February 11, 2007


Stand up for free speech...

From: Matt Bufton

As some of you may or may not know an Egyptian blogger who goes by the name of Kareem Amer is currently in custody in Egypt, awaiting a decision on whether he will serve up to 11 years in prison for criticism the government on his blog.

The decision will be handed down on February 22nd and while many bloggers and some politicians have asked Egypt to take a stand for free speech I think it's time that Canada spoke up on this important issue.

I've created this online petition with the goal of getting 1,000 signatures by midnight on Sunday in the hope that it will encourage the Canadian government to ask Egypt to make the right call on this one.

So sign the petition and tell a friend!


Ronald Reagan and Conservatism...



In this winter of their discontents, nostalgia for Ronald Reagan has become for many conservatives a substitute for thinking. This mental paralysis - gratitude decaying into idolatry - is sterile: Neither the man nor his moment will recur. Conservatives should face the fact that Reaganism cannot define conservatism.

That is one lesson of John Patrick Diggins' new book, "Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History." Diggins, a historian at CUNY, treats Reagan respectfully as an important subject in American intellectual history.

The 1980s, he says, joined politics to political theory. But he notes that Reagan's theory was radically unlike that of Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, and very like that of Burke's nemesis, Thomas Paine. Burke believed that the past is prescriptive because tradition is a repository of moral wisdom. Reagan frequently quoted Paine's preposterous cry that "we have it in our power to begin the world over again."

Diggins' thesis is that the 1980s were America's "Emersonian moment" because Reagan, a "political romantic" from the Midwest and West, echoed New England's Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Emerson was right," Reagan said several times of the man who wrote, "No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature." Hence Reagan's unique, and perhaps oxymoronic, doctrine - conservatism without anxieties. Reagan's preternatural serenity derived from his conception of the supernatural.

Diggins says Reagan imbibed his mother's form of Christianity, a strand of 19th-century Unitarianism from which Reagan took a foundational belief that he expressed in a 1951 letter: "God couldn't create evil so the desires he planted in us are good." This logic - God is good, therefore so are God-given desires - leads to the Emersonian faith that we please God by pleasing ourselves. Therefore there is no need for the people to discipline their desires. So, no leader needs to suggest that the public has shortcomings and should engage in critical self-examination.

Diggins thinks that Reagan's religion "enables us to forget religion" because it banishes the idea of "a God of judgment and punishment." Reagan's popularity was largely the result of "his blaming government for problems that are inherent in democracy itself."

To Reagan, the idea of problems inherent in democracy was unintelligible because it implied that there were inherent problems with the demos - the people. There was nothing - nothing - in Reagan's thinking akin to Lincoln's melancholy fatalism, his belief (see his Second Inaugural) that the failings of the people on both sides of the Civil War were the reasons why "the war came."

As Diggins says, Reagan's "theory of government has little reference to the principles of the American founding." To the founders, and especially to the wisest of them, James Madison, government's principal function is to resist, modulate and even frustrate the public's unruly passions, which arise from desires.

"The true conservatives, the founders," Diggins rightly says, constructed a government full of blocking mechanisms - separations of powers, a bicameral legislature and other checks and balances - in order "to check the demands of the people." Madison's Constitution responds to the problem of human nature. "Reagan," says Diggins, "let human nature off the hook."

"An unmentionable irony," writes Diggins, is that big-government conservatism is an inevitable result of Reaganism. "Under Reagan, Americans could live off government and hate it at the same time. Americans blamed government for their dependence upon it."

Unless people have a bad conscience about demanding big government, they will get ever larger government. But how can people have a bad conscience after being told (in Reagan's First Inaugural) that they are all heroes? After being assured that all their desires, which inevitably include desires for government-supplied entitlements, are good?

Similarly, Reagan said that the people never start wars, only governments do. But the Balkans reached a bloody boil because of the absence of effective government. Which describes Iraq.

Because of Reagan's role in the Soviet Union's dissolution, Diggins ranks him among the "three great liberators in American history" (along with Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt) - and among America's three or four greatest presidents. But, says Diggins, an Emersonian president who tells us our desires are necessarily good leaves much to be desired.

