Where do we begin.
In a wide ranging interview, Elizabeth May ended up talking about SNC Lavalin and the appalling state of water quality in several First Nation’s communities.
She linked them.
The major issue for SNC Lavalin is the pending legal trouble and the various corporate crimes they have been accused of. They had been seeking a differed prosecution agreement – the very issue at the core of the #LavScam scandal.
Separately, the Federal Government who has constitutional jurisdiction on First Nation’s peoples is responsible to their many communities; communities whose access to clean drinking water in many areas is curtailed due to contamination. These are third world conditions. In Canada.
Elizabeth May chimed in with the notion that a corporation should be compelled into fixing these inadequate water systems as part of their sentencing as a means of “corporate restorative justice”; on their own coin to be sure.
So, we’re to tell an affected first nation community that the badly behaving company is going to build them a new water system and the company is going to pay for it.
Shades of “we’re going to build a wall along the Mexico border and Mexico will pay for it”.
Let me list off the issues that come up with this proposal.
Now is not the time to go soft on white collar criminals.
Anything that gives the slightest ‘out’ for badly behaving corporate bosses is a non-starter with me.
This isn’t the same as handing a juvenile convict a sentence of 100 hours of garbage pick up and graffiti removal for the crime of vandalism.
Corporate criminals get convicted because they conspired to defraud clients, the taxpayer, or both. They do not fit on the same table of ideas.
If more corporate criminals saw the inside of a jail cell and lost 90% of their illegal wealth, then perhaps we’d see less of it. Giving them an out is the last thing we need. Especially in times of the expanding gulf between rich/poor and the disconnect between powerful elite corporatists and average folks.
This is the slippery slope to corporate personhood
It was a famous quote by then Presidential candidate Mitt Romney who uttered the phrase that “corporations are people too..” that lit the left on fire. He was wrong then, and centrist neoliberals are wrong to embrace it now.
By assigning ‘community service’ as a means to make the Corporation feel guilt and remorse. The victims of corporate crime are often taxpayers, shareholders or innocent clients; the only thing that the victims want after the fact (if not their money back) is to see that the people responsible are sent to prison like any other common thief.
Corporations don’t feel. They’re a box or a machine. They don’t get that sort of protection, people do; and the people-victims of badly behaving corporate bosses need to see justice being served.
Collides hard with Reconciliation
This is one of the trickiest areas of law and First Nations relations to be in the public sphere in a long time. Its overdue. We’re a long way off, in my opinion, but need to find a path forward.
I’m not a First Nations member, as my family tree I recently discovered is almost 75% viking and the remainder is ‘other’ European. But as a Canadian, I agree that our performance and treatment of those here first, those who’s land was taken, who’s cultures, languages and belief systems were systematically razed by a government bent on a genocidal assimilation of otherwise peaceful people.
I believe this proposal by Elizabeth May runs afoul of any solid effort on reconciliation.
Her idea is to say that here’s a badly behaving corporation, fresh from a criminal conviction, and we’re requiring them to rebuild your water systems…not only the ones in disarray, but all of them: see below.
No input. No consultations. No effort to reach out and see if there are other, just as capable engineering and construction firms able to the tasks.
SNC Lavalin stands accused of some shady things, but as far as I’m aware, none are related to the sad state of potable water in various first nation communities.
Politicians let off the hook
The sorry state of drinking water in several first nations communities didn’t happen overnight. This took several decades of neglect; by governments more eager to subsidize corporations or hand tax cuts out to the one-percent folks.
Elizabeth May is clever here even if she’s not aware of what she has done. She’s made funding and construction of water services available only if there’s a conviction. What if there isn’t?
It is the government’s duty here, and Elizabeth May is giving politicians an easy way out here. “we’ll let the bad guy pay for the thing we’ve neglected for 40 years”.
What fuckery is this anyways?
The court has the right to impose an adequate sanction for a criminal conviction. But to hear it from Elizabeth May, “we’re not letting the judge decide” and that is a dangerous game to play.
The government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the losing end of a Supreme Court decision when his government passed legislation adding layers of interpretation to sentencing criminals.
Granted, it was for different reasons, but the politicians threatened the independence of the judiciary. They lost.
The Party of Elizabeth May wants to be King maker and power broker. This is a real possibility in the next parliament, so moments like this are critical for voters in judging who has the wisdom to lead.
It’s been noted that this issue, while not explicitly designed as such, has turned into a perfect “Liberal” trap that some NDP folks walked straight into.
It’s a centrist neoliberal Band-Aid solution to an institutionally broken system. But doesn’t offer any real solutions.
Maybe it’s consistent with the stunning shift of the Green Party shifting to more Liberal/centrist philosophy in the hunt for votes; so let’s call it what it is.
This matter has been debated online by several folks and since the first outbreak of this scandalous idea, Elizabeth May has walked back a couple of items;
She’s recognized that the court (judge) has the jurisdiction to decide a sentence upon conviction.
She’s argued that her initial scheme wasn’t privatization, but in my opinion it looks more like punishment-by-P3.
What hasn’t changed is the tone deaf messaging and chaotic defense put up by Green party partisans.
Look, I’m not First Nations, but if I was, this clusterfuck would have been the moment I ruled her and her party out as an option.
Elizabeth May put reconciliation (consultation) and local water systems up as bargaining chips to be considered when figuring out punishment for white collar criminals.
WTF did first nations do to Elizabeth May to be degraded to the level of any other community service (restorative justice)?
It’s gross. And under further examination, it’s still pathetic.