SNC-Lavalin never mentioned 9,000 potential job losses, CEO says
|globalnews.ca 20 Mar 2019 at 12:42|
TORONTO ‚ÄĒ¬† SNC-Lavalin ‚Äės local employees will be forced to work for foreign competitors if the embattled engineering firm is barred from bidding on federal contracts, diminishing its role as rare Canadian global champion, the company‚Äôs CEO said Wednesday.
Unlike the Trudeau government, he said the Montreal-based company has never cited the protection of 9,000 Canadian jobs as a reason it should be granted a remediation agreement to avoid a criminal trial.
‚ÄúThis thing that somehow they‚Äôre going to be unemployed is not true because they are highly qualified, highly experienced people.‚ÄĚ
However, he says there‚Äôs a public interest for such an agreement because its well-qualified employees will be forced to work for U.S. or European competitors if it is barred from bidding on federal contracts for a decade.
SNC-Lavalin faces accusations it paid bribes to get government business in Libya ‚ÄĒ a criminal case that has triggered a political storm and cost Prime Minister Justin Trudeau two cabinet ministers and his most trusted adviser.
Bruce said about 75 per cent of the company‚Äôs rivals have concluded deferred prosecution agreements in their host countries and are free to work in Canada.
Meanwhile, Bruce said he still doesn‚Äôt know why the director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould were not open to granting a remediation agreement.
He said SNC-Lavalin employees feel bruised and battered by the last six weeks since a report surfaced that government officials pressured the former attorney general to grant the company a deferred prosecution agreement.
‚ÄúAnd I think fundamentally that‚Äôs unfair on our employees who had nothing to do with what went on seven to 20 years ago.‚ÄĚ
While he‚Äôs not surprised that politicians would make hay out of this issue during an election year, Bruce said he‚Äôs concerned that policymakers haven‚Äôt been as willing as other countries to defend home-grown companies and their workers.
He said there‚Äôs no plans to move the company‚Äôs headquarters from Montreal, adding competitors are envious of its shareholder base that is 82 per cent Canadian and led by the Caisse de depot which has helped fund its acquisition of British engineering firm Atkins.
‚ÄúWe see ourselves as Team Canada. We are a global champion, one of few. There‚Äôs not many and we‚Äôre proud to be Canadian.‚ÄĚ