Creekside

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Khorasan Group : First there was Mothra ...


Both Syria and Iraq have requested the US not to bomb the shit out of them over ISIS, a group posing no imminent threat to the US, so pretty much the only way Nobel Peace Prize President BamBam could justify doing so would be on the grounds of US self-defence and 3...2...1... voilà ... 





BamBam : “Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.”

And just like that ISIS is sidelined by the newest biggest worstest previously unknown group in the history of the world EVAH - Khorasanus Rex!

However, the following day, after the story had worked its magical justification for bombing Syria ...


Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept : THE FAKE TERROR THREAT USED TO JUSTIFY BOMBING SYRIA

Democracy Now interview with Murtaza Hussain : How the U.S. Concocted a Terror Threat to Justify Syria Strikes, and the Corporate Media Went Along

Chris Hedges : Becoming Hezbollah's Air Force
"In endless war it does not matter whom we fight. Endless war is not about winning battles or promoting a cause. It is an end in itself. In George Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” Oceania is at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia. The alliance then suddenly is reversed. Eurasia becomes an ally of Oceania and Eastasia is the enemy. The point is not who is being fought. The point is maintaining a state of fear and the mass mobilization of the public. War and national security are used to justify the surrender of citizenship, the crushing of dissent and expanding the powers of the state. The point is war itself. And if the American state, once a sworn enemy of Hezbollah, gives air cover to Hezbollah fighters in Syria, the goals of endless war remain gloriously untouched."
h/t Waterbaby for Intercept link      h/t Intercept for NBC tweets.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Steve, plumping for wartime PM

Yesterday at Goldman Sachs in New York in a Q&A with the WSJ editor, Harper seemed keen to give the impression that the US had taken the initiative and come to Canada cap in hand requesting further military contribution in the fight against ISIS in Iraq :



Transcript excerpt :
WSJ : "Would you rule out a military contribution to any effort?"
Harper :"I haven't ruled out ... we haven't ruled out anything."
WSJ : "Has the United States formally asked you to contribute?"
Harper : "The United States just recently in the last couple of days has asked for some additional contribution and we're weighing our response to that."
WSJ : "What are they looking for? More logistical support? More direct military support?"
Harper : "Since they didn't release the letter publicly, I'm not going to do that. I'll just say the Government of Canada will make a decision on that very shortly."
Minister of National Defence Rob Nicholson also gave that impression in the House today:
"We've been very clear - we just recently received this request from the US and of course we will review it."
However, also today : U.S. says Canada offered to help in Iraq – not the other way around
"The United States government says it was Canada that asked what more it could do to help in Iraq – an offer that led to the letter Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he recently received from the U.S. requesting further military help in the fight against ISIS."
Were they referring to this back on August 12? : Harper offers ‘additional help’ to Obama in phone call over crisis in Iraq
"Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed strong support for U.S. air strikes in Iraq during a telephone conversation today with U.S. President Barack Obama ... and expressed Canada’s willingness to do more on the humanitarian aid front."
Or perhaps this editorial by Harper and Stockwell Day about their eagerness to participate in what became a nine year cakewalk in Iraq, published by the Wall Street Journal in 2003:  
Canadians Stand With You : 
"Today, the world is at war. A coalition of countries under the leadership of the U.K. and the U.S. is leading a military intervention to disarm Saddam Hussein. Yet Prime Minister Jean Chretien has left Canada outside this multilateral coalition of nations.
This is a serious mistake. For the first time in history, the Canadian government has not stood beside its key British and American allies in their time of need. The Canadian Alliance -- the official opposition in parliament -- supports the American and British position because we share their concerns, their worries about the future if Iraq is left unattended to, and their fundamental vision of civilization and human values. Disarming Iraq is necessary for the long-term security of the world, and for the collective interests of our key historic allies and therefore manifestly in the national interest of Canada. Make no mistake, as our allies work to end the reign of Saddam and the brutality and aggression that are the foundations of his regime, Canada's largest opposition party, the Canadian Alliance will not be neutral. In our hearts and minds, we will be with our allies and friends. And Canadians will be overwhelmingly with us.
But we will not be with the Canadian government.
Modern Canada was forged in large part by war -- not because it was easy but because it was right. In the great wars of the last century -- against authoritarianism, fascism, and communism -- Canada did not merely stand with the Americans, more often than not we led the way. We did so for freedom, for democracy, for civilization itself. These values continue to be embodied in our allies and their leaders, and scorned by the forces of evil, including Saddam Hussein and the perpetrators of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That is why we will stand -- and I believe most Canadians will stand with us -- for these higher values which shaped our past, and which we will need in an uncertain future."
Messrs. Harper and Day are the leader and shadow foreign minister, respectively, of the Canadian Alliance. 

