The National Post’s Brian Hutchinson and Theresa Tedesco lay-out a jaw-dropping story on how ex-Liberal PM Jean Chretien was working deals between the Heenan Blaikie law firm and African strongmen:
The stunning collapse of Heenan Blaikie LLP, once one of Canada’s largest and most prestigious law firms, stemmed from a “loss of trust” in management over international business activities including dubious forays into Africa, where former partner Jacques Bouchard and former prime minister Jean Chrétien lobbied governments on behalf of clients, former Heenan partners and associates say.
And that this led to the collapse of Heenan Blaikie:
But many also agree that Heenan’s excursions into Africa caused so much tension and tumult that partners began shaking their heads and taking their leave. “People like me said to themselves, ‘I want to work at a firm that values the practice of law in Canada, not international dictators,’” another former Heenan partner told the National Post. “It’s not what I signed up for.” He quit the firm last year.
And look who Chretien was making deals with:
At Heenan, the two [Chretien and Bouchard] busied themselves on the firm’s new African mandate, drumming up business for clients involved in mining and energy sectors, and visiting with heads of state, including Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe.
As well as:
According to an agreed statement of facts filed last year in the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, GEI —a Calgary-based company that acquired oil and gas properties in Chad — directed US$2-million to the wife of Chad’s ambassador to the United States and Canada.
In 2009, GEI enlisted Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Bouchard to help advance its interests in the notoriously corrupt central African country. Neither Mr. Chrétien, nor Mr. Bouchard, nor anyone else at Heenan Blaikie was ever accused of participating in the crime, which culminated Feb. 8, 2011 with the illicit payment. By then, GEI was working with a different law firm. Prior to the end of their relationship, Heenan had advised GEI that such a payment would be illegal. (see here)
I’m finding it pretty damn hard digesting that a former Canadian prime minister was running around some of the most corrupt countries in the world making deals with dictators and no one knew about it?