For your information: Atlantic Institute for Market Studies

By TONY SEED and GARY ZATZMAN

TML Daily, June 15, 2007 – No. 98

Original map of “Atlantica” in 2005

TRADE UNIONISTS and other social activists are rallying in Halifax all this week against the latest annual conference of the financial oligarchs from the New England states, the Canadian Atlantic provinces and Québec promoting the Atlantica project, a new arrangement for deeper integration with the United States (later renamed the Atlantic Gateway – ed.). In the lead up to the conference, daily media reports are quoting various government officials, business association spokespeople, and think-tank “experts” to tell the people how they should view the event. Even different “alternatives” are discussed. To assist the workers and people to establish their own thinking and point of view on the Atlantica project and what to do about it, TML is posting information about the ideological and corporate forces behind the Atlantica project.

Programmatic AIMS

The principal ideological architect of the Atlantica project is the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS). It is often misleadingly credited with both founding the Atlantica concept and yet standing at odds with Ottawa. The chronology is instructive.

In April 2002, the Greater Halifax Partnership Ltd. (see below) hosted the Atlantic Canada Economic Growth Forum as a parallel meeting to the Atlantic Mayor’s Congress. The outcome of the Forum was an agreement by economic development agencies at all levels of the state to create an entity (a secretariat) that could “foster regional growth” – becoming the so-called Atlantica Growth Network (AGN); it came into being in June 2003 during workshops of “economic leaders from all four provinces.” The Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce (APCC) established a cross-border committee with U.S. interests, the Council on Atlantica. The “Atlantica” concept began to extend beyond the Atlantic Canada region to encompass Southeastern Quebec, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Upstate New York. Its gestation was funded in large part by the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency (ACOA).[1]

In February 2005, the Halifax Partnership commissioned a survey of senior representatives from organizations involved in the AGN initiative, financed by ACOA. One of the chief priorities identified was “to build the brand for the Atlantic Region,” that is, propaganda and consolidation of the corporate strata around this banner. In November 2005, APCC convened “Growing The Atlantic Economy: The Transportation Factor” with the specific theme of integration and global competitiveness of the oceanic ports. The first schematic map of Atlantica was produced, including all of Québec – hence constituting another assault on the Quebec people and nation.

In June 2006, APCC and AIMS organized a high-profile conference entitled “Reaching Atlantica” in Saint John, NB to promote deeper integration between eastern Canada, Québec (now split and narrowed to east of the St. Lawrence River) and New England – the area that AIMS now took to calling Atlantica.

Graphic is from mass protests of trade unions and social groups in 2006 when the scheme was first revealed. The moniker “Atlantic Gateway” has essentially replaced “Atlantica” and the map is no longer displayed.

June 11, 2007: Opening demonstration of unions and youth against Atlantica (renamed Atlantic Gateway) conference, Halifax, NS, sponsored by the Irvings

The conference brought together powerful business interests and figures, such as principal speaker Kenneth Irving, son of New Brunswick oil, forestry and media moloch, the late K.C. Irving, and now CEO of Irving Oil Ltd. Irving is one of AIMS’ large corporate sponsors, and Irvings are the largest landowner in New Brunswick and Maine. Students, youth, unionists and other social activists in New Brunswick held a large counter-conference and popular protest. Since then, they have written innumerable articles exposing and attacking the project.

Within the framework of the SPP, the Atlantica project echoes the so-called Independent Task Force on the Future of North America Task Force, set up by the Liberal Party headed by annexationist John Manley, which calls for the building of a North American economic and security community by 2010. That agency is sponsored by the U.S. Council on Foreign Affairs in association with the annexationist Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations. The Task Force proposes a common external tariff for Canada, Mexico and the U.S. along with a “security perimeter.” Atlantica is thus part of a wide series of projects implementing a North American strategic perimeter for Fortress America in the service of North American monopolies and their drive for annexation and war. The measures include the Smart Border Action Plan, new NORAD military arrangements, defence reform, Homeland Security exercises and the SMART Regulation initiative. The consttuction of new inter-modal transportation corridors from New England to an ice-free port such as Halifax have a clear military significance.