But no, according to CBC tonight, it was indeed the August phone call : Canada mulls deploying CF-18 jets to join U.S.-led strikes
"The federal cabinet will meet next week to discuss deploying Canada's CF-18 fighter jets to join a U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Sources tell CBC News U.S. President Barack Obama brought the idea of an air war conducted by an international coalition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in August and asked for Canada 's support."
So will Steve finally get his wish to become a war time president PM?
Hey, unlikely anything else would have got Dubya re-elected.
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Update : "If there's a combat mission, I think the prime minister has always been very clear, that would go before Parliament for a vote, that has not changed," Baird told reporters at the United Nations on Thursday, shortly before Stephen Harper spoke to the assembly...


UN screencap via Ben Parsons

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thing is - Paul Calandra is right



Boris    Buckdog   Lorne   Montreal Simon   Canadian Cynic   Kev   Stephen Lautens   Aaron Wherry  

Paul Calandra responds :  

Harper's Parliamentary Secretary Paul Calandra is pleased to use Israel as a shield to avoid answering Mulcair's questions in the House of Commons about Canadian troop deployment in Iraq and we are all rightly appalled at both him and Andrew Scheer.

And yet ... thing is - Calandra is right. 
Questions about the current Canadian mission in Iraq *are* always about "Israel", the Cons' preferred collective term for the various neocon government officials that they like there. 

In 1996, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, who went on to attain key positions in the George W. Bush administration, were working in an Israeli thinktank for Benjamin Netanyahu on Clean Break : A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. It recommended reshaping the Middle East through the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and "the containment of Syria by engaging in proxy warfare". Chaos and destabilization of the whole region, according to their "skittles theory", is the entire point. 

How's that working out so far? When will our Con neocons outgrow their slavering support for a two decades old strategy written in Israel and all the horror of endless reprisals and sectarian warfare it has wreaked on the world since?

Here, on Sept 12 2002 prior to the US invasion of Iraq and the Second Intifitada, Harper's BFF Netanyahu testifies to the US House of Representatives that Saddam Hussein is working on weapons of mass destruction and atomic bombs and urges them to invade Iraq to protect the USA. Nine year *cakewalk* ensues.


Calandra is right that the Con answer to questions about Canadian troop deployment to Iraq is to "stand up for Israel" - although in all likelihood, reading off his little paper from the PMO, he doesn't know why.

Update : The further adventures of Paul Calandra... Power and Politics tonight. 

Evan Solomon : "Do you think it’s your responsibility when you’re answering questions on behalf of the Prime Minister to at least make an attempt to answer on the topic you’re asked, as opposed to completely changing the topic?"

Calandra : "Well, I disagree with you that the topic was changed. The question was about foreign affairs, the question was about our fight against ISIL"



Meanwhile, Harper chose to announce a US request for further Canadian military involvement in Iraq from New York in an interview 
with the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal before a live audience at Goldman Sachs.
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Friday update : Calandra gives weepy apology to the House and takes full responsibility.
"But sources tell CBC News that Calandra was handed material by Alykhan Velshi, director of issues management in the PMO, during the Conservatives' daily preparation for question period and was told to use it in his answer no matter what question was asked in the House."
So if CBC's sources are correct, first they ordered him to do it; then they made him take the fall for it and lie about it. 

Alykhan Velshi - American Enterprise Institute intern, dcomm to Jason Kenney and Baird, Ethical Oil head, Harper's planning director.
Awesome. 



