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Trudeau $8.5 Billion Shipbuilding Deal Shrouded in Secrecy

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Secrecy, Corruption, Backroom deals and Conflicts of interest. These may sound like buzzwords from a scandalous political thriller. But they also describe the real-life actions of Justin Trudeau ‘s Liberal government. The party that promised sunny ways and transparent governance is now pulling down the shades and keeping Canadians in the dark. 

The latest act in this tragicomedy of opacity? Davie Shipyard and its $8.5 billion no-bid contract to build ships for the Royal Canadian Navy. A deal shrouded in mystery, negotiated for undisclosed reasons with a firm whose executives donate heavily to the Liberal Party. 

Now Davie and the Trudeau government have joined forces in court to block the release of any details about this lucrative contract. They are disregarding the public’s right to know how over $8 billion of taxpayer funds are being spent.

This insult to transparency is just the tip of the iceberg. From lavish handouts to corporations to unethical meddling in the justice system, Trudeau’s Liberals have repeatedly embraced secrecy and rejected accountability.

The reality fails to match the rhetoric. The noble promises of openness look more and more like empty slogans. Behind closed doors, insider access and political self-interest rule the day.  

How did we get here? What does the Davie Shipyard debacle reveal about Trudeau’s real priorities? Who is his government really serving? 

The recent revelation that Davie Shipyard is suing the federal government to prevent the release of details about its $8.5 billion shipbuilding contract shines a harsh light on the culture of secrecy and lack of transparency that has come to define Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.

According to reports, after signing an “Umbrella Agreement” with Davie in April 2023 that opened the door for the company to bid on billions in shipbuilding contracts, the government received an Access to Information request seeking disclosure of the deal. However, Davie does not want any part of the agreement made public and has asked the Federal Court to block the government from releasing any portion of it, claiming the entire document contains confidential commercial information. 

This latest attempt to hide information from the Canadian public raises serious questions about the government’s commitment to openness and accountability.

When Trudeau came to power in 2015, he promised his government would be open and transparent. He told Canadians, “Government and its information should be open by default.” Yet time and again, his government has failed to live up to this promise. The Davie Shipyard case is just the latest example.

By trying to block the release of the contract through an access to information request, Davie and the Liberal government are essentially telling Canadians that we have no right to know the details of how billions of our tax dollars are being spent. They are saying that lucrative government contracts can be negotiated behind closed doors without any public scrutiny. This is unacceptable in a democratic society. 

The government will no doubt argue that certain commercial details in the contract must be kept confidential. But that is not a justification for complete secrecy. There is an obligation to disclose as much information as possible about the substance of the deal, including details about requirements for economic benefits to Canada. The public has a right to know that its money is being well spent.

The lack of transparency in this case mirrors the Liberals’ approach to many other files. Let’s recall the WE charity scandal, where a billion-dollar student grant contract was awarded without competition to an organization with close ties to Trudeau’s family. Or the SNC-Lavalin affair, where Trudeau and his staff repeatedly pressured the Justice Minister to offer a deferred prosecution agreement to the Montreal-based firm. In both cases, Trudeau’s government resisted transparency and worked to shield its actions from public scrutiny.  

The Davie Shipyard deal itself also warrants further examination. The contract was awarded without any competitive bidding process, which raises concerns about potential political favoritism. 

The timing and location of this deal raise red flags about the Liberals’ motivations. Davie Shipyard is conveniently based in Quebec, a province absolutely vital to Trudeau’s re-election prospects. Announcing this massive contract just months before the federal election seems strategically targeted to influence Quebec voters. Perhaps even more concerning are potential conflicts of interest related to campaign financing. Could Liberal-friendly Davie executives be funneling money into party coffers in return for this lucrative contract? Are wealthy insiders gaining special access and government largesse? The complete secrecy surrounding the deal means we can only speculate about possible ethical lapses. 

More broadly, the Davie Shipyard case calls into question the Liberals’ commitment to making the government’s shipbuilding strategy transparent and accountable. This massive, multi-billion dollar program to renew the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard fleets was supposed to be governed by fair and open competitions. Yet the evidence suggests political considerations are influencing contracting decisions under Trudeau’s watch.   

The government’s shipbuilding plan warrants full transparency and oversight, not secrecy and backroom deals. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent to equip our naval and coast guard forces for decades to come. If contracts are awarded unethically, or managed improperly, it could leave our maritime security forces vulnerable. Canadians deserve to have insight into how such enormous sums of public money are being spent.

In discussions of transparency, Trudeau and his ministers are quick to criticize past Conservative governments. But when it comes to their own actions, secrecy and opacity seem to prevail. This hypocrisy is unacceptable. If Trudeau truly believes in transparent government, he must not allow Davie Shipyard to block the release of this contract. 

This lack of transparency and hypocrisy is not limited to the Davie Shipyard deal. The Trudeau government has repeatedly failed to be open and accountable when spending taxpayer money. For example, after handing out over $28 billion in subsidies to auto giants Volkswagen and Stellantis, Trudeau now claims there is no money left when Honda requests incentives for a $18.4 billion electric vehicle battery plant.

This contradictory position demonstrates the Liberals’ lack of a coherent strategy when subsidizing foreign companies with billions in public funds. Just as with the Davie contract, the government seems to make ad hoc spending decisions behind closed doors without adequate transparency. There is a clear pattern emerging of fiscal irresponsibility and secrecy that breaks trust with Canadians. The Liberals under Trudeau are hardly models of openness and accountability.

Trudeau likes to say that sunny ways and open dialogue are hallmarks of his leadership. But too often, his actions have not aligned with his lofty rhetoric. While the Liberals frequently boast about their commitment to transparency, the reality fails to match the rhetoric. The Davie Shipyard secrecy, and the broader lack of openness we have seen from this government, is deeply troubling.  

Canadians expect 21st century transparency and accountability from their government. Especially when it comes to massive expenditures like naval contracts. The effort to block access to details of the Davie Shipyard deal is a very troubling sign that the Trudeau Liberals have a lot to hide. 

Trudeau claims to be working for the middle class. But hiding an $8.5 billion contract from public scrutiny seems to suggest otherwise. Whose interests is his government really serving? The Davie Shipyard case raises suspicions that wealthy insiders and political cronies are being favored over everyday Canadians.

In the 2015 election, Trudeau asked Canadians to trust him. But trust must be earned through actions, not just words. The lack of transparency from the Liberals makes it difficult to trust Trudeau’s government. Canadians did not give Trudeau a mandate to govern secretly and unethically behind closed doors.  

It is time for this Liberal government to start truly walking the talk when it comes to openness. That means revealing details of the Davie Shipyard contract instead of joining the company in court to hide information. It means empowering the Access to Information system instead of undermining it. And it means real accountability to Canadians instead of broken promises.

The Liberals under Trudeau seem to have forgotten that they govern for the people, not for themselves. The Davie Shipyard transparency debacle is just the latest indication that much greater openness and accountability is urgently needed in Ottawa. Canadians deserve a government that works for them, not for private interests. The culture of secrecy and opacity surrounding the shipbuilding contract must end.

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