AIMS’ disinformation

AIMS was set up in 1994 with two grants from U.S. agencies; a $450,000 start-up grant from the Donner Canadian Foundation and a parallel grant reportedly of $500,000 from the U.S. Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The former agency is  a branch of the U.S. William H. Donner Foundation named after a wealthy American steel magnate and associate of the Mellon interests of Pittsburgh, who enriched himself from the plunder of iron ore from Québec for the Pittsburg steel mills during the 1930s. It is currently the third largest “charitable” foundation in Canada. Atlas is a Fairfax, VA-based conservative think tank, incorporated in 1981. It creates, develops, advises, and supports “independent public policy research institutes” throughout the world and is described as a “think tank breeder.” Atlas calculated that its “family” comprised approximately one-third of the world’s 470 “market oriented” think tanks as of 2003. [2] Following the American pattern of a “marketplace of ideas” where what matters is not democratic legitimacy, but the impact on those who plan and manage public policies, these organizations have proliferated globally, especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The thematic work varies but are always related to state policy and public opinion/media coverage. Their role is to influence society, and in particular those who decide and create opinion: politicians and journalists. They are the intellectual or rear kitchen of neo-liberal politics.

The principal aim of AIMS is to churn out anti-scientific studies, policies, projects and public opinion to ensure that all human and natural resources of Atlantic Canada are put at the disposal of the most powerful international monopolies, especially those centred in the United States. As the composition of its board of directors reveals (see below), this in particular includes those whose sources of capital – regardless of whether the head office is north or south of the 49th parallel – are based in the leading financial centres of the United States or dependent on its bond markets, stock markets, or other financial syndicates (private equity placement firms, merchant banks and investment funds, etc.).

Based in Halifax, AIMS styles itself as spokesman for the present and future commercial interests of a long-oppressed region.

Sometimes referred to as the “Fraser Institute of the East” (the Fraser Institute is also heavily-financed by the Donner and Atlas foundations), the main project of AIMS during the 1990s was the promotion of a reactionary sea change in the fisheries under the theme of “property rights” and the “freedom” of the big sharks from the “socialist” and “bureaucratic” federal state to eat whom they pleased. In this direction, AIMS employed “experts” to develop a kind of knowledge – not a proper theoretical understanding of academia and universities, but a kind of expert product aimed at political decision makers and its applicability in practical terms. AIMS and its idealogues constantly prattled on about the private ownership rights of the fisheries and energy monopolies over the sea and the seabed, means of production and commodities bestowing on monopolies the right to exploit, oppress, trade and act as they please with as few regulations and interference as possible. [3]

This public opinion was also specifically aimed at creating doubt amongst the working class and middle strata of the cities in the Maritimes to divide the polity about the just cause of the small and poor fishermen in the outports, deny the hereditary rights of the First Nations and sow division on a racist basis, isolate the fishermen for attack and silence the working class. AIMS declared them “inefficient” and “greedy” – a main source of the crisis in the fisheries. The corporatizing and privatizing of the fisheries, the brutal and forcible elimination of thousands of inshore fishermen through the Individual Transferable Quota (ITQs) system of the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans, the attempts to incite a race war in the wake of the Marshall Decision of the Supreme Court (1999), and the seismic testing for natural gas in the inshore areas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence ensued. AIMS acknowledged the fisheries tragedy only as the tragedy of a so-called “common-property resource.” This theme clearly exposes that the AIMS’ notion of the present and future commercial interests of a long-oppressed region ruthlessly excludes any consideration whatsoever for either the social and political rights of the First Nations and working people of the Maritimes, Newfoundland and Québec or their livelihoods.

Fisherman Fred Sears, occupying the Bluenose on the Halifax waterfront. Hook and line fishermen courageously fought for a human-centred solution to the fisheries crisis against the corporatization and privatization of the fisheries by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in service of monopoly right.

