Monday, September 28, 2009

Fraser Institute. Who are they anyway?

The Fraser Institute has provided its version of appropriate economic policies since 1974. These views are always based on what Nobel laureate Paul Krugman described as a belief "that markets always work and that only markets work." The founding economic principles were similar to those later blended into Thatcherism and Reaganomics.

The Fraser Institute was initially funded by MacMillan Bloedel. BC's then largest forest products company was frightened by the social democratic government of NDP Premier Dave Barrett and keen to encourage pro-business opposition.

From the beginning, the Institute has been less a researcher than a marketing agency, working to sell ideas that suit client interests. It calls itself a non-profit educational organization with 100% emphasis on research - for which it pays handsomely - but it is predictable in seeking to promote only information that reinforces its unchanging raison d'etre.

Geoff Turner recently presented The Fraser Institute's Message Machine, an article published by The Tyee online magazine. Turner writes that the think tank "consistently punches above its weight" by distributing ready-made media content, something always enjoyed by budget starved news editors struggling with slashed resources.

Enabled with $13 million in assets and revenues above $1.1 million a month, this registered non-profit asks for donations from people who understand the importance of "impartial" research. (It has reported holding more than $10 million in assets NOT used for charitable purposes or administration.) Of course, donors should support less government intervention, private schooling, private medicine, industry deregulation (except to preserve monopolies and oligopolies), free trade, uncontrolled firearms, voluntary compliance with environmental standards, elimination of tobacco restrictions, etc.

I believe that the Fraser Institute's contributions are welcome in the universe of ideas. But people ought to consider these with knowledge that the think tank speaks and writes on behalf of its benefactors. For example, Directors of the Institute include representatives of private healthcare organizations that lust for destruction of public universal medical care. Others represent pharmaceutical companies, which might explain why the think tank does not talk about how enhanced competition and reduced patent periods could bring down extravagant drugs costs. Most strongly represented though is the oil and gas industry. Environmental regulations and taxation are like kryptonite to these operators so we little wonder why they finance free market anti-government opinion makers.

I looked at the Fraser Institute's website to determine those who compose the present Board of Directors. After a little searching, I added short biographies of the individuals from already published sources. I certainly welcome any additions or corrections that readers can submit through comments.

As one commenter at The Tyee wrote:
These guys don't just speak FOR Business, they ARE Business. (Yes again, with a capital B.)


Hassan Khosrowshahi – Vancouver BC, age 69, educated in Iran and England, Inwest Investments Ltd. (Westbild, Westwood Plateau, founder of Future Shop (sold to Best Buy in 2001). Estimated wealth (2008): $770 million.

Vice Chairmen

Edward S. Belzberg - Vancouver, BC, Jayberg Enterprises Ltd., investments

Mark W. Mitchell – President, Reliant Capital Ltd., Vancouver, BC, private lender funding real estate loans to $5 million.

Gwyn Morgan – Victoria, BC, Oilman, Director of EnCanaCorporation, SNC-Lavalin, Alcan, HSBC and others.

Board Members

Salem Ben Nasser Al Ismaily - Sultanate of Oman, Executive President & CEO, Omani Centre for Investment, educated in Britain and USA

Louis-Philippe Amiot – Montreal, a Montreal electronics engineer who later became an orthopedic surgeon, founded Orthosoft Inc.

Gordon E. Arnell – Calgary, Chairman of Brookfield Properties Board since 2000; President and CEO of Brookfield's predecessor, Carena Developments Ltd., for eleven years; senior executive roles at Oxford Development Group Ltd. and Trizec Corporation Ltd.

Charles B. Barlow – Calgary, Barlow Brothers Ltd., Oil & Gas Exploration & Development.

Everett E. Berg – Victoria,

T. Patrick Boyle, founder of The Fraser Institute, formerly Vice President MacMillan Bloedel

Peter Brown, Chairman of Canaccord Capital, is a member of the board of directors of the IIROC- Industry Association and is a past member of the board and of the executive committee of the Investment Dealers Association. He is a past Chairman of the Board of the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Stock Exchange, BC Place Corporation and BC Enterprise Corporation.

Joseph C. Canavan, Chairman and CEO of Assante Wealth Management ($24 billion assets managed), Vice Chairman of the Children’s Aid Foundation, Chairman of North York General Hospital’s Paediatric Giving Campaign and is on the Board of the National Ballet of Canada.

Alex A. Chafuen, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he is president of Atlas Economic Research Foundation. He has served as an Assistant Professor of Political Economy at the University of Buenos Aires, is a founding trustee of the Acton Institute and a board member of several other institutes and foundations. He is the author of Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics as well as many others.

Elizabeth Chaplin, co-founder of Sea to Sky Real Estate Ltd., joined The Whistler Real Estate Co. Ltd. in 1998.

