By Anthony Capkun
October 11, 2016 – I was surprised to read the article extolling the design virtues of the MUHC project within the latest Electrical Business magazine. Unless someone has been under a rock, it’s quite public knowledge that SNC is under corruption and fraud charges for this very project.
So begins an email I received from a reader who took offense at our July 2016 cover feature, “What do you get from almost 1000 electrical plans?”, which explored the massive Glen Site, the newest addition to the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).
I cannot say exactly when the dark cloud appeared over the MUHC project, but it started at least a few years ago. In September 2014, the National Post reported
Authorities allege that ex-SNC-Lavalin executives funnelled money to former McGill hospital officials in exchange for the $1.3-billion contract. (tinyurl.com/j64a4hf)
In April of this year, CBC reported
Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin is suing [MUHC] for $330 million over the contract to build the new McGill superhospital. (tinyurl.com/jrkgpam)
So the project is, to put it mildly, troubled, which begs the question: As storytellers, do we blacklist projects and refuse to speak of them because of suspicious activity? For that matter, how suspicious is too suspicious? Where do we draw the line?
According to the offended reader,
I do have to question the wisdom in publishing an article promoting the technological merits of a project acquired by circumspect methods.
I sympathized with the reader until that sentence, because I believe the bricks-and-mortar facets of the project are, in fact, worthy of discussion. (If you haven’t read it already, you can find the edition in our online Archive at EBMag.com/digital)
And what about the designers, contractors and installers? Should they all hang their heads in shame and never speak of their hard work on this project because of someone else’s alleged suspicious activity?
That doesn’t seem quite fair.
After the legal dust clears—and regardless of whether anyone goes to prison—this project will remain built and still be used. So we will continue to share stories of what we hope are noteworthy projects and technologies, and leave legal matters to the courts.
— Anthony Capkun, Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org •