In 2005 Alykhan was an intern at AEI, home to some of the scholars behind the Clean Break strategy for Netanyahu. 

At the time they wrote it in 1997, Velshi literally was in "short pants" but he has since written articles advocating their position re support for Israel and pre-emptive war on Iraq.

Photo : Velshi with Jeane Kirkpatrick at AEI.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

National Monument to Victims of ...





Sept 23, 2015 : Reactions were mixed today as the long awaited National Victims Monument was unveiled on Parliament Hill, but the winning designer couldn't be more pleased with the final result. 
"I was playing with my infant son when the inspiration for the design just came to me", he told assembled reporters. 

After cutting the ribbon and posing for photos, Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched a blistering Cold War style attack on the evils of communism saying its “poisonous ideology and ruthless practices slowly bled into countries around the world. ... That's why we need this monument."

"Hey, if the Communists had not fought so hard and taken such heavy losses there is a good chance we would have lost the second world war," shouted one aged veteran as he was dragged away by security personnel.

The bright red monument can be disassembled for cleaning and features a special plastic finish designed to facilitate the easy removal of graffiti.
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Friday, September 19, 2014

FIPA apples don't fall far from the tree

That one hour trade committee meeting in 2012 that comprised the entirety of public and parliamentary interaction with the Canada-China FIPA provided only a single witness -- Ian Burney, assistant deputy minister for DFAIT’s trade policy and negotiations branch, and some support staff.

Ian Burney is the son of Derek Burney, former Mulroney chief of staff/ NAFTA negotiator and former head of Harper's transition team in 2006, former Canadian ambassador to the US and former Vice Chair of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE). 
tireless plumper for increased North American economic and security integration, Derek Burney is also a director at TransCanada and Chairman of International Advisory Board at GardaWorld"one of the world’s largest privately owned security companies" with operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia, Haiti, Kurdistan, Libya, and Yemen.

Burney père has recently been writing editorials in Canadian media in support of FIPA although CCCE enthusiasm for increased trade with China goes way back.

Burney fils, during his brief Canada-China FIFA briefing to the 2012 trade committee, was obviously proud of both the deal made - the biggest in Canada since his dad worked on NAFTA - and the wide support it enjoyed. Ian Burney :
"There have been public expressions of support from the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, from the CCCE, from the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, from the Canada China Business Council, and the list goes on, including a number of the larger companies that have investments in China now.
I'm not aware of any negative commentary that's come from the business community in Canada."
So we're all good then. Anybody who was anybody liked it.

Except for recent complaints in the G&M two days ago from Chinese state-owned businesses (SOEs) operating in Canada that "Canadian labour costs are too high so they should be able to import their own workers" and also that the "regulatory approval process for resource projects takes far too long and could almost certainly be streamlined and made more efficient", something the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association had already done for them.    G&M :
“Most of the executives we polled expressed dissatisfaction with what they saw as unfair treatment of Chinese SOEs in Canada,” Mr. Zhang wrote, noting that they thought the media did not portray them fairly and that the Canadian public seemed to dislike their investments here, even though they received government support."
Funny thing, that.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Canada-China FIPA Environmental Assessment

Prior to the enactment of the Canada-China FIPA, the Canadian government pushed two omnibus bills through the HoC which included provisions designed to substantially weaken environment policies and regulations, some of them at the behest of a pipeline lobby group : 

G&M : Pipeline industry pushed environmental changes made in omnibus bill
"The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association met with senior government officials in the fall of 2011, urging them [...] to streamline environmental assessments but also to bring in “new regulations under [the] Navigable Waters Protection Act. ... 
In the end, they got almost everything they wanted."
Now we can't put those protections back again for 31 years if they happen to irritate China. But let's look at the "streamlined" environmental assessment done on the FIPA two years ago.  It's a stunner.