If the defining doctrine of the GOP is limited government, the party must move up from nostalgia and leaven its reverence for Reagan with respect for Madison. As Diggins says, Reaganism tells people comforting and flattering things that they want to hear; the Madisonian persuasion tells them sobering truths that they need to know.

Send E-mail to: georgewill@washpost.com

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Copyright 2007 - The New York Post


More bad news for the Liberals...

Nik on the Numbers...

As you might remember, in the last federal election, the nightly CPAC-SES tracking included leadership measures (trust, competence and vision). One year later, SES and CPAC have completed a follow up leadership evaluation.

The CPAC-SES Leader Report Card indicates that after one year in power, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has noticeably improved all measures related to leadership. Compared to the eve of the federal election, he has significantly improved his leadership image score on trust (+14 points), competence (+17) and his vision for Canada (+14).

You can share your views, rate the opinions of others, and ask me questions about this poll or any other issue. Check it out today at www.nikonthenumbers.com.


Polling between February 2nd and 8th, 2007 (Random Telephone Survey of Canadians, 18 years of age and older). The statistics of the latest wave are based on a total sample of 1,002 respondents and is accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20. The results are compared to the CPAC-SES election tracking completed the day before the federal election (January 22, 2006).

Canada (2007 - MoE ± 3.1% / 2006 - MoE ± 5.0%)...

The change from the night before the election is in parenthesis.

Most Trustworthy Leader
Harper – 35% (+14)
Dion – 20% (Martin - 18%)
Duceppe – 8% (-3)
Layton – 18% (-7)
May – 8% (Harris - 3%)

Most Competent Leader
Harper – 41% (+17)
Dion – 22% (Martin - 28%)
Duceppe – 8% (No change)
Layton – 13% (-4)
May – 4% (Harris - 2%)

Best Vision for Canada
Harper – 39% (+14)
Dion – 21% (Martin - 25%)
Duceppe – 5% (-1)
Layton – 16% (-2)
May – 7% (Harris - 3%)

The tables with the tabs for all leaders and the methodology are posted on our website at: http://www.sesresearch.com.

Feel free to forward this e-mail. Any use of the poll should identify the source as the "SES Research National Survey."

Nikita James Nanos, CMRP

email: nnanos@sesresearch.com


L'Illusion Tranquille...


How's your French? This is a French-language documentary, ciruclating through Quebec on how the unions and socialism in general are ruining Quebec for future generations.

Pass it on to our Francophone and Quebecois bretheren!!!


National Post series on Climate Change Misinformation...

Statistics Needed - The Deniers part 1: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=22003a0d-37cc-4399-8bcc-39cd20bed2f6&k=0

Warming is real, and has benefits - part 2: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=1d78fc67-3784-4542-a07c-e7eeec46d1fc&k=0

The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science - part 3: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=ae9b984d-4a1c-45c0-af24-031a1380121a&k=0

Polar scientists on thin ice - part 4: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=b228f4b0-a869-4f85-ba08-902b95c45dcf&k=0

The original denier: into the cold - part 5: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=63ab844f-8c55-4059-9ad8-89de085af353&k=0

The Sun moves climate change - part 6: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=fee9a01f-3627-4b01-9222-bf60aa332f1f&k=0

Will the Sun cool us? - part 7: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=17fad0e2-6f6b-41f3-bdd8-8e9eeb015777&k=0

The limits of predictability - part 8: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=9bc9a7c6-2729-4d07-9629-807f1dee479f&k=0

Look to Mars for the truth on global warming - part 9: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=edae9952-3c3e-47ba-913f-7359a5c7f723&k=0

Limited role for CO2 - part 10: http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=069cb5b2-7d81-4a8e-825d-56e0f112aeb5&k=0


A legitimate news source explains in plain language why Kyoto is bunk...

From: The Globe and Mail

... and Canada's plan
February 3, 2007
Globe Editorial

Global warming is a reality. Canada must join the global effort to curb greenhouse gases. But it has to be smart in the way it does so, and Stéphane Dion is advocating an exercise in futility.

The federal Liberal Leader wants the government to reaffirm Canada's unrealistic commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. There is no way, short of an economic disaster, that the nation can meet its treaty obligation to slash greenhouse-gas emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels in the period from 2008 to 2012. Despite their good intentions, Canadians would not accept the ensuing reality of drastically lower living standards and diminished government services such as health care. Worse, because Canadian officials apparently did not understand exactly what they were signing when they committed themselves to Kyoto in 1998, it is not even clear that it is in Canada's best interests to remain a party to the treaty.

