetings with the PM.
The fundraiser events since have been advertised in advance and “conducted in publicly accessible spaces,” in which media can also attend. The Liberal party also publishes full reports and guest lists of attendees after the events.
The party says it “vets guest lists in advance to ensure that anyone registered to lobby the featured gust at fundraisers does not attend.” That rule only applies to certain types of fundraisers, not including the type of events that Hartley was in attendance for in 2017 and 2018.
“For two years now, the Liberal Party has been the first and only party to move forward with the strongest standards in federal politics for open and transparent political fundraising events,” a Liberal Party spokesperson said in an email. “No other party has yet adopted the same level of transparency.”
With revelations like these coming to the forefront, it’s easier for one to imagine that a multi-billion dollar company like SNC-Lavalin could sleaze their way into politics as a way to benefit them, a way to make political friends, and a way to get favors from the higher-ups.
Among all of the drama surrounding the Prime Minister at the moment, some have recently pointed out that Guy Saint-Pierre, former President, CEO, and chairman of the board of SNC-Lavalin, is listed as a donor on the Liberal Party’s 2015-2016 annual financial report as well.
Like Hartley’s attendance at Liberal fundraisers, there is nothing illegal about Saint-Pierre donating to the Trudeau Foundation, but it does catch the attention of many that are already scrutinizing the PM for trying to politically interfere in the justice system.
It’s interesting to note just how deeply intertwined the Trudeau Liberals are with big donors, and is especially interesting to think that Trudeau will cut favors, and even potentially attempt to bend the rule of law, for his friends at a Quebec-based company like SNC-Lavalin.
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