Despite the fierce and spontaneous resistance of the small fishermen, First Nations, and political and social activists in the city, the end result was the gutting of the resource, the outmigration of tens of thousands of Maritimers and Newfoundlanders, the creation of ghost towns, the impoverishment of the Acadians and First Nations, and the further subordination of the food sovereignty of Canada to a handful of giant food and agricultural multinationals. This is the grim reality behind what AIMS calls “Maritimes First.” At that time, its board of directors was heavily weighted by such U.S.-dependent fisheries, food and energy monopolies as Clearwater Fine Foods Inc., Fisheries Products International and High Liner Foods; Sobeys, McCain Foods, Maple Leaf Foods and Garfield Weston (Loblaws); and Irving, Imperial Oil, Petro-Canada, Enbridge (which owns over 32 per cent of Gaz Métro in Quebec), and Inco (Voisey’s Bay), etc.

These monopolies for whom AIMS speaks would make a desert of the economic life and lifelines of the people and the natural environment and call it social peace and “progress” – ironically the name of the main business magazine in the region that touts AIMS’ positions in semi-popular form. In fact, notwithstanding its postures and claims of science, objectivity and economic realism, AIMS is deeply involved in mobilizing all the most reactionary forces from the private and public sector throughout the region to interact in a wide range of venues.

The disinformation produced by AIMS is serialized virtually every day by the powerful monopoly media as the independent views of a “think tank.” Indeed, it is difficult to determine where one stops and the other starts.

The above-mentioned Progress Magazine, principal publicist of the Atlantica project, is published by Neville Gilfoy and his Progress Communications Corp. Progress owns Atlantic Progress Publishing Ltd. and Eastcan Publications Inc, with a staff of 34. Progress was also initiated in 1994, the same year as AIMS, and within six years boasted annual revenues exceeding $5 million. Together the two companies publish Atlantic Progress magazine, Nova Scotia OPEN TO THE WORLD magazine (entirely funded by the province of Nova Scotia), Atlantic Chamber Journal, The Business Visitor, the Business Growth Directory and the Atlantic Canada Economic Development Annual.

Gilfoy was both co-chair of the Council on Atlantica, chair of the Greater Halifax Partnership and the past-president of the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce. (A Tim Gilfoy is Chief Executive Officer, Strait of Canso Superport Corporation, the proposed site of a new container terminal, and board member, Offshore/Onshore Technologies Assoc. of Nova Scotia.) The other co-chair has been an American, Jonathan Daniels, CEO and President of Eastern Maine Development Corporation which was actively engaged with APCC in the “Atlantica” initiative and a member of its board. Daniels takes over as sole chairman of Atlantica this week. Significantly, Daniels is formerly the managing director of the Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission in Louisiana, and will soon leave Maine to become the executive director of the port of Oswego, near Syracuse, in upstate New York.

Concurrently, Progress Magazine is striving to expand in New England as the regional “business” periodical of the biggest corporations to unify the financial oligarchs of both regions to the narrow ends of the Atlantica project. Thousands of copies of this slick and fat “magazine” are distributed free of charge amongst the corporate and middle strata. With a paid subscription list of just 3,000, it regularly sponsors thematic conferences and “Face to Face” corporate retreats at the White Point Resort, NS to consolidate opinion amongst the upper and professional strata. It charters winter cruises in the Caribbean originating from Halifax, as well as organizes four annual receptions surrounding the “Top 101 Companies of Atlantic Canada” edition of Progress.

The major media also facilitate the dissemination of the disinformation produced by AIMS and falsely portray it as the work of neutral academics. The founding president of AIMS, Brian Lee Crowley, spent two years on the editorial board of the Globe and Mail, during which time he was replaced by Don Cayo of the Irving-owned Saint John Telegraph Journal. Crowley returned to AIMS (and Cayo to the Irving daily) before being seconded by the Harper government as a senior economics adviser in his Finance Department. Crowley had a regular agit-prop column in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia’s major daily newspaper which has been taken over by his interim successor, Charles Cirtwill. According to some experts, appointing this “neutral” man to such a high-level post in Ottawa indicated a step toward an even greater balkanization of Canada and annexation with the United States.

