Arthur Porter’s Death in Panama Leaves Questions Unanswered

Arthur Porter’s Death in Panama Leaves Questions Unanswered

Quebec City (Quebec) 5 July 2015 – Last Wednesday, authorities at the Panamanian prison holding Dr. Porter announced his death.  The announcement was confirmed by his wife later that day.

Dr. Arthur Porter has been called the man behind the “greatest fraud in Canadian history” for his part in allegedly receiving 22.5M$ in bribes.  The bribes would have allowed SNC-Lavalin to win a 1.3B$ contract to build the new McGill University Health Centre through what was essentially a rigged bidding process.

The scandal erupted in the world of politics, where Dr. Porter was no stranger.  He had strong connections to several highly-placed federal and provincial government officials.  Among these, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had appointed Dr. Porter chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee of Canada in 2008, a position from which he oversaw the activities of the Canada Security Intelligence Services, Canada’s spy agency.  He resigned amid controversy in December 2011 when the National Post revealed his ongoing business dealings with questionable partners, including lobbyists close to the Sierra Leone government and a former Israeli arms dealer arrested for illegally attempting to sell military equipment to Iran.

Dr. Porter also served as director and CEO of the McGill University Health Centre from 2004.  His appointment took place despite warnings from his previous employers of his complex multiple side-businesses.  He completed his second term in December 2011, when the SNC-Lavalin contract had already been awarded.  He would later found a business which listed both himself and current Québec Premier Philippe Couillard – then working as a doctor in private practice – as partners.  This business would never lead to concrete projects but has raised many questions about the relationship between Premier Couillard and Arthur Porter.  In one heavily-publicised instance, Dr. Couillard referred to Dr. Porter as his “good friend”, though the Premier has since distanced himself from Dr. Porter and only describes him as “an acquaintance”.

Following the announcement of Dr. Porter’s death, Parti Québécois leader Pierre Karl Péladeau took to Facebook to ironically offer Premier Couillard his “condolences” on the death of his “good friend”, uploading several well-known pictures of the two together during business events and linking to the inactive social media profile of their joint business.  Critics were quick to condemn M. Péladeau’s act as inappropriate.

Dr. Porter, along with his wife, were arrested in Panama in February 2013.  Since then, Dr. Porter has fought extradition attempts to return him to Canada and face trial and denied all wrong-doing.  Dr. Porter, an oncologist, had self-diagnosed lung cancer and had been receiving treatment under guard in a Panama hospital for the past six weeks.

His death certificate was signed by his attending physician, Dr. Karol Sikora, who said Dr. Porter died alone.  Dr. Sikora also says he did not personally see the body, leading UPAC anti-corruption investigators assigned to his case to suspect a ruse.  UPAC officers have therefore been dispatched to Panama to confirm Dr. Porter’s death through fingerprinting and DNA analysis.

(Pictured: Model of the completed MUHC, behind the 1.3B$ fraud allegedly orchestrated by Dr. Porter)

Categories: Politics

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