By Anthony James Hall
The International Mining Pariah, Barrick Gold, Has Many Deep and Incestuous Relationships with Republican Party Politicians and Their Canadian Counterparts. Barrick’s Barricudas Include George H.W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, Brian Mulroney, John Baird, and Nigel Wright. Canada’s PM, Stephen Harper, Has Empowered Barrick’s Operatives to Help Rig Canada’s Federal Election Campaign. Harper Gave Barrick’s Peter Munk Control Over the Leaders’ Debate on Canadian Foreign Policy at a Time When Canada’s Reputation Internationally Has Never Been So Tarnished. There are Many Reasons For the Sharp Decline in International Esteem, Not the Least of Which is Because Canada’s Thuggish Conduct as the World’s Mining Superpower.
The Debate Engineering by the Munk PR Machanics is Meant to Help Keep Contained the Stench of Scandal Swirling Around Two of Harper’s Key Operatives. The Tainted Duo, Comprised of Canada’s Former Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, and Harper’s Former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, Are Also Barrick Operatives. Another Aim of the Rigged Debate is to Divert Attention Away From the Manipulation of False Flag Terrorism Especially Now That the Harper Government Has Been Caught Helping ISIL With Recruitment.
Stephen Harper and the Closing of the Canadian Mind
A strong suggestion of fin du régime emanates from Stephen Marche’s essay, “The Closing of the Canadian Mind.” The New York Times published this item in mid-August just as Nigel “good to go” Wright was giving his long awaited testimony in the Mike Duffy trial.
The essay’s historic significance extends far beyond its Canadian subject matter. The think piece is emblematic of the end of a long cycle of neoconservative dominance in public discourse introduced in 1987 by Allan Bloom in his iconographic The Closing of the American Mind.
Bloom called for a return to the classic texts of Western Civilization and a turn away from pedagogy highlighting the evils of colonization, race and patriarchy. Marche’s contribution points to the failure of an intellectual project that morphed into a Dark Age of “know nothing conservatism” in Canada. In Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s realm, the “active promotion of ignorance” prevails. “The author adds, “All this secrecy and informational control have been at the service of no larger vision of the country.”
For Marche, the closing of the Canadian mind is epitomized by Harper’s burning of libraries, his muzzling of federal scientists, his termination of the federal long form census and an all-round hostility to any form of transparency and full disclosure in his conduct of the nation’s business.
Harper’s preoccupation with secrecy and control became especially surreal in the opening weeks of the federal election campaign. As Mike Duffy’s famed lawyer, Donald Bayne, expertly exposed the corrupt operations of the Prime Minister’s Office, Stephen Harper robotically repeated day after day the same implausible account of his own supposed isolation from the bribery scandal.
Ignoring in his daily campaign stops even the damning public testimony of his own lawyer, Benjamin Perrin, Harper assumed the guise of a dutiful disciplinarian who had turned Duffy into the cops and fired Wright for committing wrongs that in no way implicated him.
It is unclear how much longer Harper’s friends in the federal police force will extend to him and his accomplices stay-out-of-jail cards in the rigged Monopoly of Canada during the Harper years. As Andrew Coyne has observed, the whole matter highlights how deeply dishonesty has become embedded in our political culture. “The lies are so habitual, so instinctive, so much a part of the normal run of things that no one seems to think them even unusual, let alone unacceptable.”
The Barrick Flag Ship of Canada’s “Extractive Industries”
Harper has had the assistance of many allies and beneficiaries in the elaborate scheme to dull, incapacitate and close many Canadian minds. The Barrick Gold Company is one of the most corrupt centres of opportunism in Harpers circle of assets, hangers on, patrons and clients. Orbiting around the Barrick mother ship is an array of propaganda satellites that are deceptively presented as agencies of higher education and public affairs.
Barrick Gold has been lead navigator for an elaborate network of international “extraction industries.” Largely because of lax regulation and enforcement mechanisms in the stock exchanges of Vancouver and Toronto, Canada presently leads the world as the preferred headquarters for the transnational “extractive sector.” The core of Barrick’s business model is the trade in insider information. Strategic data is regularly brought to Barrick especially by former politicians seeking to cash in on their privileged access to state secrets and global contacts acquired in the days when they held public office.
Prominent among this genre of Barrick operative have been the former US President, George H.W. Bush, the former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, and, most recently, John Baird.
Just one month before the former Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister resigned suddenly from politics to follow Bush and Mulroney onto Barrick’s International Advisory Board, Baird handed over in early 2015 $9 million to a Barrick-related agency. The recipient of this heavily politicized handoff of public funds was the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. This institute has become a corporate Trojan Horse engineered to give a veneer of academic respectability to power-serving agendas.
The stench of conflict-of interest permeates every aspect of Baird’s handoff of federal funds. The amount involved is 100 times greater than the $90,000 check that lies at the heart of the Duffy trial. The RCMP alleges that this check was a bribe when received by Mike Duffy, but not when it was delivered by Harper’s Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright.
George H. W. Bush’s Role in Jumping Barrick
from Obscurity to Dominance in the Global Gold Business
In Barrick’s own corporate publicity Peter Munk is described as its founder. Even superficial research reveals, however, that the primary founder of the Barrick operation was the notorious CIA asset and Saudi arms merchant, Adnan Khashoggi. Munk was inserted to replace the flamboyant Saudi playboy as Barrick’s primary public face once Khashoggi was made to become a fall guy in the Iran-Contra scandal. This episode exposed some sordid aspects of the US executive branch’s illegal activities during Ronald Reagan’s second term as US President in the late 1980s.
When he was in the Oval Office and in the years following his one-term US presidency, George Bush Sr. played a major role in the rise of Barrick’s fortunes. By virtually gifting Barrick the USA’s most lucrative gold mine on federal land in Nevada, Bush kick started a progression that projected the Canadian company in the 1990s from obscurity to dominance in the shrouded mysteries of money manipulation that permeate the global gold business.
In an effort to help wipe clean the infamy connected to his tainted fortune, Munk has plastered his name on philanthropies that conspicuously dominate key vistas of Toronto’s urban landscape. Prominent among his institutional progeny are the Munk Debates and the Munk School of Global Affairs. Both these enterprises are in fact cockpits for neocon lobbying and spin doctoring.
Many of Harper’s most controversial policies have been sold and implemented with the help of the Munk stable of institutes. Indeed, the Munk School and the Munk Debates have helped to dumb down, contain and slant public discourse. In the language of Stephen Marche, their role has been to contribute to the dulling, deceiving and closing the minds of many Canadians.
Excluding Women’s Voices From Debates
Is Profoundly Anti-Democratic
Stephen Marche leads off his New York Times essay by describing the upcoming Oct. 19 election in Canada as an event that Stephen Harper “doesn’t want anyone to talk about.” As an example of this effort to blunt critical scrutiny and commentary on Harper’s policies, Marche highlights the PM’s decision “not to participate in the traditional series of debates on national television, confronting his opponents [instead] in quieter, less public venues, like the Munk Debates.”
The finding in 2011 that put Harper in “contempt of Parliament” is being extended in the PM’s decision to overthrow established traditions of televised electoral debates with contenders for the country’s top job. In place of a series of debates overseen by a consortium of the country’s major broadcasters, including the besieged public broadcaster the CBC, Harper has adopted a format he has engineered along with his political friends for partisan advantage.
As Geoffrey Rafe Hall explains in iPolitics, the debating format was “designed to deliver a clear message that any debates would be on the PM’s terms, that the PMO would control and thereby shape the message.” The willingness of most of Canada’s punditry class to go along with this undermining of even a pretence of neutrality and objectivity in the structure of electoral debates has caused one media observer, Jason Koblovsky, to exclaim, “our democratic system looks more like a Third World two bit operation than a thriving democracy which depends on a free independent press.”
Elizabeth May may agree. Now entering her third federal election campaign, the Leader of the Green Party of Canada is emerging as Canada’s most high-profile whistle blower on Harper’s rapid disassembly of Canada’s
democratic system, imperfect as it may be. May has pointed out that the current PM has refused to debate in an event hosted by Canada’s public broadcaster and by the other private broadcasters. To add insult to injury the NDP Leader, Tom Mulcair, has joined with Stephen Harper in a response whose effect is to shut down a planned leaders’ debate on women’s issues that was to have taken place on September 21.
May’s whistle blowing on the rigged format of televised leaders’ debate has conjured up memories of the massive turn in public opinion in the late 1980s against Brian Mulroney’s plan to amend Canada’s constitution. One of the reasons for this popular revolt against the Meech Lake accord, the political instrument for a proposed alteration in Canada’s highest law, was the realization that it had been negotiated by an all-male panel of First Ministers.
