Former Federal Green Fund Director Who Gave Money to Own Companies Resigns From Infrastructure Bank

Former Federal Green Fund Director Who Gave Money to Own Companies Resigns From Infrastructure Bank
Andrée-Lise Méthot, managing partner at Cycle Capital and former board member of two federal investing entities, testifies at a House of Commons committee on Nov. 28, 2023. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times/House of Commons)
Noé Chartier
5/21/2024
Updated:
5/22/2024
0:00

A government-appointed director at the Canada Infrastructure Bank has resigned after being under fire for approving federal green fund money to companies she was invested in while serving as a fund director.

The April 16 resignation of renewable energy venture capitalist Andrée-Lise Méthot was not publicly announced until Housing and Infrastructure Minister Sean Fraser was asked about Ms. Méthot on May 21. Mr. Fraser was testifying before the House of Commons transport and infrastructure committee.

Conservative Party MP Michael Barrett queried Mr. Fraser on whether he endorses Ms. Méthot serving on the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB).

“I actually understand that person has resigned, so there there is no such service to endorse,” said Mr. Fraser, who oversees the Crown corporation as part of his portfolio duties.

Mr. Barrett asked the minister if the resignation was related to the announcement of an investigation. “No, I’ve made no such announcement,” said Mr. Fraser.

Ms. Méthot served on the board of the federal green fund Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) from 2016 to 2021, during which time the arms-length green fund provided millions of dollars to companies she’s invested in. Other SDTC directors did the same and are being investigated by the ethics commissioner.

Ms. Méthot, the founder and managing partner at investment firm Cycle Capital—which employed now-Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault from 2010 to 2019—was appointed to the board of directors of the CIB in late 2022.
Conservatives have accused SDTC of approving $42.5 million for companies Cycle Capital has stakes in. During her testimony before the Commons industry committee on Nov. 28, Ms. Méthot disputed the figure.

She said that while she was an SDTC director, four companies in Cycle Capital’s portfolio received fund money, for a total of $10.7 million. Another Cycle Capital portfolio company had received money from SDTC before she became a board member, she said.

“I recused myself every time I declared a potential or actual conflict of interest. That was the common practice,” she told the committee. Ms. Méthot, however, didn’t recuse herself when SDTC directors voted to approve emergency pandemic payments to portfolio companies.

Ms. Méthot did not return a request for comment by publication time.

CIB spokesperson Ross Marowits told The Epoch Times that Ms. Méthot gave her resignation to interim board chair Jane Bird in April, indicating that she had “decided to step down from her role as a director due to other work commitments.”

The confirmed self-dealing at SDTC was first reported by a whistleblower complaint. During parliamentary committee testimony in December, a whistleblower whose name was withheld said nearly $150 million in taxpayer funds were improperly dished out to private companies, some with direct links to the fund’s top leadership.
In reaction to the allegations and third-party fact-finding, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced in October future funding through SDTC was being put on pause. Mr. Champagne did not announce changes to the leadership, but top executives resigned in the following weeks while under scrutiny, including from MPs in committee.
Annette Verschuren resigned as board chair in December. Ms. Verschuren and former director Guy Ouimet are under investigation by Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein. The commission told the Commons ethics committee the reviews would be concluded before Aug. 1.
Former SDTC CEO Leah Lawrence resigned in November citing a “malicious campaign” against her. She told a House committee in January that then-industry minister Navdeep Bains had approved Ms. Verschuren’s appointment to the board while knowing her own company was being supported by the fund.
The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) has faced its own controversies. Its creation was supported by the Liberal’s now-discontinued Advisory Council on Economic Growth, which was chaired by then-McKinsey consulting firm boss Dominic Barton with McKinsey serving as the council’s secretariat.

Then-president of the Quebec pension fund CDPQ Michael Sabia had worked alongside Mr. Barton on the council.

McKinsey obtained a $1.43 million contract with the CIB after its creation and Mr. Sabia was appointed as bank chair. The largest project of the CIB is the REM light-rail in the Montreal area, with the largest stakeholder being the CDPQ. Current CIB Chief Executive Officer Ehren Cory is a former McKinsey partner.

Editor’s note: the article was updated with a comment from the CIB.