Diplomatic appointments linked to anti-social offensive and privatization of public assets

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion made a number of diplomatic appointments on January 16, two of which are noteworthy because the appointees do not come out of the foreign service but are linked directly with the Liberal Party and to the program of privatizing public assets as well as upholding monopoly right.

Marc-André Blanchard was appointed Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations. Blanchard is a lawyer and former CEO of the Canadian law firm McCarthy Tétrault. His areas of expertise listed by the firm are: Corporate Commercial Litigation, International Trade & Investment Law, Litigation and Securities Litigation.

His official biography notes that Blanchard advised Rio Tinto plc on the acquisition of Alcan Inc. Rio Tinto Alcan subsequently locked out workers at its facility in Alma Quebec. Blanchard represented CGI Information Systems, which was contracted by eHealth Ontario to design and build an online registry of diabetes patients, in an arbitration proceeding concerning the cancellation of its contract. This refers to a $102 million lawsuit by CGI against the Ontario government’s eHealth agency after eHealth cancelled the contract for the diabetes registry which CGI claimed it had done significant work on. The case went to a confidential arbitration process. Blanchard was also part of the litigation teams involved in the fight over the control of both Air Canada and Le Groupe Vidéotron Ltée.

He is a graduate in international relations from the London School of Economics and was a member of Justin Trudeau’s transition team.

The other appointment which indicates the direction in which the Trudeau government is taking Canada is that of David MacNaughton as Ambassador to the United States. MacNaughton was formerly Chairman and CEO of StrategyCorp[1], a large public affairs, communications and management consulting firm and also at one point head of the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. Considered part of the Liberal “old guard,” he goes back to the time of the David Peterson government in Ontario and in 1995 ran as a Liberal candidate in the Ontario provincial election.

From October 2003 until joining StrategyCorp in 2005, MacNaughton served as Principal Secretary to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty where he “focused on bringing private sector principles of sound business management to the Ontario government.” His responsibilities as Principal Secretary included a particular emphasis on energy, budget and asset management. In this role he would have worked with one of the members of Trudeau’s inner circle in the Prime Minister’s Office, Gerald Butts, who was director of policy and research in McGuinty’s office.

Biographical notes provided by Global Affairs Canada say that between 1996 until 2003 MacNaughton was “president of a company specializing in private-public partnerships and a senior advisor to one of Canada’s leading investment banks.” MacNaughton has served on the Board of Directors of the Iogen Corporation of Ottawa and was Chairman of the Board of Comcare Ltd, a private health care provider and Chairman of Aereus Technologies.

MacNaughton published articles in the Globe and Mail and National Post in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In the first he argued that “Ontario needs fundamental change, not a fight over austerity vs. stimulus” where he advanced a broad program of privatization of public assets and social programs. In 2014 the National Post article entitled “Build infrastructure through sales, not debt” MacNaughton outlined the program now in full effect under the Ontario Liberals to build infrastructure using the short term cash flow from privatization.

Note

1. StrategyCorp is a public relations and consulting firm whose main emphasis has been on the program of the Liberal government in Ontario and now federally. They have followed the question of privatization of public assets outlined in the Clarke Report which called for the privatization of public assets such as Hydro One. The fact that the Trudeau government has hired MacNaughton, the Chairman of the firm as Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. indicates that Strategy Corp and its program have become part of the Trudeau government.

Source: Renewal Update, January 25, 2016

 

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