On Aug. 25 Elizabeth May responded to the most recent round of female-excluding decisions on high. She asserted, “As the only woman leader of a federal party, I know women have deep concerns about all areas of public policy. Excluding women’s voices from debates is profoundly anti-democratic, yet the Conservatives and the NDP have now signaled repeatedly that the leaders’ debates they prefer are those with no woman present.”
Barrick Gold Hosts a Debate When It Should Be
A Major Subject of Debate
The Munk Debates will host the televised federal election debate on foreign policy issues at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto on September 28. The Munk School of Global Affairs will contribute to the process of formulating questions. Dr. Janice Stein, the Founding Director of the Munk School, is currently on the Advisory Board of the Munk family’s Aurea Foundation that oversees the Munk Debates.
The Munk School and the Munk Debates should be precluded from hosting any electoral debate on foreign affairs among leaders of the federal parties because the Barrick Corporation is the source of the golden egg that hatched the Munk entities. Barrick’s exploitative mining operations in many countries throughout the world are, in the words of the activists of the Munk Out of U of T campaign, subject to accusations of “human rights violations, labour violations, environmental devastation and/or corruption.”
Yves Engler has identified the obvious conflict of interest in allowing a PR offshoot of a Canadian mining conglomerate to host a debate on Canadian foreign affairs at a time when Canada’s extractive industries are at the centre of a broad array of international contentions. In rabble.ca Engler writes, “while Canada’s status as a global mining superpower ought to be part of a foreign policy debate, don’t expect any discussion of regulating mining activities abroad on September 28…. Nor should we expect discussion about matters likely to embarrass the military or major corporations.”
Such topics will most likely be papered over because, as Engler predicts, a real spotlight on the reason for Canada’s dwindling stature and reputation internationally “might offend billionaire Peter Munk.” Munk is the real behind-the-scenes host of the mano a mano election debate on foreign affairs.
As John Baird knows well from his own extensive ministerial involvement with the relevant files, Barrick’s activities are themselves the subject of major turmoil and contention in the conduct of Canadian foreign policy. For instance, widely-reported revelations of environmental degradation together with Barrick’s corruption of Chilean politicians to promote the Canadian gold companies disastrous Pascau Lama project have energized an upsurge of condemnations blackening Canada’s reputation throughout Latin America.
The growing web of international controversy is extending to transnational networks of police forces, media, courts, government ministries, financiers and politicians. The prominent individuals being drawn into this maelstrom include former Canadian PM Brian Mulroney, former Chilean President Ricardo Largos, banker Andronico Luksic Jr, and Peter Munk himself. How can the Munk Debates offer a platform of credible neutrality for a leaders’ debate on Canadian foreign policy when Barrick Gold has become such a toxic vehicle of Canada’s relationship with the global community?
“Corporate Social Responsibility” as a
Code for Government Deregulation
Steven Toope is the current director of the Munk School who ducked out of the presidency of UBC as the office was about to blow up in broadly publicized infamy. Sensing trouble ahead in his new job, Dr. Toope has tried to distance the University of Toronto from Stephen Harper’s decision to place the Munk institutes at the core of political exchange in the run up to the next federal election. Peter Munk himself, however, has worked at cross-purposes with Dr. Toope’s cautious manoeuvring.
In a Munk Debates press release, Peter Munk has emphasized the overlapping character of the Munk Debates and the Munk School in the forthcoming electoral ritual. Speaking on behalf of his wife and himself, Munk commented, “Whether it is the support we provide to the Munk School at the University of Toronto or the creation of the Munk Debates through the Aurea Foundation, Melanie and I are committed to broadening public knowledge, education, and informed discourse.”
Munk’s reference to the role of the University of Toronto in his enterprises seemingly gives credibility to the financier’s claim that his institutional namesakes are more about enlightening minds than shutting down critical and adventurous thought. This surface appearance, however, does not stand up to closer scrutiny.
The fact is that the University of Toronto like most other academic institutions in the Western world are suffering major funding shortfalls under the austerity programs that the neoconservative agenda has imposed on most public institutions. While national governments have been pressured to extract themselves from funding public health, public education and social services, they have been subjected to enormous new pressures to open funding spigots for military, police and surveillance operations.
The squeezing of public funding for universities has made these entities more dependent on the so-called private sector, a dependency that the likes of Peter Munk and other plutocrats of his ilk are exploiting with a vengeance. These captains of industry and finance are taking advantage of the very vulnerabilities in public institutions that they have themselves have helped to create and compound.
The major surgery being performed on the academic guts of University of Toronto, an institution meant to be a bastion of Canadian civilization, is in fact a kind of cannibalism devouring the public interest and the common good. Munk has set disastrous precedents by asserting inappropriate influence over the curriculum together with the hiring, research, publication, tenure and promotion decisions that lie at the very core of the academic mission of genuine universities.
The shape of things to come was signalled in 1997 when the University of Toronto bestowed an honorary Ph.D on former US President George H. W. Bush at the behest of the primary beneficiaries of the Barrick Gold Company. Peter Munk and the interests he embodies gradually extended their influence from there. The Munk interests infiltrated the academy, imposing increased corporate control over the study of international affairs at the U of T.
Marketa Evans was an important scout in the quest to advance the Munk interests through manipulation of the machinery of academic governance. This Director of the Munk Centre of International Studies, the prelude to the Munk School of Global Affairs, introduced the buzz phrase, “corporate social responsibility” into the curriculum. This seemingly benign turn of phrase is meant to obfuscate the real agenda of removing government regulation from the international activities of many hundreds of Canadian-based companies in the so-called “extractive sector.”
Evans helped publicize and legitimize the Munk agenda of corporate deregulation through a series of meetings bringing corporate spokesmen together with members of NGOs to share perspectives on the international future of Canadian-based mining operations at home and abroad. This series of exchanges, known as the Devonshire Initiative, will deserve careful attention when the history is someday written of the role of the academy’s corporatization in the dulling and closing of the Canadian mind.
In 2009 Evans was hired by the Harper government as a “counsellor” assigned to glaze over the replacement of government regulation and enforcement with voluntarism. Rather than requiring extractive companies to adhere to a rules-based system, the Canadian government interpreted the Munk Centre’s Devonshire Initiative to mean that cubs’ honour promises of good corporate citizenship would suffice. No Canadian government policing of the extractive operations of Canadian companies outside Canada was required.
The process of removing legal conditions for the extractive activities of resource companies is giving Canada a black eye in many parts of the world suffering the predatory incursions of Barrick Gold and those many companies following its lead.
As Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks have outlined in The Trouble With Billionaires, Peter Munk was able to establish his most recent academic namesake with a core money transfer of $19 million after tax write-offs. The contract was negotiated in secret with U of T’s President, David Naylor. It gives Munk and the inheritors of his estate considerable leverage over the future direction and academic business of Barrick’s academic flag ship. This leveraged buyout of academic influence was purchased in a deal that still leaves taxpayers carrying at least 80% of the expense of the U of T’s main agency for the study of international relations.
The Role of the Munk Institutes in Demonizing
the Reputation of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Adelson made a big splash recently when he called for nuclear attacks on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Relations with Iran have famously become a major point of contention in US-Israeli relations. The Canadian government, the Munk School of Global Affairs, and the Munk Debates have all sided with the Israeli government in eschewing any softening of relations with Iran. In all likelihood there will be no opening for this bias to be forthrightly exposed and considered in the forthcoming federal debate on Canada’s foreign policy.
In 2012 the Harper government broke off formal diplomatic ties with Iran after Canada’s Foreign Affairs Foreign Minister John Baird proclaimed that the Islamic Republic is “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.” Baird added salt to the wound when in 2013 he announced “the [Iranian] regime is hollow. It does not have the depth, the intellect, the humanity or the humility to bring about a better future for its people.”
The Harper government’s mirroring of the Israeli government’s hard line position on Iran was implicit in the bias embedded in the contrived question posed by the organizers of the Munk Debates in November of 2012. The assumption beneath the debate question—“Can the world tolerate an Iran armed with nuclear weapons capability?”— posits that there is a secret malevolent agenda behind Iran’s contentious nuclear energy program.