So why are all three opposition parties supporting Mr. Dion's House of Commons resolution calling on the federal Conservative government to meet those targets and to impose hard caps on industrial polluters? Although the resolution is non-binding, the Liberals are also pushing through legislation calling for the implementation of the accord; the bill will be put to a final vote in two weeks. Either Mr. Dion is naive or, more likely, he has disingenuously placed politics ahead of common sense. What can he be thinking?

Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse-gas emissions in 1998, ratifying it in 2002. It became legally binding in February of 2005. Last May, after years of Liberal inaction, Ottawa conceded the level of emissions in 2004 was 34.6 per cent above the Kyoto target of 563 million tonnes. The level is even higher now, probably 780 million tonnes. But, under the treaty, energy-exporting Canada has promised to cut emissions to an average of 563 million tonnes a year in 2008-12.

It is virtually impossible to meet those targets. Suppose Alberta eliminated all tar-sands development, including all existing development. That would cripple the province's economy, but it would save 30 million tonnes a year. Suppose Ontario shut down all of its coal-fired electrical-generation plants. That would save 24 million tonnes. Not even close to the targets.

To meet those targets, Canada would almost certainly be forced to buy emissions credits from other nations. That market is tight, because the Europeans and the Japanese have also been buying credits, often from the offshore operations of corporations that pay taxes to them. That's very convenient for them. Suppose Canada bought 90 million tonnes a year over the five-year period of the treaty? At the current price of roughly $23 a tonne, that could hit $10-billion. Even then, Canada would not meet its treaty obligations.

It gets worse. The Kyoto Protocol is essentially a trade treaty. Other nations, such as the United States and Britain, sent financially savvy negotiators. Canada sent aid and environmental experts. The terms reflect that imbalance. Energy-exporting nations such as Canada are held responsible for 60 per cent of all emissions from exported products such as natural gas.

Perhaps worst of all -according to Aldyen Donnelly of the Greenhouse Emissions Management Consortium, a not-for-profit group of some of Canada's largest emitters - European nations were given more quota than they needed. During the 1990s, nations such as Britain cut their consumption of red meat, reducing methane emissions. North Sea oil and natural-gas production dwindled. Coal imports rose, leaving producing nations, under Kyoto, on the hook for most of the emissions. Eastern European nations modernized Soviet-era factories. Many European countries will meet their targets, building up credits that carry past 2012.

And that is where the trouble begins. Any nation that falls short of its commitments must carry a deficit multiplied by 1.3 onto its post-Kyoto balance sheet. If Canada does not meet its commitments, if it does not buy credits from other nations after 2012, Europe and Japan can impose sanctions on Canadian exports under World Trade Organization rules. "Essentially the treaty is operating against us as a permanent wealth transfer to other nations," Ms. Donnelly concludes.

Those are serious issues that Canadians have to discuss openly and rationally. The former Liberal government had earmarked funding to buy emissions credits abroad. But surely any federal funding would be far better spent on the development of better technologies or more stringent auto-emissions policies to curtail greenhouse gases. As a staunch environmentalist, Mr. Dion knows the extent of the challenge - and the expensive risk of failure. Yet he is pressing the government to adhere fully to a treaty whose terms Canada cannot hope to fulfill.

The answer lies in improved technology, not in a poorer society. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday, there "are no quick fixes to this. You can't just snap your fingers" and solve the problem. That doesn't give the government an excuse to ignore the calamity of global warming, but trying to meet the unattainable goals Canada set within Kyoto is not the way to proceed.

Copyright 2007 - The Globe and Mail



From: The Edmonton Journal

Dion's eco concerns just another NEP
Liberals' environmental caps on oilsands designed to keep Ottawa on top of West
By: Lorne Gunter
Published: Sunday, February 04, 2007

In 1980, during Alberta's last energy boom, the federal Liberals - who had been out of office for nine months during the Joe Clark hiccup - won re-election by portraying Clark as a puppet of the Alberta government.

