LETTER – Parallels between SNC Lavalin and Mack Laing controversies

Dear editor,

Is it just me or are others seeing the parallels that exist between the SNC Lavalin Affair in Ottawa and our own Mack Laing controversy here in Comox?

Both stories involve a fundamental principle of law. In the case of SNC the central issue is the independence of the judicial system from political interference. In the case of Mack Laing it is the inviolability of a last will and testament.

Both stories involve long-serving senior public servants that have been around so long that they have lost track of their proper role in government. In the case of SNC, Michael Wernick seems to have forgotten that his job is to give advice and take direction from his political masters, not the other way around. In the case of Mack Laing, Richard Kanigan also seems to have forgotten that his role is to provide information and advice to council and act on their policy decisions and directions. It is certainly not his job to predetermine an outcome and apply pressure to ensure that that his desired outcome is realized.

Both stories involve politicians in leadership roles that have failed to demonstrate appropriate leadership on complex and challenging issues. In the case of SNC, Justin Trudeau, who has a penchant for apologizing to everyone, everywhere, all the time, seems to lack the necessary backbone to apologize for his inappropriate and unethical attempt to interfere with a decision of the attorney general. Instead, Trudeau, continues to evade this difficult issue by insisting that it is now in the past and that the government is “moving forward.” In the case of Mack Laing, Russ Arnott has chosen to ignore the Town’s breach of fiduciary responsibilities by failing to execute Mack’s will and properly manage his trust. Rather than owning up to past mistakes made by the Town and invest the time and effort required to find a solution that complies with Mack’s will, Arnott is taking direction from Kanigan and attempting to rewrite the will. Like Trudeau, Arnott is trying to change the channel on by repeating the old political catch phrase, “we are moving forward.”

Both stories involve women of intelligence, strength and integrity standing up for what is right. In the case of SNC, Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould spoke “truth to power” to protect the fundamental principle of the independence of our judicial system. In the case of Mack Laing, Stephanie McGowan, Nicole Minions, and Alexandra Bissinger challenged the Mayor and their fellow councillors to uphold and respect Mack Laing’s will. They have earned our collective respect!

Whether you are on the side of preserving Shakesides or replacing it with a viewing platform, one thing that we can all agree upon is the need to have confidence that the people responsible for executing our last wills and testaments can be trusted to carry out our final wishes. The very idea that non-elected and elected officials in local government would violate the sanctity of a will to serve their own ends is exceedingly repugnant.

Ken McDonald,


Do you have an opinion you’d like to share? Email letters@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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