This assumption runs against much documented evidence including the contentions of the Iranian government. Its leadership has repeatedly declared fatwas against nuclear weapons at home and abroad. Morever, the Munk Debates of 2012 steered away from any reckoning with the larger hypocrisy of highlighting nuclear power issues in Iran without any reference to the need to regulate and ultimately abolish nuclear weapons in the many countries that possess them. Israel is one such country. Although to this day the government of Israel denies having nuclear weapons, Israel is in fact is a nuclear-armed country not subject to any international inspection or regulation whatsoever including the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This Munk Debate of 2012 gave a Canadian platform for the extreme American Islamophobe, Charles Krauthammer, and Israeli Major General Amos Yadlin to advocate armed intervention in Iran. Then in early 2015 the Munk School accepted $9 million of public funds to promote and facilitate the Harper government’s advocacy of regime change within Iran. With the then-Munk School Director, Dr. Janice Stein, at his side, Foreign Affairs Minister Baird announced the transfer of federal funds to support the U of T’s so-called Digital Public Square initiative.
This Internet initiative can be characterized as a more polite and public facet of a very elaborate subterranean campaign of cyberwarfare whose existence has been brought to light by a number of sources including Gareth Porter in Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. The stated purpose of Baird’s federal grant to the Munk School follows Cold War precedents. The ultimate aim is to help dissidents in Iran and elsewhere bring about the kind of structural alterations—regime change— still advocated by government authorities in Canada even after the UN’s deal with the leadership of the Islamic Republic.
This intransigence puts Canada at odds with the US executive branch, all members of the UN Security Council, the UN itself, plus the government of Germany. Most significantly, it puts Canada on the sidelines of all sorts of political and economic transformations underway in and around the Persian heartland of Eurasia. The crude belligerence of the Harper government on Iran shows Canada to be at thuggish realm. Canada is becoming an international backwater sinking into a bitumen swamp. Meanwhile the elements of a New Silk Road between China and Europe are being woven together in our absence.
Only a country dominated by closed and backward minds could allow the abnegation of the positive international possibilities emerging from such a major geopolitical transformation. Given the history of the Munk Debates and the Munk School on relations with Iran, what chance is there that the Munk election debate on Canadian foreign policy will put the prospects of a new relationship with main centre of Persian civilization before Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair, and Justin Trudeau?
Who Is Killing Canadian Democracy?
Rudyard Griffiths is the organizer and moderator of the Munk Federal Election Debate on Foreign Affairs. Griffiths describes himself as a “social engineer.” He is Peter Munk’s designate heading up a network of interlinked agencies that extends incestuousness to new frontiers of corporatized narcissism.
Griffiths is President of the Peter and Melanie Munk Foundation and the Aurea Foundation that hosts the Munk Debates. Besides supporting the Munk School, the Munk Foundation supports the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Fraser Institute. A favourite think tank of the Koch Brothers, the Kansas-based owners of oil rights and infrastructures in and around the Alberta Tar Sands, the Fraser Institute awarded Munk a major prize in 2010.
Griffiths first drew the attention of his patron by latching onto the controversy generated in the late 1990s by Prof. Jack Granatstein’s polemic, Who Killed Canadian History? Granatstein applied in the Canadian context many criticisms similar to those marshalled by Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind. Granatstein called for a return to what he considered the basics in the teaching of Canadian history. He wanted more attention on wars, leaders and politics, less emphasis on First Nations, class and gender. He wanted to see a warm embrace of, rather than a distrustful response to, the enormous US influence on Canadian affairs.
In his tireless self-promotions Griffiths took the hard edges off of Granatstein’s diatribes. With backing from the Donner Foundation he founded the Dominion Institute to combine surveys with history quizzes thereby advancing a glossy view of a simplified past. Griffiths conjured up historical sanction for a range of neoconservative policies including those promoted by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
As Munk’s hand-picked “social engineer,” Griffith has assumed responsibility for various PR initiatives that serve the interests of the Harper government’s favoured corporate conglomerates. The decision to exclude the Leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, from the Munk Debate of Sept. 28 was one of the first calls made by Griffiths. He characterized the sidelining of May, without a doubt one of Canada’s most experienced, adept and outspoken parliamentarians, as “streamlining.”
Founding Members of Barrick’s Barricudas
A large section of the Jan. 1997 issue of Executive Intelligence Review was devoted to exposing the deep state activities of George H. W. Bush, a former US President, Vice-President, and CIA Director. Bush is well known for his war profiteering right up to this day. Through the Carlyle Corporation and other entities Bush’s partnerships include many Saudi elites. The leading members of the bin Laden family are prominently among them.
Many of the articles in the EIR highlight Bush’s elaborate web of connections to the Barrick Gold Corporation during an era when the USA was replacing its gold-backed currency with Saudi-American petrodollars. A survey of some of the titles and subtitles helps to encapsulate the astonishing contents of the investigative reports.
They include: “George Bush’s $10 Billion Giveaway to Barrick Gold;” “Kashoggi, Barrick and the ayatollahs;” “Bush Cashes in His Gold Chips.” The caption beside one of the published photographs reads, “Former President George Bush, accompanied by former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in Elko Nevada on Sept 17, 1996 visiting the Goldstrike property owned by Barrick Gold Corporation.”
One of the articles identifies Bush and Mulroney as leading members of “Barrick’s Barricudas.” In teaming up in the mid-1990s under Barrick’s auspices, the duo maintained a collaboration that continued their prior negotiations as elected leaders instrumental in bringing about the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA. The joint intention of Bush and Mulroney was to widen NAFTA beyond its USA-Canada-Mexico framework to include the rest of Latin America. Their main Barricuda ally in this project was Andronico Luksic, father of Andronico Luksic Jr. who is presently near the centre of an unfolding scandal in Chile highlighting Barrick Gold’s corrupt infiltration of the governing party of Michelle Bachelet.
The EIR article refers to two phone calls made by Mulroney in 1994 to Chilean President Eduardo Frei and to Argentinian President Carlos Menem. Mulroney’s aim was to help Barrick Gold take over from the Canadian-based Lac Minerals its supposed rights to mine one of Latin America’s—indeed the world’s— largest known deposits of gold, silver and copper.
In hindsight Mulroney’s phone call helped set in motion one of the greatest environmental, financial, legal and political debacles in all of mining history, a debacle whose larger implications are only now beginning to come to light internationally. Canada’s central role in this debacle should be the subject of heated debate in this Canadian federal election as should the astonishing improprieties of giving a Barrick-related entity, the Munk Debates, major influence over a televised leaders’ debate devoted to Canadian foreign policy.
As Canada’s previous Foreign Minister, and now as a member of Barrick’s International Advisory Board, John Baird is deeply implicated in many facets of this debacle. The substance and the scope of Barrick’s vile conduct in Chile has been the subject of much media coverage in Chile including a major TV documentary directed by Ricardo Insunza and produced by CNN Chile. The stupendous lies and crimes involved in the Pascua Lama project extend to serial frauds in stock market reporting, insider trading, and the raiding of $billions in share value diminishing the life’s savings of many hard-working people in their pension funds and mutual funds.
Other founding members of Barrick’s Barricudas include Edward N. Nye, one of George Bush Sr’s chief spin doctors and deep state operatives. Nye helped the former CIA Director win the presidency in 1988 in spite of the fact that Bush was one of the most important hands-on operatives in the chain of illegal actions leading to the Iran-Contra scandal. Nye is the founder of the Burson-Marsteller PR company whose clients often require the manufacturing of benign imagery to cover over many deep state operations.
Another founding member of Barrick’s Barricudas was Karl Otto Pohl, a former president of the Bundesbank as well as a top official in the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of International Settlements. While Barrick has advertised itself as a mining company, which it is in part, there is much more to its business model than taking gold from the ground, refining it and selling it.
There is much evidence that a big part of Barrick’s operations has had much to do with fixing gold prices, significantly by flooding markets to force prices lower during the period of the company’s greatest profitability and fastest growth through the acquisition of new mining properties on several continents. This price fixing was, it appears, accompanied by arranging gold transfers between central banks as well as putting huge quantities of gold derivatives and real gold, sometimes from secret sources, on the market. In the process Barrick became a laboratory for inventing, manipulating, rigging and marketing new instruments of paper speculation. Many of these activities included the necessity of intervening to influence lawmakers, regulators and jurists in many countries in both overt and covert fashions.
While there has certainly been a wide array of interests and agendas at play in these transactions, an underlying theme of the engineering of the global gold trade seems to have been to maintain the viability of US currency as the world’s primary medium of international exchange. This imperative arose during a period when the USA was losing its competitive edge in many fields even as many businesses moved productive capacity offshore with a resulting deindustrializing across many areas of manufacturing.