One Liberal ad that ran only in Ontario contained footage of Clark (a prime minister from Alberta) and Premier Peter Lougheed talking together and smiling. The voice-over said, "Ontarians should pay attention to the budget that demonstrates how easily Joe Clark would give in to Premier Lougheed and Alberta on energy prices."

Privately, among party organizers, Liberal campaign manager Keith Davey loved to sum up his campaign strategy as "Screw the West, we'll take the rest!"

During the election, there was no talk of the National Energy Program (NEP) the Liberals would impose on the West one year later, a program that taxed away about $160 billion from Alberta's economy during the 1980s.

Only once during the campaign did Liberal leader Pierre Trudeau make even a vague reference to his plans should his Grits retake office. He told a meeting of the Halifax Board of Trade that he would impose a "made-in-Canada" price if elected, one that would force Alberta and the other energy-producing provinces to sell their oil and gas at below world prices within Canada.

Publicly, the Liberals claimed their interest in Alberta's energy was simply to ensure "self-sufficiency," so Canada would not be dependent on foreign energy sources. However, as Marc Lalonde, the architect of the NEP, would later admit, the major impetus behind the program wasn't "Canadianization" of the energy industry (driving out the American companies that dominated the oil and gas sector), or getting more money from the oil industry, "or even self-sufficiency. The determinant factor was the fiscal imbalance between the provinces and the federal government."

While the Liberals told voters their goals were more Canadian ownership and decreased reliance on foreign oil, their real purpose was to make sure Ottawa remained the big dog of Confederation.

The Liberals were worried that if Alberta and the West became too rich, Ottawa would lose some of its ability to dictate national policy. Ideas other than the Liberals' might become influential and that would never do.

So they devised a scheme to tax away our prosperity and wrap the attack up in noble rhetoric.

Well, it looks like 1980 all over again. Only this time instead of self-sufficiency as the Liberal buzz phrase for their raid on the West's once-again booming economy, it will be "sustainable development." Instead of economic nationalism as the excuse for their power grab, the Liberals will use the environment. They will claim they are merely out to save the planet from global warming, but their real goal will be to save Ottawa's chokehold on power.

In the upcoming campaign, they will make scant mention of their schemes to wrest control of the West's newfound money and power, but expect them to portray Alberta-based Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a shill for Big Oil and the Alberta government.

Expect them to run ads in some regions (but not others), charging that Harper doesn't care about the environment, that he only cares about helping the West get richer, even if it means destroying the planet for your kids.

But after the election, expect the Liberals - should they win - to look for draconian new ways to impose themselves on the oil and gas industry.

Indeed, this past week, we were given strong hints of what a Liberal government might do to the West.

Mark Holland, an Ontario Liberal MP who was made his party's Natural Resources critic by new Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, gave two staggering interviews on radio, one with Charles Adler of Adler Online and the other with Dave Rutherford.

On Adler's Thursday show, Holland was asked whether the Liberals would limit oilsands expansion in order to ensure Canada could meet its Kyoto emissions targets.

"Exactly," he replied.

Asked whether his party might even impose limits on how much oil could be taken from the sands, Holland said "Yeah, I think what you are going to see is we're going to say you cannot exploit that resource, basically go in there and pump it out as fast as you can to give it to the Americans and sell out our national interests and blow apart our emissions targets."

It's all the old, tired Liberal shibboleths - anti-Americanism, economic nationalism, regional scaremongering - rolled into one.

Friday, Holland went further on the Rutherford show.

When asked whether the Liberals might nationalize the oilsands if Alberta refused to go along with Ottawa's development caps, Holland said his party would try to "work with them collaboratively," but "of course, if they refuse to work with us ... there will be consequences."

About a year ago, a reader asked me to explain the NEP. He had been too young to remember it.

Don't worry, my young friend. You're about to live through NEP II.

Write to Lorne Gunter at: lgunter@shaw.ca

Copyright 2007 - The Edmonton Journal


A book on the left and why it is loony...

