Life With SNC Lavalin

SNC Lavalin own engineering patents for the MALM (erroneously called SkyTrain) system used on the Expo and Millennium lines.

SNC Lavalin leads the consortium operating the Canada line. The BC Liberal government inspired Canada Line (faux) P-3 saw SNC Lavalin, bidding against SNC Lavalin.

On May 27th, 2009, after four years of litigation, BC Supreme Court Justice, Ian Pitfield, awarded $600,000 in damages to my company Susan Heyes Inc. as compensation for business losses caused by the construction of the Canada Line. The appeal of this ruling in my favour was heard April 15th, 2010.

Judge Pittfield called the bidding process for the Canada Line “a charade”.

From the Dogwood

In the past, the company enjoyed a good relationship with the BC Liberal government. Former Transport Minister Todd Stone publicly defended them. Former Premier Christy Clark was very close with SNC-Lavalin’s board chairman, Gwyn Morgan, who advised her on her leadership transition and, along with his wife Patricia Trottier and his company EnCana, was a huge donor to her party. All told, Morgan’s personal, family and corporate donations to the BC Liberals totalled more than $1.5 million.

SNC-Lavalin itself donated more than $27,600 to the BC Liberals — during the same period of time that they were donating to politicians in Quebec in exchange for contracts, and circumventing federal donation laws. Of course, back then B.C. had no limits on political contributions.

During the BC Liberals’ time in office, SNC-Lavalin received a number of high profile government contracts including Kelowna’s William R. Bennett Bridge, the Canada and Evergreen Skytrain Lines (where employees say they were poorly treated), the Sea to Sky Highway and the John Hart dam in Campbell River. They were also involved in the development of the Compass Card system, as well as projects with BC Ferries, and both the Kelowna and Vancouver airports. SNC-Lavalin was also an environmental consultant for Site C, and performed the environmental assessment for the recently cancelled Fraser Surrey Docks project, during which they were accused of bias.

But the company is not in our rearview window yet. SNC-Lavalin is currently being considered by the provincial government for the contract to replace the Pattullo bridge. And Metro Vancouver mayors are alarmed by the possibility the company could still get work on the massive UBC subway project.

It seems SNC-Lavalin believes they can operate with impunity. They have been accused of bribery, embezzlement, corruption and fraud in every corner of this country and the world. It would be naive to think B.C. is exempt. We need to ask some serious questions about how SNC-Lavalin has conducted its business here.

One would think that David Eby and the premier would be very concerned with SNC Lavalin’s influence in BC and how the Mayor’s Council on Transit have been falling all over themselves approving two hugely expensive transit projects ($4.6 billion) using the now obsolete Movia Automatic Light Metro, a proprietary transit system which SNC own engineering patents?

Councillors shocked by how poor SNC-Lavalin’s winning Trillium Line bid was

Lack of information in technical submission documents ‘startling,’ says Coun. Jeff Leiper

Joanne Chianello · CBC · Posted: Jan 25, 2020


Some Councillors are taking the weekend to absorb the newly released documents that shed light on why the city’s technical evaluation team failed SNC-Lavalin’s bid for Trillium Line Stage 2 twice. (Mathieu Fleury/Twitter)


Some Ottawa city councillors are calling for answers in the wake of revelations the city’s technical evaluation team wanted SNC-Lavalin thrown out of the bidding process for the second stage of Ottawa’s north-south rail line.

Instead, the company was eventually awarded the $1.6-billion contract for Stage 2 of the Trillium Line.

“I was absolutely shocked with how poor the proposal was,” said Coun. Carol Anne Meehan. “I was blown away that they really didn’t have a clue what they were actually bidding on and that their bid contained so many gaps in what was essential.”

CBC first reported in March 2019 that SNC-Lavalin did not achieve a minimum technical score for the project. In August the city finally admitted that the Montreal-based engineering firm failed to reach the minimum threshold not just once, but twice.

But documents released by the city this week revealed for the first time details of the technical evaluation team’s report on SNC-Lavalin’s bid.

Among other issues, the SNC-Lavalin bid failed to include a signalling and train control system, had no plan for snow removal and, at one point, referenced equipment used on an electric train system as if the current Trillium Line trains were electric, and not, in fact, diesel.

The team had reached a ”unanimous consensus that the proposal should not be considered further in the evaluation process,” describing SNC-Lavalin’s proposal a ”poor technical submission throughout.”

‘Thumb on the scale’

Coun. Jeff Leiper said the documents were “startling in terms of the lack of information that was provided by the bidder that you would expect to see in a professional complete bid.”

When looking at the questions from the bid evaluation steering committee, which oversaw the city’s procurement process and demanded that the technical evaluators review the bids after SNC-Lavalin originally scored only 63 per cent, Leiper said it’s difficult not to think that “someone had their thumb on the scale” for SNC-Lavalin.

“It’s hard not to read the bid evaluation committees questions as loaded, as clearly indicating that the technical evaluation committee is going to come up with a different answer,” Leiper said.

Leiper said by contrast the technical evaluation committee showed ”professionalism” and “clear rigour” in their exchanges.

“I was left feeling very comfortable that the technical evaluation committee took their job seriously,” he said.

 How did SNC-Lavalin win the contract for the Trillium Line extension? Councillor says it’s hard to understand
Coun. Jeff Leiper says SNC-Lavalin’s bid for the Trillium Line extension was “startling in terms of the lack of information” it contained.  0:51

Coun. Shawn Menard called for an independent public inquiry.

“It is startling to read the lucid staff descriptions of the [SNC-Lavallin] bid, knowing that our senior leadership ultimately accepted that submission,” he wrote in an email.

“I voted against Stage 2 LRT precisely because I was concerned about the procurement and rush to make a decision. My fears have now been confirmed.”

A number of councillors said privately they are taking the weekend to absorb the documents — which were released at 9 p.m. Thursday, after a marathon emergency transit meeting — and may have more to say next week.

Councillors weren’t the only ones questioning how the bid was approved. At least one resident on Twitter said he wanted to see city councillors hold city staff accountable.

Staff moved bid forward

Despite the technical evaluators’ conclusion that SNC-Lavalin be kicked out of the competition, the city’s senior management team used a discretionary power outlined in a secret clause of the request for proposals that allowed the city to move a bidder forward that did not meet the minimum technical threshold.

SNC-Lavalin was then allowed to proceed to the financial evaluation round and because its bid was so much lower than the other two finalists, it came out on top as the preferred proponent. Council awarded the company the contract last March.

The city’s auditor-general has already looked at the contract procurement process for the second stage of the LRT line and found that the city had broken no rules, a point made in statements sent out from Mayor Jim Watson and O-Train construction director Michael Morgan on Friday.

No city officials could make themselves available to speak to CBC about this story.

With files from Laura Osman

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