The primary factor to heed in preventing a precipitous plunge in the value of US money, however, involved maintaining a degree of continuity during a period of transformation from gold-backed US currency to Saudi-American petro dollars. Weaving throughout the story are changing interactions between key platforms of power in an era when Cold War animosity with the Soviet Union gave way to the Global War on Terror and altered relations with Russia, itself an important producer of gold.
Barrick’s Canadian Barricudas included Power Corporation’s Paul Demarais Jr., the primary financial force behind Jean Chretien in his run as Liberal Prime Minister of Canada from 1993 to 2003. Also on Barrick’s International Advisory Board was J. Trevor Eyton. The key executive of Brascan, a Canadian company providing public utilities throughout Latin America but especially Brazil, Eyton was widely viewed as a major agent and caretaker of the Bronfman family fortune.
The origins of this renowned family dynasty go back to Samuel Bronfman’s trafficking of liquor out of Saskatchewan to supply the illegal clubs of Al Capone’s Chicago mob during the 1920s, the era of Prohibition in the United Sates. The rise of the Bronfmans to the big leagues of international finance and geopolitical influence extended to Edgar Bronfman’s strong leadership of the World Jewish Congress from 1979 to 2007.
To understand Munk’s acumen in the more rough and tumble quarters of the business world, one has to appreciate the ability of this Jewish Canadian of Hungarian ancestry to move as an intermediary between two major poles of interest and orientation. Munk thrived on the interface between the Saudi connections of Khashoggi and Bush and the Israeli connections of the Bronfman clan and its representatives.
As pillars of the Jewish community especially in Montreal and New York, the Bronfmans have very significant stakes in banking, media, real estate, public utilities, and the first component of their empire, the liquor trade. Some of their involvement in the gold business, including Edgar’s key role in obtaining reparations from Swiss banks that had benefited from the elimination and dispossession of European Jews in WWII, are matters of public record. The Bronfman embodiment of the rags to riches saga in the American Dream forms an important subtext to the rise and falling fortunes of Munk’s financial empire.
From Celebrity to Disgrace:
Adnan Khashoggi in the First Years of Barrick Gold
The story of the original partnership at the roots of Barrick Gold sheds light on the spinning of connections linking the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia. The development of this unlikely alliance between the Jewish state and the Wahhabi Kingdom forms an essential factor over recent decades in the renewal of the informal Anglo-American empire whose main point of geographic contact is Canada. An important key to understanding the deep politics of one stage in the life of the informal Anglo-American empire lies in the career of Munk’s business partner, Adnan Khashoggi.
Khashoggi’s primary CIA handler is reputed to have been Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of US
PresidentTheodore Roosevelt. The descendant of the gregarious Teddy Roosevelt is best known for his central role as the main operative on the ground in Tehran who orchestrated the Anglo-American backed coup in 1953. This external intervention into the domestic politics of Iran resulted in the replacement of Mohammad Mossedegh, a proponent of the nationalization of Iranian oil resources, with the puppet regime of the Shah of Iran.
The deep state aspects of US-Iranian relations would explode into public notoriety again with news of the sensational substance of the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s. Once Khashoggi was discovered to have been a key operative in the Reagan White House’s illegal transfer of arms from Israel to Iran with the involvement of the Toronto-based CIA-connected Jetborne corporation, it became necessary to remove Khashoggi from his front-and-centre role in Barrick enterprises.
Khashoggi’s importance in making Toronto the official headquarters of the Barrick operations was captured on film in 1984. In this clip published on the Internet, Khashoggi is shown meeting with Ontario’s Tory Premier Bill Davis and the rest of his cabinet. The purpose of this photo op was to prepare the mental environment for a public offering of Barrick Gold shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The top leadership of the Ontario government is caught on camera fawning all over the visitor who in that era was often described as the richest man in the world.
The Ontario government’s guest was sufficiently famous for the rock band Queen to write and record a song called “Khashoggi’s Ship.” This luxury yacht, Nabia, was used as a set for the James Bond thriller, “Never Say Never Again.” Robin Leach, host of the American TV blockbuster, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, declared his episode on Khashoggi to be his favourite show in the entire series.
Flash forward to 1989 when Peter Munk came up with $4 million to bail out Khashoggi from a New York jail after the arms merchant had been arrested for getting caught up in the unorthodox gold transactions involving the wife of the former president and kleptocrat-in-chief of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. By this time Khashoggi had already been identified in the Iran-Contra scandal as a key facilitator in the transfer of Israeli arms to the Islamic government of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini. The funds from these prohibited arms sale were then secretly deployed to arm the US-backed agents of regime change in Nicaragua in transactions extending to collaboration between the Contras and CIA in selling illicit drugs in the USA.
George H.W. Bush and the Privatization
of the National Security State
As the investigators at the EIR explain, Munk and Khashoggi were originally introduced and helped along in their partnership by key inheritors of the wealth derived from the opium trade. This trade provided the basis for the formation and growth of many important enterprises including the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, the HSBC. Some of these same circles of intrigue provided the context for the rise of the Bush family of bankers, politicians, and war profiteers.
As CIA Director, as both the number 2 and number 1 man in the US White House, and as Barrick’s most highly-placed operative, George H.W. Bush was instrumental in privatizing many facets of the most secret branches of the national security state. This process of privatization was part of a growing merger which continues yet of organized crime with the so-called intelligence services and counter-intelligence operations of national governments. Any close observers of both Bush presidencies would have difficulty missing signs of this creep of criminalization into deep state activities and agencies.
The transformation in the infrastructure of geopolitical power has included many reforms aimed at financing the CIA and its attending agencies, both public and private, with illicit drug money rather than with public funds obtained through more visible channels requiring Congressional approval. This model of privatized and corporatized “national security” is being replicated by many national governments including that of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Corporate Crime and Executive Immunity
The corporate outgrowth of the Opium Wars of the mid-nineteenth century grew up along with the rise of the British colony of Hong Kong. There are strong echoes of this history in the recent appointment of John Thornton to replace Peter Munk as the new Chair of Barrick Gold. Known for his strong links to the Chinese business community, Thornton is a former top executive of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.
The HSBC has recently been convicted of knowingly and systematically laundering money for major Mexico-based drug cartels. The Bank was ordered to pay a $1.9 billion fine in the United States. This transaction was calculated to shut down further embarrassment to the banking establishment in a way that avoided charges and convictions directed at specific executives with names, addresses, and titles. The effect of indicting financial institutions but not the corporate executives that put their companies outside the law is to extend legal immunity to top banking and brokerage officials.
This immense, often colour-coded hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed especially among those populations most disproportionately criminalized by agencies of law enforcement. While impunity is extended to drug lords who spend their time in places like HSBC board rooms and offices, the oft’ privatized jails are being overstuffed with users and small-time merchants of illicit substances.
A variation of this pattern of criminalizing corporations but not the officials that signed off on illegal acts took place in Canada when a Crown prosecution for accounting fraud against the financial branch of the Conservative Party of Canada ended in a plea bargain in 2011. The illegal acts took place during the federal election of 2006 in what became known as the In and Out case. The charges resulted in a conviction against the Conservative Fund of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Charges were dropped, however, against the four individuals responsible for the accounting fraud including the Conservative Party’s financial chief, Senator Irving Gerstein. Gerstein is currently implicated as well in Canada’s Senate scandal because he is known to have tried to shut down an external audit by Deloitte Inc. of Mike Duffy’s contested expenses.
A case similar to the HSBC’s payment of a huge fine to close down an embarrassing investigation occurred when Khashoggi’s close associate, Saudi intelligence chief Kamal Adham, paid a legal penalty of $105 million in 1992 to the US criminal justice system. Adham’s payment helped give closure to a series of revelations exposing connections between drug dealing, pipeline planning, the trade in nuclear secrets, and CIA-sponsored Islamic jihad in Afghanistan, all through the financial medium of Saudi-backed Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the BCCI. Adham, Khashoggi, and several other Saudi CIA assets were major shareholders in this bank serving myriad deep state transactions.
There were many powerful individuals, including then-President George Bush Sr., who did not want Adham to go on giving testimony in the criminal prosecution of the BCCI and its officers. Bush tried to put the Iran-Contra matter to sleep in 1989 when, after winning the US Presidency, he quietly ended many of the trials of the protagonists, including Adnan Khashoggi, by offering pardons. The trial of Adham and his associates in the closely related BCCI case effectively extended the Iran-Contra scandal. The revelations and cover-ups in the Iran-Contra-BCCI fiasco were influential in helping to create the conditions for Munk’s rapid rise in the business world.
