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Trudeau is making Canada safe for corruption again with the SNC-Lavalin case

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What’s old is new again. Before corruption of foreign officials became illegal in Canada in the late 1990s, Liberal governments blessed bribes that facilitated exports. After the Harper Conservatives came to power in 2006, the tide turned against corruption, with companies such as SNC-Lavalin being prosecuted, much to the chagrin of Liberals. Now the Liberals are back in power, and thanks to their recent introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs), corruption has made a comeback.

In the 1970s, when Jean Chrétien was the Liberal trade minister, he urged Canadians not to put their “head in the sand” and pass up overseas sales by being fussed over bribes. The late Bernard Lamarre, former head of Lavalin Inc. (now SNC-Lavalin), boasted to Maclean’s in 1991 that whenever he did business in the Third World, he never handed out bribes without first demanding a receipt. “I make sure we get a signed invoice,” he explained. “And payment is always in the form of a cheque, not cash, so we can claim it on our income tax!”

Canada passed the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in 1998 because it was forced to — thanks to an OECD convention that had deemed bribery illegal, and Canada had no choice but to comply … on paper. Federal governments spent the next decade largely ignoring its legislation.

A 2009 Transparency International study castigated Canada as one of the countries in the developed world that was most........

© Financial Post