The close links of such centres with the highest levels of the state is illustrated by the most intimate connections. Crowley is also on Board of Research Advisors of a similar think tank, the Frontier Institute for Public Policy, in Manitoba and a member of the discreet, right-wing Civitas Society, founded by Calgary political scientist Tom Flanagan, campaign manager for and advisor to Harper. Harper’s chief of staff, Ian Brodie, is listed as a director. Montreal Economic Institute president Michel Kelly-Gagnon is also a member of Civitas. For his part, Harper calls AIMS, “dollar for dollar the best think tank in the country.” The state rewards corporate donors to such “charitable” centres with tax-deductible receipts, effectively subsidizing their fifth column work with the taxdollars and social product of the Canadian people.

AIMS is at the forefront of the battle to push the aspects of the neo-liberal program to privatize public health care and social spending in Canada. Among its sponsors or “patrons” it lists the American pharmaceutical giants, Pfizer and Merck Frosst. AIMS is a proponent of “charter (private) schools” and the destruction of public education. Towards this end, it issues annual “report cards” for public schools in Atlantic Canada to create public opinion against a much-needed renewal of the public education system.

The “Smart City” – “Love the Way We Live”

On urban questions, under the guise of opposing “smart growth” and advancing “quality of life,” AIMS opposes mass public transit, pollution control, the defence of natural and oceanfront space and sensitive ecosystems.

The AIMS phalanx is today heavily involved and intertwined with the Greater Halifax Partnership Ltd., a consortium of 125 “investors” (down payment of $5,000 or more) which all but determines the criteria for planning and “development” in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

“In very brief,” reports Nova Scotia’s Shunpiking Magazine, “the Greater Halifax Partnership is a ‘public-private partnership’ that participates in the destructive global competition between cities over corporate relocation, resources and labour to exploit. It places public resources (taxdollars and writeoffs, subsidized services, job creation grants, etc.) at the disposal of the incoming monopolies, to whom the HRM Partners sell their services.”[4] The bulk of its annual budget is provided by Nova Scotia and the HRM.

To this end, the Partnership’s own Atlantic Gateway Council was recently formed to develop a 3-5 year strategic plan for the HRM. The Partnership promotes six sectors as ripe for super-exploitation. It identifies the military-aerospace-manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, energy, call centres and “information technology” (the so-called knowledge economy) and transportation and logistics sectors as so-called growth sectors to “power the economy.” To the foreign multinationals, it frankly advertises that “In 2000, wages across all industries in Nova Scotia were 16 per cent more competitive [that is, lower – TML Ed. note] than the Canadian average.” Many of its principals are active in lucrative, oceanfront “development” projects along our scenic coastline and bays that will displace one class of people – the residents, families, the producing, professional and recreational fishermen and the public – with another, smaller and wealthy class of people who will control access. What is being advocated is not “development”, but wrecking, not progress but retrogression, not “community” and “quality of life” but smashing the social fabric, not “jobs” but the destruction of once renewable natural resources such as the fisheries.

According to evidence documented by Shunpiking Magazine, HRM Partners such as the Terrain Group Inc. and Jacques Whitford Environment Ltd. even draft civic planning bylaws and “concept plans” for the HRM and prepare federal and provincial “environmental assessments” of controversial development projects. They also specialize in astroturf, i.e., grooming the public for developers to “consult” in league with the HRM Planning Dept. They frankly state that the “consultative” role of the public is merely to “refine (the developer’s) concepts.”

All the major media in the area – Halifax Herald, Globe and Mail, CTV, Global TV, Progress Magazine, The CCL group, Metro Radio Group – are “investors” in the Partnership and religiously propagate its refrains.