Derwood S. Chase, Jr., president, founder, and chief executive officer of Chase Investment Counsel Corporation, which manages over $4 billion for 206 institutions (including two mutual funds) and high-net-worth clients in thirty-six states. Mr. Chase is a trustee of Reason Foundation.

James W. Davidson, Chairman & CEO, FirstEnergy Capital Corp., an investment dealer focused on Canada's energy sector.

John Dielwart, President & CEO, Arc Energy Trust, one of Canada’s largest conventional oil and gas royalty trusts.

Stuart M. Elman, President and CFO of Medisys Health Group, a healthcare services company.

Greg C. Fleck, computer distribution

Shaun Francis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Medcan Health Management Inc, a provider of healthcare services. Prior to Medcan, he was Senior VP for Dallas based Broadlane, Inc., a business outsourcer for 900 US hospitals. He also worked for Morgan Stanley's investment banking division. Shaun serves on the Board of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and is head bagman of the PC Ontario Fund.

Ned Goodman, Chairman, Dundee Corporation, an asset management company dedicated to private wealth management, real estate and resources with over $30 billion assets under management.

Arthur N. Grunder, Director Harmac, long time executive with MacMillan Bloedel.

John A. Hagg, Chairman of Clark Builders and The TSX Group Inc., Tristone Energy Global Inc. He was co-founder of Canadian Northstar Corporation, one of Canada's top 20 petroleum and natural gas producers. In 1998, Northstar merged with Devon Energy Corporation of Oklahoma City, in a $2.0 billion transaction, and he joined Devon’s Board of Directors. Hagg has been a director of numerous organizations including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the independent Petroleum Associations of Canada, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta. He was on the Honorary Council of the Petroleum Communication Foundation.

Paul Hill, President & CEO of The Hill Companies & Harvard Developments Inc. Involved in ownership and development of real estate, insurance, broadcasting Paul is a Director of such companies and organizations as Boardwalk Equities Inc. (Chairman), Crown Life Insurance Company (Chairman), Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Conference Board of Canada and CD Howe Institute. He is a past director of Canada Trust, North Canadian Oils Ltd.,, US Forest Industries, the Canadian Forces Liaison Committee and the Asia Pacific Foundation, etc.

Stephen A. Hynes

David H. Laidley, Former Chairman of Deloitte & Touche LLP (Canada), Director of Emcor Group Inc., a Fortune 500 company with 28,000 employees. Mr. Laidley is also a director of Biovail Corporation, Canada's largest publicly traded pharmaceutical company.

Robert H. Lee is founder and Chairman of the Prospero Group, an integrated real estate company engaged in real estate sales and leasing, property management, development, investment, and syndication.

Brandt Louie President and CEO of H.Y. Louie Co. Limited, and Chairman and CEO of London Drugs Limited. Estimated wealth (2008): $1.4 billion.

David R. Mackenzie, former Director of Tusk Energy, sold to TIAA-CREF for $164 million USD.

Hubert R. Marleau has been a member of the Mitec Board since 1996 and its Chairman since 2006. He is currently President and Director of Palos Capital. Mr. Marleau has raised funds privately and publicly for hundreds of companies, structured many mergers and acquisitions, and crafted numerous financial deals in Canada. Mr. Marleau has held executive level positions at several large investment banks notably, Nesbitt Thomson Inc., Levesque Beaubien Inc. as well as his own firm, Marleau, Lemire Inc. Throughout his career, Mr. Marleau has served as a Board member for a multitude of publicly traded companies, a governor of the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver Stock Exchanges, and a director of the Investment Dealer Association of Canada.

James L. McGovern, founder and CEO of Arrow Hedge Partners Inc., an investment management company providing service to institutions, pension funds, and high-net-worth individuals. Arrow Hedge calls itself a hedge fund leader in Canada. McGovern worked 13 years at BPI Financial Corporation, which he co-founded and where he became President and CEO. BPI, a publicly traded company, managed or administered over $6 billion dollars.

Mark R. Mullins is the former executive director of the Fraser Institute as well as the Institute’s former director of Ontario policy studies. He has published numerous studies on government finance, tax policy, and value-for-money issues. Prior to joining the Fraser Institute in 2003, Dr. Mullins served as President of MSG Hedge Corporation, a privately owned consulting firm and as Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist at Midland Walwyn Capital Inc., where he was responsible for communicating the firm’s outlook on the North American economy and financial markets. Dr. Mullins also brings extensive applied policy experience, having served as economic and fiscal policy advisor to the Canadian Alliance Party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

Eleanor Nicholls

Roger Phillips, President of LA Sauciere Investments Inc. Former President and CEO of IPSCO Inc., he held a series of positions with Alcan Inc. He serves as an Honorary Director of IPSCO Inc., and C.D. Howe Institute. Former Director of TD Bank. He has been Director of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd. Former Director of CPR Prosperity Voskhod Fund Ltd. Mr. Phillips serves as a Director of Fording Coal Limited and The Decimal Fund Limited. He serves as a Director of The Dejima Fund Limited. He served as a Director of Vale Inco., Fording Inc., an Operating company of Fording Canadian Coal Trust. Phillips is a Senior Member of the Conference Board, Inc. He was awarded by the American Iron and Steel Association for his contributions to the North American steel industry.