Thornton thus comes to his new job at Barrick under a heavy cloud of suspicion consistent with the HSBC’s recent and older history as a financial facilitator of the kind of transactions in illicit drugs that figure especially in the CIA career of Barrick operative George H.W. Bush. Moreover, Thornton’s background suggests that Barrick Gold is becoming a vehicle of the move by Chinese investors to acquire stronger ownership positions over natural resources especially throughout Latin America.
Barrick at the Centre of a Firestorm
of Criticism and Hostile Litigation
Whatever baggage Thornton is carrying from HSBC and his prior post as Goldman Sachs president, the new Chair of Barrick Gold is entering a firestorm of hostility as he takes over Peter Munk’s old job. Munk is leaving behind a lingering residue of bad publicity epitomized by his nomination by Mother Jones as piggy number one in its rundown of America’s top ten embodiments of corporate pork.
As Munk saw it, the US-backed installation of General Augusto Pinochet’s fascist regime in Chile was a good thing. Moreover the sexual assault by Barrick’s security police on women in Papua New Guinea was understandable in Munk’s opinion because, “gang rape is a cultural habit” in that country.
Increasingly hostility is being directed not only at Barrick and its sister firms in the international operations of Canadian-based extractive industries but at the Canadian government as well. For instance the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights responded to Canada’s instant backing of the primary beneficiaries of the military coup in Honduras in 2009 by condemning the role of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs.
Following the overthrow of President Manuel Zalaya’s government Canada’s foreign affairs ministry is alleged to have gone to work to help the Honduran coup leaders write “new mining laws” even as “targeted violence” was being pointed against “communities, lawyers, journalists, and activists.” The Harper government was the first national government in the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, to extend formal recognition to the post-coup usurpers of Honduran sovereignty.
The UK’s Guardian has paraphrased the Commission’s serious charges that Barrick and other Canadian mining companies active in nine Latin American countries have been, with the backing and support of the Canadian government, “destroying glaciers, contaminating water and rivers, cutting down forests, forcibly displacing people, dividing and impoverishing communities, making false promises about economic benefits, endangering people’s health, and fraudulently acquiring property.” Those who protest such assaults “have been killed or seriously wounded while others have been persecuted, threatened or accused of being terrorists.”
Barrick Gold’s headquarters and its international subsidiaries are facing a barrage of litigation from a variety of sources. One class of litigants are those on the receiving end of Barrick’s mining incursions, Indigenous peoples prominent among them. Another category of litigation comes from various combinations of shareholders alleging the company misled them and stripped value from their investments in a number of improper and illegal ways.
Barrick’s annual shareholders’ meetings have become events of great acrimony and strife because of the growing array of individuals, groups and associations claiming that the company has hurt them. At the low end of the scale are accusations that Barrick’s directors and executives are too highly paid and rewarded with lucrative stock options too generously. At the high end of the scale are accusations that the company has repeatedly and systematically committed fraud by making false reports to security regulators and investors in a variety of countries. This line of investigation should, but often does not, lead to subsets of inquiry involving scrutiny of regulatory agencies and their officials for failing to do due diligence in checking the veracity of Barrick’s reports.
Barrick’s Pascua Lama Project, One of the
Greatest All-Round Debacles in All of Mining History
Ground zero in this litigious mess of claims and counterclaims is the Pascau Lama mine. Having been closed down by order of the Chilean judiciary, the failure of Barrick’s Pascau Lama project may very well lead to the unmaking of the entire Barrick empire. Barrick’s serial displays of incompetence, malfeasance and outright contempt for victims of the company’s recklessness have assumed epic proportions. Peter Koven at Canada’s Financial Post accused Barrick in 2013 of “screwing up the Pascua Lama project about as badly as any mining company has ever screwed up a major project.”
The company claims to have invested $8.5 billion in its Pascua Lama project with almost no return so far. There is virtually nothing in Barrick’s own accounting concerning this project, however, that can be taken at face value. The evidence continues to grow suggesting that the books have been cooked and that shareholders have been robbed and defrauded.
At the root of the fraud is evidence that fictitious titles have been fabricated while the actual tiles to the mineral resources of Pascua Lama have been misrepresented and covered up. As a result, Barrick is being accused of making public offerings of shares and financially leveraging in international money markets proprietary claims to gold and other precious minerals it never really possessed.
Introducing Jorge Cortes Lopehandia,
the Mining David to the Barrick Goliath
After almost two decades of litigious struggle with the Canadian corporate giant and its Chilean subsidiaries, Jorge Cortes Lopehandia is beginning to gain public recognition especially in Chile that he, not Barrick, is the true holder of the metallic titles forming the impetus for the Pascua Lama project. Central to the strength of his position is the court injunction of 2001 against Barrick’s local branch, Compania Minera Nevada (CMN). The injunction results from Lopehandia’s presentation in court of registered titles obtained through his agent, Rudolfo Fancisco Villar.
In 2004 Barrick made one of its very few references to the contested title in its annual report to investors and security regulators. The authors of Barrick’s report acknowledged that three years earlier “Villar obtained an ex parte injunction barring CMN from selling or encumbering the claims while the suit is pending before the Chilean courts.”
In a subsequent proceeding in 2012 in the 2nd Civil Court in the City of Villenar, Jorge Lopehandia put the Chilean subsidiary of Barrick to the test. His opponents failed to pass. They could come up with nothing more than a word of mouth agreement to prove their claims. Jorge has struck up a partnership in Vancouver with Brent Johnson. Johnson is CEO of Mountainstar Gold that is helping, along with other interests, to fund the legal proceedings against Barrick unfolding in Chile and Canada.
Lopehandia and Johnson share much in common. Mountainstar Gold is asserting in US courts that it is the proper inheritor of the titles to the Goldstrike mining property in Nevada. In a transfer whose legal validity is still being contested, the Goldstrike property was transferred to Barrick Gold through the actions of two US presidents, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The wealth derived from the Goldstrike Mine provided Barrick’s initial boost into the big leagues of the international gold trade.
Jorge has moved between Canada and Chile for 35 years. He is a Canadian citizen who raised his three now-adult Canadian children in the Vancouver area. His David-and-Goliath struggle with his corporate opponent also entails facing Barrick’s powerful network of government, police, financial and media backers.
The disproportionate influence of Barrick Gold over the Canadian government is on prominent display by virtue of the fact that the company’s co-founder has effectively been chosen by Prime Minister Harper to host the federal leaders’ debate on Canadian foreign policy. Barrick’s so-called “screwing up” of the Pascua Lama projects is one example among many of Canada’s failure to conduct itself honourably and decently on the world stage as the world’s leading mining superpower.
It is a huge conflict of interest for the Harper government to have chosen a Barrick-related institute as the venue for such a crucial electoral event. How likely is it that the Munk Debates between the three male federal leaders will create a focus on John Baird’s jump from being Canada’s Foreign Minister to becoming one of Barrick’s Barricudas? How likely is it that the $9 million federal check Baird delivered to the Munk School on his way out of the federal government will be highlighted in the way it should be?
The penalties Jorge and his family have incurred as a result of his standing up to Barrick’s wrath are considerable. The Kafkaesque treatment of the Lopehandia family by the Canadian government and its police forces, too intricate to be detailed here, present a chilling case study in how thoroughly Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been eviscerated by the Harper government.
By virtue of his surviving many rounds of combat with Barrick’s legal pit bulls and its deep-pocketed media spin doctors, Jorge is emerging as something of a champion for the wide and growing constituency opposed to the degradation of Canada’s international reputation. Many are dismayed that Canadians are allowing their country to become an accommodating platform of convenience for the worldwide operations of even the most sketchy of “extractive industries.”
Lopehandia Responds in the Mid-1990s to
Lac Minerals’ Sale of Its Chilean Titles to Barrick Gold
Rather than attempting to criminalize and sideline Lopehandia and others of his ilk, the Chilean-Canadian mining engineer should be brought into the unfolding federal debate on Canada’s foreign policy. The Chilean-Canadian mining engineer is in an excellent position to articulate a new vision of how Canada could conduct its oversight of international mining. Canada could gain by heeding his insights on how to incorporate in our national and international mining policies sound environmental practices, respect for human rights, more just treatment of Indigenous peoples together with improved labour relations.
Now 62, Jorge has demonstrated tremendous stamina and resourcefulness under adverse conditions. An avid student of both Canada’s and Chile’s constitution, he is natural-born jurist.