Evoking a mythical golden era of Maritime prosperity

Evoking a mythical golden era of Maritime prosperity which allegedly preceded the 1867 Confederation, AIMS promotes how this is now to be ushered in on the wings of Atlantica, curing all the disasters wrought by the Gods of Plague.

According to Crowley, “The east-west axis for development of North America is being supplemented by a drive to stitch back together the old north-south trade routes that had flourished across the continent before 1867.” Ah yes, the goode olde dayes! At that time, mercantile sections of the Anglo-Canadian colonial bourgeoisie in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick led by Joseph Howe fought for “free trade” with the Boston states against the nation-building project taken up by the dominant Anglo-Canadian bourgeosie as a means of resisting American annexation, “manifest destiny” and the Monroe Doctrine. The bribes were discreetly paid by then prime minister John A. Macdonald from his Secret Service fund (as much as $25,000) to the main political opponents; these “reformers” folded their flags, and surrendered their colonial principalities for capture by the new state. Big capital, the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Royal Bank, etc., moved their centres from Halifax to Upper Canada. Uneven development, an inherent feature of the capitalist system, prevailed. The Maritimes was consigned to serve their interests as a nursery of cheap labour, cannon fodder, natural resources and a playground for tourism. Petty fiefdoms called provinces ensured that the narrow interests of the rich based in selling out the labour and resources of the region were well oiled. The entire drama was replayed during the Great Depression of the 1930s, with new actors speaking in the name of “Maritime Rights.”

Today, this reactionary class has abandoned the nation, embraced the dominant Empire of the day, and is turning history on its head to justify its subjugation. It even demands the dismantling of the three Maritime provinces and their merging in a new regional agency under its dictate. Taken together, the irrational disinformation and pseudo-rational programs of AIMS and its ilk are hardly of a Maritimes’ character or rooted in the bitter past or the future of the peoples of Atlantic Canada. Underneath the chauvinist flag of “Maritimes First” and Atlantica lurks a rotten disregard and cynical contempt for the well-being and future of the polity, the region and the nation.

AIMS Board of Directors

AIMS and its ideologues are a front and shill for the region’s biggest corporations and the political parties working in their service. Its pet projects and board of directors change according to the interests and ideological agenda of the dominant monopolies, finance capital and the big academic institutions who also work in their service. Many of these monopolies are also members of the powerful Canadian Council of Chief Executives, which has been aggressively promoting the Security and Prosperity Partnership aimed at integrating Canada with the United States. The saying, “He who pays the pier, calls the tune,” comes to mind.

The AIMS board presently includes the following:

* Chairman David McD. Mann, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power Inc., president and CEO of Emera Inc., and a board member of Bangor Hydro-Electric Company, Emera Fuels, and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

* Purdy Crawford, former non-executive chairman of Imasco Limited (owners of Imperial Tobaaco), C.T. Financial Services Inc., and Canada Trusco Mortgage Company and currently counsel and senior partner at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt and Chairman of AT&T Canada.

* John Crosbie, former Conservative cabinet minister for Brian Mulroney and the man responsible for negotiating the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and bringing the axe down on the Atlantic fishery in 1992 with the cod moratorium, currently Patterson Palmer Hunt Murphy law firm of St. John’s, NF.

* Peter Godsoe, former president, CEO and chairman of Scotiabank.

* John F. Irving, an executive with the billionaire Irving family of corporate interests based in Saint John, N.B.

* Martin MacKinnon, vice-president of finance and administration for Eastern Rehabilitation Inc. and a director of Atlantic companies, as well as a past member of the board of Atlantic Broadcasters Ltd. and the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation.

* George Bishop, chairman and CEO of Minas Basin Pulp and Power Ltd.

* Jim Dinning, a former senior minister in the Ralph Klein Conservative government in Alberta, chairman of Western Financial Group Inc. and a director of Finning International Inc., Russel Metals Inc., Great Canadian Railtour Company Ltd., Shaw Communications Inc. and Western Financial Group Inc.

