SNC-Lavalin controversy takes back seat at Sask. Hospital opening

While the controversies surrounding SNC-Lavalin have dominated the news out of Ottawa, there was barely a mention of the company’s involvement with the Saskatchewan Hospital during the grand opening of the new facility Friday.

The only mention came from Andy Trewick, chief operating officer of Graham Construction. Graham is one of the partners in Access Prairies Partnership, the P3 consortium awarded the 33-year design-build-finance-maintain contract for the facility.

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Trewick acknowledged there had been some challenges along the way during the construction, including their original partner Carillion going into liquidation. 

“I’m pleased for the province of Saskatchewan that the private-public partnership model protected the province from these issues,” said Trewick.

He also voiced optimism about the future maintenance of the facility.

“Looking ahead to our operations and maintenance partner SNC-Lavalin, we are excited to continue collaborating and leveraging our collective expertise to operate and maintain Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford facility for years to come and for you all.”

SNC-Lavalin was selected by Graham Capital Partners LP to take over as facilities manager of Saskatchewan Hospital in January. The contract runs for 30 years. 

Since that announcement, SNC-Lavalin has been embroiled in a scandal centred on charges of fraud and bribery in connection to dealings in Libya.

Last month, the provincial NDP pointed to the SNC-Lavalin involvement in Sask. Hospital as they called for a moratorium on all further dealings with the company. The party also pointed to SNC-Lavalin political contributions to the Sask. Party in making their call for campaign finance reform.

“When we look at the history between the Sask. Party and SNC-Lavalin over the past decade, with nearly $10,000 in publicly disclosed donations going one way and three quarters of a billion dollars ($765,846,640) in contracts going the other, it’s enough to give the people of the province pause, especially when our political donations and conflict of interest rules are so lax,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili in a news release.

“We are calling for a moratorium on any further deals with SNC-Lavalin until a full review has taken place.”

On Feb. 11, deputy premier Gord Wyant responded by rejecting a moratorium on contracts for SNC-Lavalin. He was reported saying the province had a clear and transparent procurement process, and added there was no reason to disqualify SNC-Lavalin from bidding for provincial contracts.

Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative leader Ken Grey has stated his support for re-examining tax credits for political donations in a March 1 op-ed letter.

“If it’s wrong for Justin Trudeau, why is it not wrong for Scott Moe or Ryan Meili?” Grey queried.

“We really need to look at alternatives. Do we need to give a tax credit for political donations at all? Should it be the same as charitable donations? Should we just limit donation levels or do we ban any corporation who donates to a political party from bidding on government contracts? These are all worthy questions that should be considered. In the meantime it’s business as usual in the new Saskatchewan.”

 

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