Guest columnist’s standing defended

Black Press owner writes to refute disparaging comments about Gwyn Morgan

I write today to defend the reputation of Gwyn Morgan, one of Canada’s top businessmen and a Victoria resident.

Gwyn wrote a column prior to the election that encouraged us to vote Liberal for economic reasons. The thesis was that our quality of life, including needed environmental improvements, depends on good jobs and a strong economy. I thought the column was excellent and asked that it be published.

After the election, the News published a Letter to the Editor disparaging Gwyn and complaining that the column should not have been run. In particular the writer pilloried Gwyn for SNC-Lavalin’s bribery scandal.

I have known Gwyn for a long time. He is a fine upstanding man. His columns run regularly in the Globe and Mail. I think he is the best business columnist we have in Canada today.

As an engineer, not a financier, Gwyn built the biggest oil and gas company in Canada. He has also served on numerous boards of directors, one of which was SNC-Lavalin, a worldwide engineering and construction company based in Montreal.

SNC has 33,000 employees and does $8 billion of business each year. On Gwyn’s watch as chairman of the board, SNC was found to have been paying bribes to get business. Top executives were let go.

I have served on boards, though none the size of SNC. Almost all information comes to boards from company executives. If they don’t tell directors the truth and if company auditors, who randomly sample past invoices and payments don’t catch a problem, boards don’t either.

Gwyn didn’t step down when the scandal broke. He stayed on and led the cleanup of the company. In my view, executives like Gwyn should be praised, not slandered.

David Black

Oak Bay

Editor’s note: David Black is the owner of Black Press, publisher of the Victoria News, Saanich News, Oak Bay News, Goldstream News Gazette, Sooke News Mirror, Peninsula News Review and more than 190 other publications across North America.