There are three stages in conducting an environmental assessment for a trade negotiation like Canada-China FIPA to determine what impact it will have on Canada: 
1) an Initial EA, 2) a Draft EA, and 3) a Final EA.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT)
Final Environmental Assessment of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA)  October 23, 2012
"An Initial Environmental Assessment of the Canada-China FIPA was completed in January 2008. The Government of Canada opened the Initial EA for public comments from February 20 to March 21, 2008. No public comments were received."
So if, like Arthur Dentyou were sitting round in your dressing gown and you didn't happen to know about your one month window of opportunity to comment on a government website about the selling out of your country in 2008, whose fault is that exactly?
"In the light of the Initial EA’s conclusions regarding the unlikelihood of significant environmental impacts in Canada, preparation of a Draft EA was subsequently deemed to be unnecessary.... In this Final EA, the claim that no significant environmental impacts are expected based on the introduction of a Canada-China FIPA are upheld."
Wait. What? "No significant environmental impacts"? 
According to the same EA, there was a 92.4% increase in Chinese investment in Canada from 2008 to 2011. How do you figure there's no accompanying environmental impact from promoting an even greater influx of capital? 
* "As new flows of investment from China into Canada (or Canada into China) cannot be directly attributed to the presence of a FIPA, there can be no causal relationship found between the implementation of such a treaty and environmental impacts in Canada. It is for this reason that the claim made in the Initial EA, that no significant environmental impacts are expected based on the introduction of a Canada-China FIPA, is upheld." *
Wha?  Ok, let me try this one on my own.
If it can't be proven that the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement successfully achieves the goal stated right there in its title of promoting and thereby increasing investment, then FIPA can't be blamed for any environmental impacts.
Therefore there won't be any.

I think the Vogons must have written up this particular EA.

Putting FIPA in context :



Also ... Gus Van Harten in The Tyee : Breaking Down the Harm to Canada Done by Treaty with China 
and at DeSmogBlog : China Investment Treaty "a Straitjacket" for Canada


And I'd missed this angle previously. Canadians thinking of opening a business in China, take note...

In the G&M, a senior fellow at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and special adviser to the Alberta government says Steve's sudden ratification of FIPA in advance of his visit to China in November is connected to needing a barter chip to free two Canadian Christian missionaries jailed in China. 
Kevin and Julia Dawn Garratt, who have operated a cafe in China for three decades, were arrested for spying in retaliation, he suggests, for "Ottawa publicly blaming Beijing this summer for the hacking of Canadian government computers". 

"Kevin Garratt is a devout, active Christian who says that God called him to open a cafe in Dandong."

Previously : Clampetts clownshow distracts from FIPA
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Clampetts clownshow distracts from FIPA


Gosh, was it only five years ago that Alberta Energy spokesman Tim Markle said "Chinese takeover is good news for Alberta", even as Harper was blowing off the Kyoto Accord, supposedly due to China's crappy environmental record, and pledging to build a monument to victims of communism? 

Beginning Oct 1 for the next 31 years until 2045, under the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement Harper just ratified on Friday, Chinese corporations will be able to directly sue the Canadian government for any public interest measures that interfere with their ability to make a profit in Canada. 

Do you think China-owned Nexen, Sinopec, and PetroChina just might consider Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline to be somewhat integral to getting their $30B investment in the tarsands home to China for refining?  
Think Steve can count on Christy Clark to ensure no BC environmental protection laws might harm China's assets?
Think it's an accident Steve released this news on a Friday during the Ford brothers' Clampett Dynasty pitch?

Two years ago in Vladivostok, Harper announced his signing of the FIPA deal with China. MP Don Davies introduced a motion in the House to not ratify it. His motion failed. All the Libs and Cons voted against his motion not to ratify FIPA, including 24 Con MPs from Alberta and 19 from BC.  
You can contact those quislings through this HoC page showing that vote.

NDP Petition : Stop FIPA Now     
Green Party Petition : Stand Up to the Sellout to China          
LeadNow Petition : Stop the Secretive, Reckless & Binding Canada-China FIPA


Council of Canadians : Harper government sneaks through Canada-China FIPA despite ongoing court challenge

The Tyee : FIPA 'is the price China demanded to open its purse strings for investing in the resource sector in Canada.' and 

Harper's Sneaky, Undemocratic, Terrible Deal with China 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

New Conservative ad, now with added bonus tracks

from me, celebrating Stephen Harper's economic record. Fixed it for them.