Herbert C. Pinder, Jr. is a non-practicing lawyer who formerly managed a family business, which included Pinders Drugs, and is currently the President of the Goal Group, which provides corporate governance and investment management services, with a particular focus on oil and gas private equity and the energy sector. He is currently a director of Viterra, a number of private energy companies and ARC Energy Trust.

R. Jack Pirie is associated with Sabre Energy Ltd., a private company engaged primarily in oil and gas development, production and processing in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

H. S. Riley, of the famous Winnipeg insurance family, former CEO of Tanbridge Corp., once Canada's largest leather manufacturer.

Gavin Semple is the President and General Manager of the Brandt Group of Companies, the largest privately owned company in Saskatchewan. Semple is also the Deputy Chair of the Enterprise Saskatchewan Board of Directors. He has served on several Boards including Doepker Industries, Canada Post Corporation, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Prairie Implement Manufacturers Association, Saskatchewan Research Council, Regina Regional Economic Development Authority (REDA) and others.

Rod Senft is a founder and Managing Director of Tricor Pacific Capital Inc., a private equity firm. He is Chairman of Advance Engineered Products Ltd., Expocrete Concrete Products Ltd., and Golden Boy Foods, and is a board member of Beresford Box Company, Inc., all current Tricor portfolio companies. Prior to founding Tricor, Rod was a Principal at Macluan Capital Corporation. He was previously the Chairman and CEO of Hines Nurseries Inc. and SunGro Horticulture Inc. and a Partner of Davis & Company. Prior to joining Davis & Co. he was Secretary and General Counsel for Cargill (Canada) Inc.

Anthony W. Sessions involved in stocks and investment trading.

William W. Siebens - In 1979, Siebens sold his company to Dome Petroleum Ltd. and became president of Candor Investments Ltd., a private energy investment corporation. He has also chaired the board of Sovereign Oil and Gas, a North Sea oil producer. In 1994, Siebens joined ResoQuest Resources Ltd. as chairman of the board until it was sold two years later to Pinnacle Resources Ltd. He continued in the same leadership position with Pinnacle until it was sold to Renaissance Energy Ltd. in 1998. Siebens served as a director of Petro-Canada and was chairman of Freehold Royalty Trust, one of the largest owners of freehold mineral rights in Canada.

Anna Stylianides began her career as a corporate lawyer in South Africa. She specialized in risk management and gained extensive experience in finance, mergers and acquisitions, structuring and other banking and financial products. Since relocation to Vancouver in 1997, she has been engaged in restructuring Nasdaq traded companies and was the CEO of FinTec Holdings Corp. In 2005, she joined the Surgical Spaces, Inc. Group of Companies as CEO and has been instrumental in overseeing its national expansion strategy as Canada's private healthcare consolidator.

Arni C. Thorsteinson is CEO at Temple Real Estate Investment Trust, CEO at Huntingdon Real Estate Investment Trust, CEO at WPVC Inc., President of Shelter Canadian Properties Limited and CEO at Lanesborough Real Estate Investment Trust. He is the Chairman of Vision Capital Fund Advisory board and has been Chairman and Director of Consolidated Properties Ltd. and a Director of Russel Metals Inc. He has been a Director of Bird Construction Ltd. and Tri-White Corp. He is also a Director of Ben Moss Jewellers Ltd., Onex Corp., and WPVC Inc.

Michael A. Walker, one of the founders of the Fraser Institute and former Executive Director of the Fraser Institute. He holds a PHD in Economics and has written or edited countless books and articles.

Catherine Windels, Director of International Affairs at international drug giant Pfizer, also served as the Secretary Treasurer for the Fraser Institute’s Board of Trustees. She was a financial contributor to Republican and Libertarian candidates in USA 2008 elections.

* * * * *

Doug McArthur, of SFU's Public Policy School, makes clear that he is not a member of the Fraser Institute.
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  1. Reading through the list of the "who's who" above should remind all of us to take every word that comes from their gilded mouths with a grain of salt. Totally worthless to anyone living in the "real" world.

  2. I dare you to conduct the same analysis of the Dave Suzuki Foundation.

  3. Anon 2 indirectly raises the broader issue of the lack of independent policy analyst groups or think tanks. Even those who consider themselves non-partisan are seen by many of the people who read their reports as aligned with a particular party or constituency. (Which means they are mostly read by people who agree with their approach.)
    Some B.C. professors fill that role, at least to some extent.
    But a policy analysis group funded with a broad-based board would be useful, if enough funding could be found.
    Paul Willcocks

  4. Anonymous 2, just for you:

    It's called Google, you might have heard of it.

    Your point...?



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