It is a good and proper thing that we begin 2008 at exactly the point where we left 2007, namely charting the depths of Brian Mulroney’s influence peddling from the time he occupied office. There is much to be learned about how our democracy functions from such a potentially informative exercise, despite the posturing of late from Stephen Harper who would have us believe that Canadians have lost interest in the Schreiber/Mulroney matter. No doubt this is the line of logic he will be using on David Johnston in an attempt to shut down the public inquiry that Stephen Harper made clear that he never wanted in the first place. Quite frankly, at this point David Johnston is a politically moot point, since the situation facing Stephen Harper is a lose lose proposition. Call an inquiry and Harper loses. Don’t call an inquiry and Harper loses. Pick your poison.
As for Brian Mulroney, he casts a very dark shadow over the Stephen Harper government. Less probably for what Brian Mulroney did circa his time in office, and more during the nascent life of the Stephen Harper government. One need only look at Brian Mulroney’s directorships in public companies to get a sense of which policy objectives he was likely advancing with Stephen Harper. No less than No less than five of Brian Mulroney directorships formed the basis for five questions that the Liberal Opposition party asked of the Harper conservative government during Question Period on December 5, 2007. Each of which was asked in the context of a particular policy taken over the past 20 months by Stephen Harper. Those five directorships were: Quebecor Inc., Blackstone Capital, ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) , Trizec and Barrick Gold.
To garner a sense for how potentially fruitful this line of questioning begun by the Liberals could prove to be, one need only have looked to the article that appeared the very next day in the National Post that was authored by Brian Mulroney’s former speech writer, L. Ian MacDonald. Evidently Mr. MacDonald was so intent on his mission to protect Mr. Mulroney’s good name, that we are all to take for granted, that he failed to even fact check his own article, which read as follows:
“What is ADM ? Only the largest company of its kind in the world. Its founder, Dwayne Andreas, is one of the most respected business leaders in America”.
Mr. MacDonald. Along with those whose interests he represents would have us believe that Dwayne Andreas is a very upstanding individual and that ADM is as well. If one were to subscribe to this line of reasoning, they would have to overlook the fact that Dwayne Andreas as the CEO of ADM was assessed with one of the largest antitrust fines in US history, namely a $100 million fine for price fixing in 1996. This was the point in time when Brain Mulroney came onto the board in order to help clean thiungs up. Dwayne Andreas is no stranger to the political classes, as we are informed by Wikipedia that; “as part of the investigations surrounding illegal campaign fundraising linked to the Watergate scandal, Andreas was charged with (but acquitted of) illegally contributing $100,000 to Hubert Humphrey's 1968 presidential campaign. In 1972 Andreas unlawfully contributed $25,000 to President Nixon's re-election campaign via Watergate burglar Bernard Barker. Other recipients of Andreas's "tithing" — as he puts it — have included George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Michael Dukakis, Jesse Jackson, and Jack Kemp.
ADM is one of the largest processors of food in the world in which they refine raw food ingredients into food products for which they earn a profit. To the extent to which their cost of ingredients were to go down, their profit would go up, and in turn their share price and management’s stock option gains. Brian Mulroney holds approximately $3 million in shares of ADM and is paid $xxx annually as a Director of ADM. Meanwhile, ADM is one of the largest processors in the world of wheat and barley into food products. A vast proportion of the wheat and barley that ADM procures is from the Canadian Wheat Board.
Meanwhile, against all possible logic to the contrary, Stephen Harper, immediately upon occupying officr set upon a personal mission to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board. This defies all possible logic, since those who most benefit from a marketing co-operative like the Canadian Wheat Board would be the growers of a commodity product like wheat and barley. This is why the Wheat Board was established in the thirties, in order to bring together the collective strength of all Canadian wheat farmers whi could act in a co-ordinated and organized manner to bring about the highest price and greatest market certainty for their wheat harvests. Absent a Canadian Wheat Board, the only way for individual wheat farmers to differentiate their product to their customers is through price. Such a market dynamic involving a fractured market of sellers, means that the market price will devolve to the lowest common denominator. That’d the worst possible outcome for farmers. And the best possible outcome for Arcger Daniels Midland.And which side of this equation is Stephen Harper firmly and adamantly aligned with? Archer Daniels Midland. It defies all possible logic. But such is the case with most all lobbying activity. Take the example of income trusts,
Stephen Harper exploited income trusts to the maximum extent possible in the last election and successfully aligned himself to this large constituency by promising to never tax income trusts. As between the absence of competency and the absence of integrity, it is hard to know why he reversed his election promise, although one thing is certain. He did so at the first possible plausible moment and he did so in the most draconian and manner possible. You sir had a choice, and the choice he made was the one which was most beneficial to those who lobbied him for change. Lobbying the Prime Minister was something the was completely denied all those Canadian who were adversely affected by this policy, namely all Canadians, since it resulted in the unprecedented loss of $35 billion in Canadian’s retirement savings and the eventual loss of $7.5 billion in annual taxes to Ottawa.
Stephen Harper’s income trust policy, like his Canadian Wheat Board policy is just another example of pigs at the trough. Dare I say corporate pigs? In testimony before the Finance Committee on the matter of income trusts, The CEO of Manulife would have us believe that: “The notion and the implication that somehow the government on this file is responding to initiatives that originated with corporations is not based on reality.”
If that version of reality is to believed, then I guess this exercise in finger pointing that appeared in the article Income-trust crackdown: The inside story on November 2, 2006 is just a fictional account of the actual events:
“High-profile directors and CEOs, meanwhile, had approached Mr. Flaherty personally to express their concerns: Many felt they were being pressed into trusts because of their duty to maximize shareholder value, despite their misgivings about the structure. Paul Desmarais Jr., the well-connected chairman of Power Corp. of Canada, even railed against trusts in a conversation with Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a trip to Mexico, and told him he should act quickly to stop the raft of conversions, according to sources.”
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Posted by Fillibluster at 11:07 AM