As Jorge tells it, he quickly realized that the mining titles Barrick Gold had acquired from Lac Minerals in 1994 were problematic. Some of his fellow miners brought him the information that Barrick’s local agents in the Pascua region were trying to register claims in Argentina through Chilean agencies. When he checked the records at Chile’s National Service of Geology and Mining he found many problems including early suggestions that Barrick’s agents were, at the minimum, very least careless in their registry practices. Lopehandia remains adamant that Lac Minerals only transferred to Barrick Gold the right to exploit salts and nitrates.
Once he realized the extend of Barrick’s incompetence and willingness to fudge registration requirements, the mining engineer went to work through his agent, Villar, to stake his own metallic claims to the Pascua area. As Jorge explains it, he did so with due regard for the institutional integrity of Chile’s National Service of Geology and Mining, a respected agency whose qualities were significantly bolstered by the work of his Great Grandfather.
In 1997 Lopehandia tried to come to a reasonable agreement on how to proceed in an attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with Barrick’s Chilean agents. The negotiations broke down, however, when Jorge realized that his counterparty was interested only in cheating him. This breakdown led to the injunction he obtained in 2001, a ruling that Barrick’s agents have worked hard to undermine and discredit.
Barrick’s SLAPP Suits in Canada and UK
As the contest unfolded, Barrick pressed charges in Ontario beginning in 2002 against Lopehandia for Internet liable. Barrick’s lawyers alleged that Jorge was disseminating on the worldwide web false information defaming the Canadian mining company and its Chilean subsidiary. Their legal procedures can be interpreted as a manifestation of Barrick’s propensity to press SLAPP suits—strategic lawsuits against public participation.
The aim of SLAPP suits is to exhaust and bankrupt critics of large corporations with deep pockets. This tactic serves the purpose of containing or blocking the spread in the media of embarrassing information no matter how solidly based the relevant evidence. SLAPP suits epitomize the systematic perversion of justice in most courts that usually operate in the interests of those that can afford expensive legal procedures and against the interests of those that can’t.
Among those that have felt the wrath of Barrick’s censorious litigiousness are Greg Palast. Also targeted were the UK publishers of Palast’s investigative work, the Guardian and Observer. Other victims of Barrick’s SLAPP attacks have been Alan Denault and the publishers of his Canadian books on Barrick as well as human rights lawyer Tundu Lussu of the Washington-based World Resources Institute.
The judges involved in the eventual ruling in 2004 in the Ontario Superior Court of Appeals sided with Barrick and against Lopehandia making him, in Jorge’s own words, “a symbol of Internet liable in Canada and around the world.” The Lopehandia case is often cited as a major precedent in the emerging jurisprudence of international Internet law. As seen by the man on the receiving end of Barrick’s SLAPP to his reputation, the conviction was obtained by introducing into court misrepresentation and fabrications of the real nature of the title to the Chilean mineral rights in question.
When Toronto’s prized gold company was riding high in 2004, Barrick must have seemed like it could do no wrong. Based on surface appearances it would have been easy for lawyers to depict Lopehandia as an outsider and a delusional heretic malevolently obsessed with ruining Barrick’s reputation. Now a decade later the tables are turning as the Harper government tries with increasing desperation to raise the flag of its corporate assets to gain re-election.
Jorge sees the same misrepresentations in the liable case against him in the falsified information put on record by his opponents in the formulation in 2004 of the Pascua Lama Protocol. This agreement is essentially a treaty agreement between the governments of Argentina and Chile covering the trans-border region of Barrick’s envisaged mining activities.
The designation “Pascua” identifies the Chilean side of the jurisdiction where the lion’s share of the mineral resources are located. The term, “Lama,” identifies the Argentinian side of the shared jurisdiction. The Canadian Internet liable case together with the international character of the contested Pascua Lama Protocol help illustrate the importance of these inter-related matters to the conduct of Canadian foreign policy.
Sakura Saunders, the Globe and Mail,
and the Munk Fellowship in Global Journalism
Sakura Saunders has played a significant role in many facets of this saga. She is a driving force in the ProtestBarrick and Munk Out of U of T campaigns.
Saunders has also identified the close ties linking Barrick Gold with the Globe and Mail, which bills itself as “Canada’s national newspaper.” The Globe and Mail is hosting the other major leaders debate. It will take place on September 17 at Stampede Park in Calgary. Moderated by the Globe’s Editor-In-Chief, David Walmsley, the heavily stage-managed corporate partner to the Munk Debate on Canadian foreign policy is entitled, Our Economy, Our Future. Like the Munk Debate, the Globe Debate excludes Elizabeth May, the sole female leader of a Canadian political party.
In an article published by the Toronto Media Co-op in 2013, Saunders cited a number of editorials demonstrating the speed with which the Globe’s writers have come up with “fawning editorials” after almost all the “new accusations” about Barrick Gold’s alleged “human rights abuses.” She included in her report observations of the partnership between the Globe and Mail and the Munk School of Global Affairs in developing a new training program for journalists.
Saunders points to the emphasis placed by the promoters of this fellowship for emerging journalists on the buzz phrase “corporate social responsibility.” This term was first injected into the U of T’s curriculum of international studies by the Munk Centre’s former Director, Marketa Evans. There are many references to “corporate social responsibility” in the literature describing the “Munk Fellowship in Global Journalism” initiated in 2012.
Big Fish Eat Small Fish
Prof. Stein has worked closely with Aurea advisor Allan Gotlieb, Canadian Ambassador to the United States from 1981 to 1989. Gotlieb’s close relationship with George H.W. Bush is reflected in his appointment to the Canadian Advisory Panel of the Carlyle Group. Gotlieb has been a member of the Trilateral Commission and a senior legal adviser to Bennett Jones, a Calgary-headquartered law firm that does much work for the international operations of Canada’s extractive industries. Gotlieb also has been on the Board of the Donner Foundation that is closely connected to the Fraser Foundation and has been a financial supporter of Rudyard Griffiths’ Dominion Institute.
Gotlieb was for a time Munk’s “philanthropic chief” according to George Jonas who claims to have come up in 2006 with the name Aurea, a term signifying a “Golden Age.” Partnering with Jonas on the Aurea Advisory Board is Robert Prichard. A lawyer, a Professor of Law and a Law School Dean, Dr. Pritchard was both a media and tobacco company executive. As President of the University of Toronto from 1990 to 2000, Dr. Pritchard is reputed to have raised $1.4 billion for his school, then a record for any Canadian university. It was during this period that Peter Munk gained considerable academic traction inside his alma mater from which he graduated as an electrical engineer in 1952.
A former Provost of Trinity College at the U of T and now an Oxford University Professor, British imperial historian Margaret MacMillan has played a big role in helping to steer Munk’s desire to develop his initiative in international studies at Trinity College towards the goal of creating a full-fledged School of Global Affairs. Professor MacMillan’s strategic assistance has been recognized through the funding by the Peter and Melanie Munk Foundation of the annual Margaret MacMillan Lectures in International Relations.
Another Barrick Barricuda is Mark Cameron who describes himself as Senior Vice-President and Energy Practice Leader with Hill and Knowlton Strategies and a former Director of Policy and Research to Prime Minister Harper. Hill and Knowlton is the notorious international PR firm that hired, “Nayirah,” the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador in the USA to be the star presenter in a press conference. At this staged event in 1990 the young woman identified only as “Nayirah” falsely claimed to have witnessed Saddam Hussein’s soldiers removing babies from incubators and smashing them into the floor to die. The purpose this PR fraud at the highest level of international media manipulation was to sell a new war. It was to arouse public opinion to back a US-led invasion of Iraq that would subsequently unfold as Operation Desert Storm.
Mark Cameron’s current assignment seems to be to help create the necessary mental environment for the imposition of some sort of carbon tax. His work on the Aurea Advisory Board seems closely connected to that of Devon Cross who is another practitioner of so-called greenwashing. She is employed by Golder Associates, a worldwide consulting firm offering PR advice to extractive industries seeking to embrace the “corporate social responsibility” mantra in order to sanitize the dynamic of corporate deregulation.
An uncle of Pierre Trudeau’s daughter with Deborah Coyne, Andrew Coyne is carving out a rather unusual journalistic niche for himself as a leading neocon critic of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Andrew Munk, the son of Peter Munk, is along with Andrew Coyne on the Advisory Board of the host institution of the federal leaders debate on Canadian foreign policy.
Where the Barrick and Onex Corporations Meet the Harper Government
Anthony Munk is reputed to have developed a supportive relationship, financially and otherwise, with Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the federal NDP. Mulcair’s policy has been that he will only participate in debates in which Stephen Harper takes part. Apparently one of Harper’s goals is to avoid any future debate in which Elizabeth May takes part. Thus Mulcair is bonded to Harper’s males-only approach to debating federal policies.