* Colin Dodds, president Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, and a member of the board of governors of the Canadian Institute of Bankers.

* Frederick Hyndman, managing director, Hyndman and Co. in Charlottetown, chairman of the board of Maritime Electric Co. Ltd., and a director of Northumberland Ferries Ltd., and Padinox Inc.

* Bernard Imbeault, founder, owner and CEO of Pizza Delight Corporation Ltd. who now ‘presides over the boards’ of Mikes Restaurants, Scores Restaurants, Monumental Granite Inc. and Nelson Monuments and Granite Works Ltd.

* Diane Kelderman, president of Atlantic Economics, a firm that specializes in economic analysis and development; past president of the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce and a director on the Board of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

* Phillip Knoll, president, Knoll Energy Inc. and a member of the board of directors for Rally Energy Corporation, Heritage Gas Nova Scotia and Alta Gas Utility Group.

* Peter Marshall, chairman Seamark Asset Management Ltd.

* John McLennan, vice-chairman and CEO of Allstream Canada and a member of the board of directors of Amdocs Limited, Hummingbird Communications, Medisys Health Group and Platform Computing.

* Norm Miller, a founder of Corridor Resources Inc., a “junior” oil and gas exploration company, registered in Alberta in March, 1995 and headquartered in Halifax. As of 2004, it had onshore interests on over 6 million net acres in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec, and offshore interests in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, especially the Laurentian Channel region, where it holds Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador licenses, including the Îles de la Madeleines and Anticosti Island. There it is exploring in partnership with Hydro-Québec, which is planning to invest $330 million for oil and gas exploration in the St. Lawrence by 2010. Together with Hunt Oil of Dallas, Texas, it is the principal seismic oil explorer in the Gulf of St Lawrence, off the eastern coast of Cape Breton Island in the shallow waters of the area known as Sydney Bight, PEI). The board of directors of Corridor includes representatives of such U.S. oil trusts as Richland, and its website indicates links to Shell Oil.

* Don Mills, president and CEO of Corporate Research Associates Inc. and a member of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council and the American Marketing Association.

* Derrick Rowe, CEO of Fishery Products International Limited and a current member of the advisory council to Tory Premier Danny Williams in Newfoundland.

* Paul Sobey, president and CEO, Empire Company Ltd, chairman of Wajax Ltd. and a director of the Bank of Nova Scotia, Sobeys Inc, and Emera Inc. Sobeys is closely linked with High Liner Foods Inc. (now the dominant fisheries monopoly) and the U.S. meat monopolies (Cargill, Tyson Foods, etc.) based in Alberta.

* Vaughn Sturgeon, president and CEO of the Warren Group and chairman of Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association as well as a board member of the Canadian Trucking Association.

* Jacquelyn Thayer Scott, a professor at Cape Breton University and member of the science and technology advisory council to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

* Fae Shaw, a corporate lawyer and past chair of the securities law section of the Canadian Bar Association, Nova Scotia branch.

Endnotes

1. “Atlantica Growth Network: Transforming Vision into Reality, Report of Findings: Interviews with Atlantica Growth Network,” ACOA Resource Paper, http://www.acoa.ca/e/library/roundtable/transform.shtml

2. The William H. Donner Foundation, based in New York, has funded the Reaganite Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, the Center for Individual Rights, and Center for the Study of Popular Culture. It helps to fund the so-called “Wise Use Movement,” a brainchild of the timber industry, in the mid-west and western United States featuring the creation of pseudo citizen front groups, also called astroturf. Its agenda, adopted in 1988, was a wish list for industry, calling for “all public lands including wilderness and public parks” to be opened for mining and timber extraction by private capital.