Check it out at: http://www.politicos.co.uk/books/26989.htm?ginPtrCode=10410

What's Left?
How Liberals Lost Their Way
By: Nick Cohen

Description of What's Left?
From the much-loved, witty and excoriating voice of journalist Nick Cohen, a powerful and irreverent dissection of the agonies, idiocies and compromises of mainstream liberal thought. Nick Cohen comes from the Left. While growing up, his mother would search the supermarket shelves for politically reputable citrus fruit and despair. When, at the age of 13, he found out that his kind and thoughtful English teacher voted Conservative, he nearly fell off his chair: 'To be good, you had to be on the Left.' Today he's no less confused. When he looks around him, in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, he sees a community of Left-leaning liberals standing on their heads. Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam that stands for everything the liberal-Left is against come from a section of the Left? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the Left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal-Left, but not, for instance, China, the Sudan, Zimbabwe or North Korea? Why can't those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a liberal literary journal as in a neo-Nazi rag? It's easy to know what the Left is fighting against - the evils of Bush and corporations - but what and, more to the point, who are they fighting for? As he tours the follies of the Left, Nick Cohen asks us to reconsider what it means to be liberal in this confused and topsy-turvy time. With the angry satire of Swift, he reclaims the values of democracy and solidarity that united the movement against fascism, and asks: What's Left?


Rick Mercer bitches out a peacenik...

From: The Independent

Friday, January 26, 2007
By: Rick Mercer
For The Independent

Poor Noreen Golfman. She wrote in her Jan. 12 column (Blowing in the Wind ...) that her holidays were ruined by what she felt were incessant reports about Canadian men and women serving in Afghanistan. So upset was Noreen that, armed with her legendary pen, sharpened from years in the trenches at Memorial University's women's studies department, she went on the attack. I know I should just ignore the good professor and write her off as another bitter baby boom academic pining for what she fondly calls "the protest songs of yesteryear," but I can't help myself. A response is exactly what she wants; and so I include it here. After all, Newfoundlanders have seen this before: Noreen Golfman, sadly, is Margaret Wente without the wit.

Dear Noreen,

I am so sorry to hear about the interruption to your holiday cheer. You say in your column that it all started when the CBC ran a story on some "poor sod" who got his legs blown off in Afghanistan.

The "poor sod" in question, Noreen, has a name and it is Cpl. Paul Franklin. He is a medic in the Forces and has been a buddy of mine for years. I had dinner with him last week in Edmonton, in fact. I will be sure to pass on to him that his lack of legs caused you some personal discomfort this Christmas.

Paul is a pretty amazing guy. You would like him I think. When I met him years ago he had two good legs and a brutally funny sense of humour. He was so funny that I was pretty sure he was a Newfoundlander. You probably know the type (or maybe you don't) - salt of the earth, always smiling, and like so many health-care professionals, seemingly obsessed with helping others in need.

These days he spends his time training other health-care workers and learning how to walk again. That's a pretty exhausting task for Paul ... heading into rehabilitation he knew very well his chances of walking again were next to none, considering he's a double amputee, missing both legs above the knee.

At the risk of ruining your day Noreen, I'm proud to report that for the last few months he has managed to walk his son to school almost every morning and it's almost a kilometre from his house. Next month Paul hopes to travel to Washington where he claims he will learn how to run on something he calls "bionic flipper cheetah feet." The legs may be gone but the sense of humour is still very much intact.

Forgive me Noreen for using Paul's name so much, but seeing as you didn't catch it when CBC ran the profile on his recovery I thought it might be nice if you perhaps bothered to remember it from here on in. This way, when you are pontificating about him at a dinner party, you no longer have to refer to him simply as the "poor sod," but you can actually refer to him as Paul Franklin. You may prefer "poor sod" of course; it's all a matter of how you look at things. You see a "poor sod" that ruined your Christmas and I see a truly inspiring guy. That's why I am thrilled that the CBC saw fit to run a story on Paul and his wife Audra. I would go so far as to suggest that many people would find their story, their marriage and their charitable endeavours inspiring. Just as I am sure that many readers of The Independent are inspired by your suggestion that Paul's story has no place on the public broadcaster.

Further on in your column you ask why more people aren't questioning Canada's role in Afghanistan. I understand this frustration. It's a good question. Why should Canada honour its United Nations-sanctioned NATO commitments? Let's have the discussion. I would welcome debate on the idea that Canada should simply ignore its international obligations and pull out of Afghanistan. By all means ask the questions Noreen, but surely such debates can occur without begrudging the families of injured soldiers too much airtime at Christmas?