Blurb accompanying original Con ad : We're better off with Harper

"With over 1.1 million net new jobs since the recession, Canada’s economy is on the right track – thanks to the strong leadership of Stephen Harper and Canada’s Conservatives."
God bless, now.
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Saturday, September 06, 2014

Eleven years and six months later, Steve finally gets his wish


Finally, eh?

A small deployment of 100 "special ops" at first to be sure, but still a significant addition to the ongoing campaign to fund and arm the Mujihadeen, al Qaeda, Al Nusra, ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State, and whoever comes after them next. Blowback. It's a never-ending job. 

Here John bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran McCain poses with Free Syrian Army rebels in 2013, in photos purportedly released by ISIS . McCain disputes claims these men are IS-related. McCain press secretary : "If the individual photographed with Senator McCain is in fact Mohamed Nour, that is regrettable."


"I believe there are ways to get weapons to the opposition without direct United States involvement,” McCain said in 2012 during his Mideast tour with Lindsay Graham. "The bloodshed must be stopped, and we should rule out no option that could help to save lives. We must consider, among other actions, providing opposition groups inside Syria, both political and military, with better means to ... to fight back against Assad’s forces."
In Syria, you see, IS are the good guys fighting against Basher Assad, while across the border in Iraq, they are the bad guys. 

Here they are rolling across the Iraq border in their column of 43 shiny yellow Toyota Hiluxes, allegedly a gift to 'moderates' from the US, in another photo of disputed origins.



Top GOP Senator Lindsey Graham warns of 'inevitable' next attack :
 "The seeds of 9/11s are being planted all over Iraq and Syria". 
Yup. Although technically you're still working off having invaded Iraq after the last one.
"Speaking to reporters at the NATO summit on Friday, Harper condemned the "barbaric acts" of ISIS, the jihadist group behind recent beheadings of American journalists."
Harper offered no comment on the 19 beheadings committed by our ally Saudi Arabia last month - some of them for "sorcery and witchcraft" - presumably because Canada has "two contracts totalling $14.8-billion awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems Canada of London, Ontario for the 2013-14 fiscal year to supply Saudi Arabia with military armoured vehicles."
"The Canadian government hopes that over time, ISIS could be pushed back into Syria"  
where they will be our friends again.

Durka, durka, durka, Steve.

Monday Update : ‘Property of US Govt’: Islamic State jihadists armed with US military weapons
Islamic State fighters appear to be using captured US military issue arms and weapons supplied to moderate rebels in Syria by Saudi Arabia.
 ... “significant quantities” of US-made small arms including M16 assault rifles and included photos showing the markings “Property of US Govt”.
It also found that anti-tank rockets used by IS in Syria were “identical to M79 rockets transferred by Saudi Arabia to forces operating under the Free Syrian Army umbrella in 2013″.
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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Happy Temporary Foreign Workers Labour Day!

Bloomberg, Dec 2010 : Europe’s largest oil-field service provider, Saipem, wins $1 Billion onshore contract from Husky for the Sunrise Energy Project in Canada.

Nine months ago, Fort McMurray Today reported that 270 unionized welders and pipefitters contracted to that Husky Sunrise tarsands project were laid off and replaced by cheaper temporary foreign workers from Mexico, Ireland, Portugal and Italy.

commenter under another FMT article explained:
"We had to conduct a handover to Saipem (a mostly Italian workforce), detailing to them where we had stopped work so that they may continue. In the final week, Saipem foreign workers were actually in the facility working side by side with us; a very uncomfortable situation for those of us about to be laid off."
Yesterday, CBC's Kathy Tomlinson revisited that story : Canadians expose foreign worker 'mess' in oilsands"
"Canadian tradesmen from a huge oilsands construction project are waving a red flag about safety hazards and near misses, which they blame on the use of foreign workers who aren't qualified and can't speak English.
Stand-outs from her report :
  • a foreign worker taking a blowtorch to a propane tank to defrost it
  • Canadians with better qualifications passed over for jobs while foreign workers from Europe continued to show up 
  • foreigner workers arrived without Canadian-standard trade certification but "under government rules, they have a year before they must take their test." after which they can take it again later if they fail,  and 
  • "Probably 75 per cent of [foreign] ironworkers on site were only at the level of a labourer."
  • When refused LMAOs, Saipem used "intra-company transfers" instead [which I wrote about here.] 

