Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Brian Mulroney and other such proverbial pigs at the trough.


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.”

6 comments:

Dr Mike said...

What has happened to integrity in government--it was always somewhat suspect , but it has been taken to a new low.

How obvious can these dealings become--large corporations of Canada & the rest of the world have managed to grab control of politicians not only in Canada but in other so-called democratic countries.

Self-serving CEOs have either somehow brainwashed the politicians into doing their bidding or these actions by politicians were taken knowing full-well the consequences.

In either scenario , who is the loser--none other than You & I.

The trick to make this all work for the politicians is to feed the citizens such pap-filled rhetoric of such a nature that it looks good & seems to be totally believable at the same time.

The Conservatives have been masters at this--who could argue with the Tax "Fairness" Plan--you would have to be an idiot not to want "fairness"--just ask anyone on the street--they heard the words "fairness" & "make the corporations pay" & nothing else mattered.

What they didn`t tell us was that this was only "fairness" for the "few".

Since the public was convinced & the media did nothing & most politicians did not understand anything about trusts , we pulled the short straw.

People like Flaherty & Harper & the whole Conservative party should be ashamed of what they have done.

They don`t even have the "guts" to apologize to all those harmed in the making of this debacle.

They have lost my vote without any prospects of getting it back until this whole crew is gone & the tenants of the PC party are restored.

The Liberals have become my party & hopefully the party of the trust folks everywhere.

This must be the year that the Cons are removed from power before the damage done is irreparable.

Dr Mike.

Mary the golfer. said...

Why is it always the ordinary citizen who gets shafted--the family farmer or the trust investor.

The corporate big shots & the government fat cats will continue to prosper on the backs of it`s people.

This is a disgrace with no end in sight.

Mary

Robert Gibbs said...

Dr Mike makes a good point.

Dress up an Edsel (Income Trust Tax) with the name Cadillac (Tax Fairness Plan) or emphasize a competing deficient product feature (income trusts don't pay tax) without revealing the compensating beneficial product feature (the owners pay the tax) and many uninformed or partisan people will buy into it.

There's a name for this:

Deceptive Or Fraudulent Marketing

Oldschool said...

Wasn't it Chretien who said there should be no inquiry?
Mulroney took some money from Schreiber . . . that was almost 20 years ago!! Maybe the cretch was thinking he would be next!!

The Wheat Board . . . operated like a Stalinist 5 year plan . . . should have been abolished decades ago. Farmers were robbed by these clowns for decades. Bread went from 10 cents a loaf to $4.00 and farmers were still getting $5 a bushell.
Income Trusts . . . always thought they sounded too good to be true . . . I was right!!!

Here's a little wisdome from RR:

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I’m here to help."

"The taxpayer: That’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t take the civil service exam."

"Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other."

"If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." "I’ve laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what time it is, wake me, even if it’s in the middle of a Cabinet meeting."

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first. Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."

"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book."

Anonymous said...

oldschool .. wtf?

Dr Mike said...

Hey Oldschool--I am not sure where you are coming from with your comments--I like some of your sayings but some of your comments on the issues seems to have missed the mark.

As far as an inquiry on Mulroney , who the crap cares what Chretien said about an inquiry at that time--with our "new" accountable government in place , I am sure that they will insist on an inquiry to clear the PMO of any wrong doing in this case--I personally do not care about Mulroney`s shady business dealings--I do care about any link Harper had in a possible cover-up.

Having come from a farm background , I can tell you that to deal with buyers on a one-on-one basis will get you screwed every time--we dealt with the tobacco companies for years without any marketing board & always come out the worse for wear--unless you are a farmer or have a better alternative , leave this subject to those who know what they are talking about.

Your lame statement on income trusts makes no sense at all--are you saying that because they seemed too good to be true that they should have been eliminated--what the devil does that mean--I may think that the Chevy Corvette is to good to be true--does that mean you eliminate a quality product for that very reason.

Go back to Tory land.

I voted Conservative for 36 years & have no patience anymore for such lame statements.

Dr Mike.