Personally, I would have thought that as a professor of women's studies you would be somewhat supportive of the notion of a NATO presence in Afghanistan. After all, it is the NATO force that is keeping the Taliban from power. In case you missed it Noreen, the Taliban was a regime that systematically de-peopled women to the point where they had no human rights whatsoever. This was a country where until very recently it was illegal for a child to fly a kite or for a little girl to receive any education.

To put it in terms you might understand Noreen, rest assured the Taliban would frown on your attending this year's opening night gala of the St. John's International Women's Film Festival. In fact, as a woman, a professor, a writer and (one supposes) an advocate of the concept that women are people, they would probably want to kill you three or four times over. Thankfully that notion is moot in our cozy part of the world but were it ever come to pass I would suggest that you would be grateful if a "poor sod" like Paul Franklin happened along to risk his life to protect yours.

And then of course you seem to be somehow personally indignant that I would visit troops in Afghanistan over Christmas. You ask the question "When did the worm turn?" Well I hate to break it to you, but in my case this worm has been doing this for a long time now. It's been a decade since I visited Canadian peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and this Christmas marked my third trip to Afghanistan. Why do I do it? Well I am not a soldier - that much is perfectly clear. I don't have the discipline or the skills. But I am an entertainer and entertainers entertain. And occasionally, like most Canadians, I get to volunteer my professional time to causes that I find personally satisfying.

As a Newfoundlander this is very personal to me. On every one of these trips I meet Newfoundlanders who serve proudly in the Canadian Forces. Every day they do the hard work that we as a nation ask of them. They do this without complaint and they do it knowing that at every turn there are people like you, Noreen, suggesting that what they do is somehow undignified or misguided.

I am also curious Noreen why you refer to the head of the Canadian Forces, General Rick Hillier, as "Rick 'MUN graduate' Hillier." I would suggest that if you wish to criticize General Hillier's record of leadership or service to his country you should feel free. He is a big boy. However, when you dismiss him as "Rick 'MUN Graduate' Hillier" the message is loud and clear. Are you suggesting that because General Hillier received an education at Memorial he is somehow unqualified for high command? We are used to seeing this type of tactic in certain national papers - not The Independent.

You end by saying you personally cannot envision that peace can ever be paved with military offensives. May I suggest to you that in many instances in history peace has been achieved exactly that way.

The gates of Auschwitz were not opened with peace talks. Holland was not liberated by peacekeepers and fascism was not defeated with a deft pen. Time and time again men and women in uniform have laid down their lives in just causes and in an effort to free others from oppression.

It is unfortunate, Noreen, that in such instances people like yourself may have your sensitivities offended, especially during the holiday season, but perhaps that is a small price to pay. Best wishes for the remainder of 2007; may it be a year of peace and prosperity.

Copyright 2007 - The Independent


Watch Dion take a cheap shot...

From: http://stevejanke.com/archives/214083.php?menu=news&submenu=canada


Accountability where it counts...

From: The Financial Times

Gold miner calls for regulation of ‘rogue NGOs’
By: James Montgomery in Davos
Published: January 25 2007 13:19

The damage caused by “rogue NGOs” - social and environmental activists that lack the accountability of established pressure groups - is “getting to be incalculable,” Peter Munk, chairman of Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold miner, warned on Thursday.

The rapid proliferation of small groups that did not explain their funding, aims or methods had created an urgent need for a system of regulation that would hold them to the same standards of transparency as the companies and governments they criticised, he argued.

Mr Munk voiced his concerns at a closed session at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday. But in an interview with the FT he said: “Mining, unfortunately, is not like creating software or video games. We are exhausting existing resources and we have got to find new areas to mine.

“These NGOs are threatening more and more projects, and the local population is left behind with no hope.

“NGOs must subscribe to and accept the same level of transparency as we do.”

Mr Munk stressed that well-established groups such as Amnesty International and the Sierra Club played an invaluable role and adhered to high standards of behaviour. But the past decade had brought a rapid increase in the number of smaller organisations whose activities not only impeded economic development in some of the poorest countries in the world but also created in effect a new “global tax” by raising the price of all raw materials.

He called for national governments and mining industry bodies should work towards a system of regulation for these groups in the same way that previous initiatives had successfully curbed unscrupulous practices by small businesses and misleading consumer advertising.

Copyright 2007 - The Financial Times Limited

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