But back up a bit. The company that brought in those workers - Italian oil and gas services contractor, Saipem.  Haven't we heard about them before?

Dec. 2012 : Saipem CEO resigns after Algeria corruption probe

July 2013 :Milan court rules Saipem guilty of corruption in Nigeria ... 


"The Italian oilfield services provider said that one of the jack-up rig’s three legs collapsed, causing the rig to suddenly tilt and start taking water. The incident, according to Saipem, occurred during the rig positioning on location between the coasts of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in approximately 40 meters of water. 6 crew members have sustained minor injuries. At approximately 10:30 am CET, the rig, with no personnel on board, capsized and sank. "
Sept. 2013 : Milan prosecutors investigate Saipem for alleged market manipulation and insider trading

May 2014 : RBC Investor and Treasury Services - SAIPEM  - Class Action Notice 
"As a result of the company's untimely disclosures of relevant information, particularly its involvement in an Algerian corruption scandal from 2007 to 2010, and it is alleged that Saipem paid bribes to win a series of contracts worth around $11 billion which led to significant stock drops in January and June 2013. Various (criminal) investigations against Saipem by the Consob, the Italian market regulator, and Italian prosecutors are ongoing."
July 2014 : Australian unions fury at Coalition`s gas job sell-out
"Saipem's enormous pipelay vessel Castorone will start work soon off the Australia coast.  The Government issued a regulation eliminating the need for any worker on a craft not tethered to the Australian mainland to have a work visa. That would free foreign companies with the contracts to lay pipework and other vital infrastructure on huge projects such as the Browse Basin gas field to hire thousands of foreign workers instead of Australians."
Gosh, just like here.
But no, not any of those stories ... 
Ah I remember - it was Arthur Porter, SNC-Lavalin, and Saipem!

In 2005, Saipem won a contract with SNC-Lavalin for the Horizon oilsands project, owned by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.
In 2006, SNC-Lavalin and Saipem awarded "joint partnership contract" to build LNG Terminal in New Brunswick.

Four years laterSNC-Lavalin had signed a deal to award soon-to-be CSIS watchdog Dr. Arthur Porter of Sierra Leone (currently on the lam from Canadian law in Panama) and his company Sierra Assets Management3 payments totaling $10-million for consultancy fees regarding a gas project in Algeria.  The $1.2 billion Rhourde Nouss gas project deal was awarded to SNC-L the same year by Sonatrach, Algeria’s national oil company.

In 2013,  Algerian police raided SNC offices in Algiers regarding "allegations of bribery and kickbacks involving Sonatrach and public officials and agents hired by SNC-Lavalin to procure a number of large infrastructure projects."

G&M February 2013 : SNC-Lavalin bribery probe widens to Algeria :
The investigation focuses on one of the company’s agents in Algeria, Farid Bedjaoui, a jet-setting money manager hired to help secure at least $1-billion in contracts with the country’s state-run oil company, Sonatrach. Mr. Bedjaoui was educated in Montreal and occasionally resides there
Sources close to the investigations in Europe and Canada believe that SNC and the Italian oil services firm Saipem SpA relied on Mr. Bedjaoui, the nephew of former Algerian foreign affairs minister Mohammed Bedjaoui, to obtain contracts from Sonatrach.
Mr. Bedjaoui is one of several foreign agents hired by SNC who have fallen under suspicion for allegedly paying bribes.
Several Saipem executives are under investigation, including the construction unit’s recently suspended chief operating officer, Pietro Varone, who was so close with Mr. Bedjaoui that the two men launched a wine-making company together outside Naples.

Well, I'm sure when we sign off on those investor-state rights trade deals with Europe, CETA and TTIP, all this will go much more smoothly, right?
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