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Bombardier has been accused by the World Bank of allegedly using corruption and collusion to win a rail-signalling contract in Azerbaijan.


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In the penalty box …

The proverb says: Sleep with dogs, get fleas. In your story, alleged Russian crooks are the bed mates and the result would be far worse than fleas (World Bank Accuses Bombardier Of Corruption, May 10).

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Why is that?

1) The World Bank agreed in 2011 with the other four major international financing institutions (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asia Development Bank, African Development Bank and Inter-American Development Bank) that each must recognize each other’s anti-corruption sanction regime – debarment. So, if sanctioned, Bombardier would be cut off from many markets, worldwide, respecting any project financed by any of them, and for as long as 10 years.

2) None of these “Big Five” banks need charge any company or individual with any crime, or prove any case in any court. They make their own rules for fighting corruption. Their sanction – debarment – is their own business.

3) Need an example? Consider SNC-Lavalin, previously debarred for 10 years by the Big Five for alleged corruption in Bangladesh and Cambodia. That’s in addition to current notorious criminal charges arising from its Libya adventures. (As we know, conviction for those would also cut it off from Canadian federal government projects for 10 years, under current procurement policies.)

That’s why.

Michael Robinson, former board member, Transparency International (Canada)


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Allegedly using government contracts as a way to garner votes; pursuing Vice-Admiral Mark Norman for two years with public funds, then dropping the case before an election … really?!

Another fine Canadian company – Bombardier – allegedly caught with its paws in the world’s piggy bank ... really?! (World Bank Accuses Bombardier Of Corruption, May 10).

Maybe Canadians need to hear it in language that’s easier to understand: We’re in the penalty box, kids. We’re not playing by the rules; bribing and cheating is bad (and nobody wants to play with people who think a little corruption here and there is okay). And if we’re in the box so often, we won’t win the game. There won’t be any free pizza and beer down at the local pub, and we will be sad.

Maybe we need to put on our big-kid pants, raise the bar a notch, and stop accepting the traditional, old-style politics with a roll of our eyes and a helpless shrug. Demand that our politicians earn our votes, our contracts – not buy them.

We’ll all be better for it. Really.

Christine Reissmann, Ottawa

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Basic competence

A common thread in the stories behind so many of your headlines in recent months has been the failure of Canada’s public service and court systems to do what is needed in a timely fashion. Be it delayed trials, botched investigations, the implementation of software, the running of call centres, the provision of clean water to First Nations or thoughtful action with respect to foreign visitors, Canada fails.

Surely it is time for royal commissions to be established to see how basic competence can be restored. That would be a surprising and wonderful legacy for Justin Trudeau to offer the country at the end of his first term in office.

David Allen, Edmonton

Um, following the money

Re More Than $7-Billion Of Dirty Money Flowed Through B.C. In 2018 (May 10): How can we say Canada is not doing enough to track down money laundering and tax evasion?

After all, last year my 103-year-old mother-in-law, whose gross income for the year was $36,257, was audited by Canada Revenue.

It’s a start!

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Brian Rogers, Victoria

In the spirit of being mom

Re Let’s Value All Women (First Person, May 10): Mother-Daughter Day instead of Mother’s Day?

In the spirit of being a mother and giving so much of ourselves, I guess it is only fitting that we are asked to share again when it comes to our special calendar day.

Sarah Timney, Mississauga

Carbon: both/and

Re Why Progressives Should Reject The Carbon Tax (May 9): Paul Abela’s column falls into the trap of “either/or” thinking that has surely been shown by now to lead to further polarization and politicization of an issue – climate change – which should be neither.

It is not helpful to argue that a carbon tax is “regressive” and “reprehensible,” and that shifting the tax burden to the fossil fuel industry is the solution to paying for measures to address climate change. Of course a carbon emissions tax should be placed on the extraction and processing of fossil fuel, and the tax should be a high one.

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So how about some “both/and” thinking here instead of “either/or” ? If I consume fossil fuels, I should pay for that consumption. If industry extracts or consumes carbon, it should pay for it, too.

Either/or posturing has led to failure after failure to address climate change. It could hardly make things worse to try another, more expansive and inclusive strategy.

Nancy Bjerring, London, Ont.


Acadia University’s Paul Abela nailed it in his description of the difficulties with the carbon tax. It shifts the financial burden onto the shoulders of those who can least afford it.

Canada’s taxation regime has a checkered record. New forms of taxation have been promised to address one issue, but are then diverted to address other “priorities.” Income tax itself was originally imposed to assist with wartime costs in the Great War, and is now a permanent fixture. Tax revenue to a government is like heroin to an addict.

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Tim Dunne, Halifax

Pass it to ya

Re Raptors Teeter On Edge Of Disaster (Sports, May 10): The culmination of Canadian excellence in basketball and song craft is Kawhi Leonard (Cohen).

Consider this song:

Pass It To Ya

I’ve heard there was a secret court,

Where David played against the Lord

But you don’t have someone to pass to,

Or do ya?

Give Northern fans your ring to kiss,

Or would you rather move to Los Angeles?

The cold here in the winter

It tattoos ya.

Pass it to ya

Pass it to ya …

You’re simply better than all the rest

You had Nick Nurse get you some rest

Then jumped over seven-foot dudes, yeah.

Five-, four-, three-point swish

You put the sugar in the dish

Go to the hoop

For one more alley-oop, yeah.

Pass it to ya

Pass it to ya …

Howard Buckstein, Toronto

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