Anthony Munk is a close friend and colleague of Nigel “good to go” Wright, who was, until recently, to be counted among Barrick’s Barricudas, Aurea Foundation chapter. Wright and Munk are both top executives at the Onex Corporation. Onex describes itself as a firm “with investment platforms focused on private equity, real estate and credit strategies.” The figure of $22 billion is cited as the amount under Onex auspices.
Gerald W. Schwartz is President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Onex Corporation. Schwartz is married to Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books. Reisman is a member of the committee that decides on the invitation list to the annual Bilderberg meetings, a high-power event where new inductees are introduced to some of capitalism’s chief plutocrats. On the Onex Board is Aurea Advisory Board member, Dr. Richard Pritchard. As U of T president, Pritchard was instrumental in helping to carve out institutional space for Peter Munk to advance his agenda of expanding corporate influence over academic life.
Schwartz and Reisman are both avid supporters of the Israeli state. Formerly prominent Liberal Party backers, the most formidable power couple in Canada’s business community shifted their support to the Conservative Party of Canada when the Harper’s policies better embodied their own pro-Israel aspirations. As epitomized in the friendship between Anthony Munk and Nigel Wright, the Onex Corporation has become an important interface with the Harper government and its favoured Barrick Corporation.
Nigel Wright is godfather to Anthony’s son, Peter Munk’s grandson. Schwartz essentially gifted the very brainy, effective and accomplished Wright to the PMO to become Prime Minister Harper’s Chief of Staff in 2010. Wright’s specialty at Onex has been mergers and acquisitions in the fields of aerospace, defence, energy and transportation. He was involved in various ways on the Canadian facet of the Harper government’s negotiations with Lockheed Martin and related agencies to purchase F-35 jet fighters.
Wright faced his most serious allegations of conflict of interest, however, not on the F-35 deal but because of revelations he was contacted repeatedly to assist Barrick with its deals. Apparently Barrick’s intervention with Harper’s Chief of Staff involved efforts to modify Canadian government relations with the government of Argentina. Were issues related to Barrick’s Pascua Lama project connected to Barrick’s phone calls to Wright?
As outlined in Michael Posner’s essay in The Walrus entitled “Mr. Right,” Peter Munk has been quite close with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s now-fired Chief of Staff. Munk Sr. asked Wright if he would help frame the ground rules for the Munk Debates. Will Wright’s ground rules apply in the upcoming federal leaders’ debate whose setting, structure and format have been engineered to some degree by Wright’s former boss, Stephen Harper?
It fell to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to intervene in 2012 in order to help address journalists’ questions about whether or not Wright had used his position to advance Barrick Gold’s interests in Canada and Argentina. The National Post paraphrased an interview with Baird on this subject. Baird is reported to have said, “Wright did nothing wrong; he merely listened to Barrick’s concerns, said nothing, passed the matter over to others responsible for the file and was not involved in any decision relating to the company.”
Baird’s defense of Wright and, by implication, Wright’s boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, may have conveyed, for the gullible at least, a certain sense of detached objectivity when the explanation was offered in 2012. Baird’s words expressed back then, however, have taken on entirely new meanings during this election season of 2015. The situation is radically different now that Baird has joined Barrick’s International Advisory Board after handing over $9 million in public funds to the Munk School of Global Affairs. Similarly, the perspective is altered as the federal leaders debate on the subject matter of Baird’s former portfolio is about to take place under the auspices of the Aurea Foundation’s Munk Debates.
How far did John Baird go in using his power as Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs to help Barrick and the interests the company represents in Chile, thoughout Latin America, and across the world? When it to deciding whether to protect Barrick’s executives or its shareholders, what side did he choose? Canadians are owed some clear explanations as we prepare to place our votes. Quite likely Baird is following in the footsteps of his predecessors, George H.W Bush and Brian Mulroney.
For sure President Bush helped Barrick when he was in the Oval Office by beginning the legal changes and institutional rejigging leading to the transfer
of the Goldstrike Mine to the Toronto-based company whose International Advisory Board he would later lead. In all probability Brian Mulroney did his part when he was Canadian Prime Minister to advance Barrick’s agenda by putting downward pressure on the price of gold. It was Mulroney who accelerated the dumping of the Bank of Canada’s gold onto international markets in the late 1980s. One result is that presently the Canadian government’s gold reserves are minimal. Will this little-know fact be explored at the Globe’s federal leaders’ debate on the economy? Why did the Bank of Canada’s gold reserves go from 1023 tons in 1965 to 3 tons in 2010? Does Canada have any gold reserves at all right now?
Was Mulroney’s role in dumping gold while in office connected to his subsequent induction onto Barrick’s International Advisory Board which he current chairs? Does John Baird share Mulroney’s golden touch when it comes to garnering favours for services rendered by the former Minister of the Crown to Barrick and to the Munk institutes while overseeing Canada’s foreign policy? What is Stephen Harper’s position on the apparent disconnect between Canada being a major source of newly refined gold nationally and internationally, even as he “holds the course” on move of the Bank of Canada away from some reliance on gold as reliable store of value, as a hedge against the vast uncertainties of international finance these days?
What Will Be the Scope of the Federal Leaders’
Munk Debate on ISIL?
In an interview with Embassy News Rudyard Griffiths was quite vague about the process for arriving at the questions to be put to the three federal party leaders on September 28 in Toronto’s Roy Thompson Hall. The content of these questions will have an enormous influence on establishing the frames of reference for public consideration of Canada’s future orientation to the rest of the world. What topics will be declared in bounds and what topics or perspectives will be considered out of bounds in the course of this prototypical exercise in determining the limits of acceptable public discourse?
There was one area of discussion that Griffiths declared would definitely be the subject of debate between Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. Griffiths pronounced, “The deployment of troops in the coalition fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria is a guaranteed debate topic.” Probably, however, the mass of evidence concerning the role of Western intelligence agencies in funding, recruiting, arming, and directing elements of the Islamic State will not be subjected to critical assessment.
This perspective on what is or isn’t taking place in the Middle East is by and large considered heresy. With some few exceptions the deep state politics of ISIL are held outside the framework of permissible discussion and debate in corporate dominated media venues and corporate dominated institutes like the Munk Debates and the Munk School of Global Affairs. By now it has become pretty clear where the boundaries of acceptable discourse lie for those seeking to gain or maintain membership in the insiders’ club of bankable public punditry.
A report that briefly surfaced in Canada’s mainstream media in March of 2015 calls attention to the limits of sustainable public debate, to the closing down of open and free consideration of all possible interpretations of international affairs. The case study arises because Canadian news agencies echoed reports in Turkish media that a Syrian agent, employee of asset of Canadian intelligence operations based in Jordan had been arrested and identified. Mohammed Mehmet Rashid had been caught helping three young women from London travel into Turkey and then Syria in order to join ISIL.
Apparently the young man was encouraged to think he could gain rights to immigrate into Canada and become a Canadian citizen by following the orders of his handlers. The apprehended agent of the Canadian deep state was operating in the network of Bruno Saccomani, Canada’s Ambassador to Jordan with special responsibilities for Iraq. Saccomani was elevated to his post in the diplomatic service from his former position as an RCMP bodyguard for Stephen Harper.
NDP MP Megan Leslie did ask a pointed question about the episode in Parliament. Predictably Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney avoided giving any direct response but instead used the occasion to sing the praises of Bill C-51.There the matter has been allowed to rest.
The apparent abandonment of this story by parliamentarians, the mainstream media and the major political parties amounts to aiding and abetting the closing of the Canadian mind. The story of an agent of the Canadian government recruiting for the so-called Islamic State has immense implications calling for comparisons to be made, backgrounds and contexts to be explored. This hunt for context and comparisons, however, seems beyond the ambitions, will and capacities of those who seem oblivious to the fact that they are in the front lines of the assault on our democracy. Will this treason of our intellectuals allow yet another wholesale rigging of a federal election, this time on a far grander scale than the CPC frauds that took place in the votes of 2006, 2008, and 2011?
Where is the insistence on getting to the bottom of a story that suggests the Canadian government is involved in helping the very group that Canadian soldiers are being put in harm’s way to fight? Where is there any evidence to prove that this double-dealing is not taking place? Why should we discount the evidence that we have indicating this double-dealing is indeed taking place, quite likely on a much larger transnational scale scale than whatever is taking happening in and around the Office of Ambassador Saccomani?
