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Monday, May 31, 2010

The Fraser Institute's Role

A CULTURE OF DEFIANCE: History of the Reform-Conservative Party of Canada

"The Fraser Institute is another formerly obscure group whose rise to prominence coincided nicely with the advent of Canada's neo-conservative politicians, and it has been front and centre of the far right's fight to rethink Canadians' political values and beliefs.... the Institute was set up in the same fashion as several other right-wing groups in the United States, employing a core group of researchers and also engaging like-minded neo-conservative academics from other countries to conduct specific studies.

"To further heighten the international and academic cachet of its work, a second board was set up and given prominence in institute literature, deliberately overshadowing the real power and corporate funds behind the organization. While the Board of Trustees represents a Who's Who of the business elite in Canada, it is almost never referred to; instead, the board of advisers has successfully been established as the academic window dressing. (1)

Friedrich Von Hayek, who is thought to be the pioneer of the libertarian movement, originated the idea of setting up fake scholarly organizations to supply authoritative studies demonstrating the superiority of markets over governments in solving all our problems. Why fake, asks Don Gutenstein. "Because a genuine academic organization would not start with a conclusion and then look for arguments and evidence to support it." (2)

The Fraser Institute was founded in 1974 by Michael Walker, an economist from the University of Western Ontario and businessman T. Patrick Boyle, then a Vice President of MacMillan Bloedel. Most of the original financing came from the forestry giant MacMillan-Bloedel, who commissioned Walker to attack the NDP government of British Columbia, under then Premier Dave Barrett.

The Fraser has since worked continuously to forge greater ties with the United States, and began;

"... setting up a Centre for Canadian-American Relations to promote greater economic integration of the two countries. Harper has often voiced his support for deeper integration. It's another strategy for reducing the role of government."

"The Fraser has churned out books hyping hemispheric integration for 15 years. These studies make the point that Canadian prosperity is a result of trade with the U.S. and the free-trade agreements. If we want more prosperity, we need more integration. A 1996 publication, Money and Markets in the Americas: New Challenges, for instance, advocated a monetary union. Michael Wilson--Bay Street broker, Brian Mulroney's minister of finance, and Harper's ambassador to the U.S.--contributed a chapter." (2)

When Stephen Harper was helping Preston Manning to create the Reform Party, he visited the Fraser Institute to make sure they were still on board with creating a neoconservative alternative to the current conservative government, and they did not disappoint. In fact many of Harper's MPs were plucked from the Fraser, including Jason Kenney and Rob Anders.

The Fraser also had strong ties with Conrad Black, the man who helped to finance and create Canada's sharp right turn.

Former members of the board of trustees include David Asper, whose family owns CanWest Global, Canada's largest media corporation; Barbara Amiel, wife of Conrad Black; and David Radler, Black's former business partner. (3)

In 2004, Stephen Harper attended the Fraser Institutes 30th anniversary, and payed tribute to the organization that had played such an integral role in the success of the neoconservative movement:

The scene was the glitzy Imperial Ballroom of Calgary's Hyatt Regency, where 1,200 adoring libertarians, conservatives, and reactionaries paid $300 each to hear four prominent conservative politicians--Ralph Klein, Mike Harris, Preston Manning, and Harper--pay tribute to the Fraser's success in pushing political thought in Canada to the right, helping make their careers possible. (2)

Next: Conrad Black's Role - Media Manipulation


1. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2, Pg 420-421

2. Harperstein, By Donald Gutstein, Straight Goods, July 6, 2006

3. Wikipedia

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