Atlas (now known as the Atlas Network and named in honour of Atlas Shrugged, the ultra-Libertarian novel by Ayn Rand) was founded by Antony Fisher (1915 – 1988) of the Astor family as a mechanism to influence the “climate of ideas” and combat “creeping socialism.” He was heavily influenced by the fascist philosopher Friedrich von Hayek of the Mont Pelerin Society, which he organized in 1947, and Milton Friedman of the so-called ”Chicago School”; both were architects of the economy of Pinochet’s Chile, advocating a form of dictatorship as part of the economic plan. In Britain, Fisher set up the Institute of Economic Affairs which became the policy-formation economics advisor behind Margaret Thatcher as she was coming to power. Atlas credits Fisher with assisting in the early stages of development of several conservative think tanks, including the Manhattan Institute, Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco and Fraser Institute in Vancouver, Canada.

Atlas’ financial support has come from a handful of extremely wealthy conservative foundations and corporations, including the Sarah Scaife Foundation (Mellon family), Earhart Foundation, Carthage Foundation, Koch Family Foundations and John Templeton Foundation. ExxonMobil has contributed over $500,000 since 1998, according to the Greenpeace Web site ExxonSecrets.org. In 1995, Philip Morris contributed $475,000 to Atlas according to an internal budget document released as part of the legal settlement with several U.S. states’ attorneys general. In 1997, despite a tight budget, PM staff recommended Atlas receive $150,000 because of the organization’s ability, through its events and public advocacy work, to “positively impact the regulatory environment, particularly in Latin America.” Atlas’ think tanks, PM staff wrote approvingly, create “an improved operating environment for all PM businesses.” (“Atlas Economic Research Foundation: The think tank breeders,” Bob Burton, PR Watch, Third Quarter 2004, p.14)

One of AIMS’ cousins in the Atlas imperialist network is heavily involved in the destabilization and subversion of Venezuela. In 1984, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation helped set up a think tank in Venezuela called the Center for the Dissemination of Economic Information (or Centro de Divulgación del Conocimiento Económico, CEDICE). But contrary to Atlas’ emphasis on independence, CEDICE has received U.S. funds from the National Endowment for Democracy to support the failed attempts to remove Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez from office. CEDICE played a significant role in organizing and publicizing the positions of the opposition movement. CEDICE collaborated with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) – a Washington-based organization that administers money from the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to internationally promote “democratic market economies through local business associations, think tanks, and other private sector groups.” The CIPE-CEDICE project, “Building Consensus on a National Agenda” was granted $284,270 from the NED.

Relying on official documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests concerning the U.S. support of the anti-Chávez movement, the Web site VenezuelaFOIA.info writes, “Both CEDICE and CIPE [were] engaging in business-oriented efforts in Venezuela, working directly with Fedecámaras, the anti-Chávez business association that co-led the April 2002 coup and the Winter 2003 lockout (Fedecámaras President Pedro Carmona took over the presidency during the April 2002 coup and proceeded to dissolve all of Venezuela’s democratic institutions before being forced from his self-imposed government). . . . More than $80,000 was allocated to CEDICE-CIPE’s combined efforts by the NED right before the 2002 coup.”

Rocío Guijarro, Director of CEDICE, signed the actual coup decree (Carmona Decree) that abolished Venezuela’s democratic institutions. Her signature, along with Pedro Carmona’s and eight others, appears on the last page of the document.

3. See “AIMS: a fish story,” Fiona Trainor and Tony Seed, Shunpiking Magazine, Spring, 2006, April-June, 1999, Volume 4, Number 3, Issue No. 26

4. “Five Minutes; Who Decides?: A battle for a bay, and public right,” Tony Seed, Shunpiking Magazine, Spring, 2006

(Sources: TML Daily, Shunpiking Magazine, National Union of Public and Government Employees)

This article has been slightly revised by Tony Seed, August 25, 2019

2 Comments

Filed under Media, Journalism & Disinformation, No Harbour for War (Halifax), Working Class

2 responses to “For your information: Atlantic Institute for Market Studies

  1. Pingback: Public service cuts and unfair tax regimes will not solve New Brunswick’s economic challenges – NB Media Co-op

  2. Pingback: Hiroshima and Halifax | Tony Seed's Weblog

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