There is plenty of proof of various degrees of persuasiveness indicating that ISIL is not at all what it appears. This way of seeing the issues exposes the enormous frauds in Stephen Harper’s disgusting war propaganda film, Canada Stands Strong and Free.
Why should we be surprised if it is happening yet again that the same interests are backing both sides of conflict, that there is money to be made from keeping the machinery of war perpetually churning? Indeed, funding and arming and encourage both sides in armed conflict might be considered the original hedge fund. It doesn’t matter what side wins or loses. The important think is to keep the fighting going, divide and conquer and profit.
The question of whether or not Canada and other Western Powers including the United States is involved on both sides in the war on ISIL should figure importantly in any credible electoral debate on Canadian foreign policy. Certainly this discussion is very well developed in venues like Global Research.ca, Russia Today and Press TV, the international English-language broadcasting service of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Few Canadians realize that the Iranian Armed Forces are also at war with ISIL.
To ignore such commentary originating from outside the intellectual confines of the CBC or CTV or the hopelessly skewed Munk Debates is corrupt and lazy to the max. To allow the blinkers of narrowed perception to be imposed without objection is to submit to the deceptions of mass persuasion as developed by Edward Bernays, the founder and father of the Public Relations industry. This PR business in its many incarnations seems especially well represented among Barrick’s Barricudas and the Munk institutes.
Crisis Actors, PR Companies, Police Informants,
and the Selling of War
Stephen Harper is seeking the re-election of the Conservative Party of Canada by presenting himself as a wartime Prime Minister engaged in combat with what he most frequently describes as “jihadism.” Essentially Harper’s campaign strategy replicates that of President George W. Bush in the US election campaign of 2004. The tradition has been that in a wartime situation the proper action is to STAY THE COURSE, to hold tight to the government that is already in place in order to avoid giving the enemy advantage from the disruption of a change in leadership.
By linking his political future to the war on jihadism, the war on ISIL, Harper and the agencies and interests that support him need to maintain the necessary fable that Islamic extremists are acting alone in complete independence form the military and intelligence apparatus of the so-called West. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As Edward Said has demonstrated, the imagery of Islam has long been instrumentalized to engender support for, and justification of, imperialism. Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington are only the most recent in a long line of Orientalists, propagandists and social scientists that have justified wars of aggression as clashes of civilizations, as civilization’s ascent over savagery.
The artificial nature of Harper’s war on jihadism is suggested by the main themes of Trevor Aaronson’s The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism. This text illuminates the role of police infiltrators in encouraging, setting up, entrapping, and often taking the credit for preventing acts of concocted Islamic jihad. The role of CSIS undercover agent Mubin Shaikh in the case of the Toronto 18 in 2006 puts the scenario illuminated by Aaronson in a Canadian context.
Currently the FBI has about 15,000 individuals on its payroll engaged in manipulating vulnerable Muslims to create the kind of fear that the perpetuation of the War on Terror requires. The profile the author draws of this kind of activity could well have been a factor in the prelude to the killing of two soldiers by two “recent Muslim converts” in the Ottawa-Montreal area in October of 2014.
Michael Harris approach is very different than that of Aaronson. Nevertheless Harris makes some suggestions that point in the same direction as the conclusions reached by the author of The Terror Factory. Harris highlights the transformation of the RCMP from a law enforcement agency to a political enforcement agency answerable to Harper. He starts by going through the role of the RCMP in criminalizing Mike Duffy for taking a bribe but not Nigel Wright and his many accomplices in the PMO and the CPC caucus for providing a bribe.
Harris ends by highlighting the dubious actions of the RCMP in its treatment of Kristel Peters, one of the main eyewitnesses of the Ottawa shooter event on 10/22, October 22, 2014. Some refer to this episode as the Canadian 9/11. Harris writes,
“The RCMP failed to interview the young woman, Kristel Peters…. She was the first person to report the shooting of Corporal Nathan Cirillo to the RCMP — a uniformed officer parked near the East Block. Peters contradicted statements made by the RCMP in their reports. She was surprised that there were no police or security guards at the gates to Parliament Hill that day. Evan Solomon raised that issue on CBC’s Power and Politics but was gone [fired by the CBC] before he could pursue it.”
The police and military response to the Ottawa shooter incident provided evocative imagery for front-page coverage in newspapersthroughout the world. A survey of the photojournalism generated by the elaborate mobilization of anti-terrorist squads in Ottawa on 10/22 raises suspicions. The extravagant content and massive deployment of the images by worldwide media could lead one to suspect the operation was meant, in part at least, to create pre-planned iconography with the objective of arousing international support for the anti-jihad cause. The basic narrative was that the war on ISIL is at once domestic and international.
The selling of this war against ISIL might in the light of future history turn out to involve manufactured elements as outrageously artificial as the images in 1990 of Hill and Knowlton’s tearful crisis actor, “Nayira.” What future did the White House of President George H. W. Bush’ (Honorary Ph.D, University of Toronto, 1997) have in mind for us by paying “Nayira” through its PR agency to pretend she had witnessed Saddam Hussein’s vicious army snatching babies from incubators and smashing them into the floor?
Hill and Knowlton never faced criminal charges for defrauding the public by creating false imagery to promote aggressive war. This pre-9/11 flashback to a bloodless false flag terror event looks almost quaint by comparison to the industrial scale propaganda manufactured by the war machine these days. What PR firm or firms presently have been contracted to sell the public on the war against ISIL? PR assignments to sell war are the most lucrative contracts of all these days.
Removing the Barricades
Rudyard Griffiths guarantees us that the Munk electoral debate on foreign policy will include a segment on ISIL. Many Canadians might prefer a different approach, one that would afford, for instance, the likes of Jorge Lopehandia the opportunity to ask some pertinent questions about the actions of Barrick Gold and the Canadian government in Chile.
Jorge would certainly want to connect these actions to the plunging price of Barrick shares after Barrick insiders like Peter Munk and Brian Mulroney and Bush Sr. dumped their loads of stock long before the full extent of the Pascua Lama debacle became widely known. These and other manoeuvres deepened the plunge in the value of many Canadian and US pension funds.
The unregulated extraction of resources abroad and the raiding of life savings at home give new meaning to the attacks of Barrick’s Barricudas. Among this ravenous school of predators swims John Baird, Brian Mulroney and Harper’s fishy cronies involved with the Munk Debates and the Munk School.
Surely it is time to end the farce of treating old sawfish like Peter Munk or Brian Mulroney or Henry Kissinger or George H. W. Bush as darlings of the academy. Rather they and their emblematic Canadian successor, Stephen Harper, are ringleaders in organized crime.
We need to move beyond old paradigms like the lionization of wealth and the intensifying marginalization of the wretched of the earth. We need to embrace life over death, to get off the grid, to say no to smart meters, GMOs, geoengineering, fracking, Tar Sands, forced fluoridation, more Fukushimas, species depletion, and the ongoing genocides of some our most vulnerable brothers and sisters
We need to get beyond the absurd lies in the constant rebranding of the specious and largely concocted Global War on Terror. We need to consider how Jorge Lopehandia, Barrick Gold’s poster boy of Internet liable, was more like a perceptive early eye-witness of Canada’s decline into an open pit of international mining infamy and larceny.
Rigging Elections by
There are powerful meanings in the exclusion of Elizabeth May from the two corporate debates “streamlined” down to the three male leaders of Canada’s different political parties. The sponsors of these branded electoral spectacles include Google and Facebook.
There is growing outrage at the exclusion of the most authoritative truth-speaking female voice in Parliament from the Globe and Munk-sponsored leaders’ debates. The basis for this well justified indignation is similar to the backlash that developed after Mulroney emerged, seemingly triumphant in 1987 from the all-male, all night bargaining session in the Gatineau Hills north of Ottawa on the shores of Meech Lake.
As the three-year interval allowed for the ratification of the Meech Lake accord gradually passed, public hostility to the deal escalated. This antagonism was fuelled by the realization that the exclusion of women was emblematic of far broader and many-faceted exclusions from the vital process of renewing Canada’s constitution.
Allowing Elizabeth May to join the Maclean’s Debate in early August but not the premier prime time, English-language debating events of this election season seems the height of paternalism. The exclusion of Elizabeth May’s vital perspectives is already raising questions about what other essential perspectives are also being excluded?
We never really dealt with the full scope of the election fraud that clearly took place in 29006 and 2008 and in the process of installing Harper in 2011 with his tainted majority mandate. Now DebateGate, the rigged and exclusionary leaders’ debates of Sept. 2015, present the next prime example of Harper’s serial crimes against democracy.