Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, wants former Treasury Board President Scott Brison and several executives at the Bank of Montreal’s investment banking division included in widely expected Senate investigations into SNC-Lavalin and the removal of Jody Wilson-Raybould as Attorney General.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said publicly that, if Brison hadn’t resigned then he wouldn’t have removed Wilson-Raybould as leader of the Justice Ministry. That logic has confused many Canadian political observers. Why would the Treasury Board President’s resignation impact the tenure of the Justice Minister?
Sources close to the Conservative opposition leader have told The Chronicle, on the condition of anonymity, that Scheer has reason to suspect that Brison’s resignation on January 10th was part of a wider effort to shield the government and Bank of Montreal executives from wide-ranging improprieties related to the former Kinder Morgan pipeline and its subsequent acquisition.
The Bank of Montreal has been using intermediary business service providers to ‘effectively bribe’ the elected officials of Indian Act-governments in British Columbia in exchange for pipeline approvals, the longtime government relations executive alleges. That practice has been a source of outrage among indigenous people in the Province.
Worried that the practice violates the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the United States, (a conviction under that law would result in criminal prosecutions and trade sanctions against BMO), banking executives hurridly lobbied Finance Minister Bill Morneau in late May, and were able to quickly secure a transaction that would effectively nationalize the pipeline, while offering favorable terms of indemnification to the investors involved in the project.
The source claims that Wilson-Raybould, who had just denied a deferred prosecution agreement to SNC-Lavalin in early-September, was similarly unwilling to offer BMO such an arrangement because the newly introduced legal mechanism did not allow for a retroactive application. Trudeau was unwilling to direct her in any official capacity, with the intention of insulating himself from political backlash.
Brison was hired by BMO by February 14th, as Vice Chairman of the firm’s investment and corporate banking business — just weeks after his abrupt resignation. Scheer is said to have evidence that Brison was offered that position privately prior to leaving the Trudeau government — and that Gerald Butts, the PM’s recently resigned Principle Secretary, was involved in arranging for the position in the firm’s Toronto office.
As President of the Treasury Board, Brison acted as the comptroller of the federal government with oversight responsibility for government payments. Scheer does not intend to make his information public until a date closer to the federal elections, scheduled for October 21st.
The improprieties threatened to become public during the Trudeau government’s re-negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which may have undermined the political posturing of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland during her negotiations with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.