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UPDATE: Did Harper’s chief of staff lobby for Barrick Gold?

Did Harper’s chief of staff lobby for Barrick Gold? The Canadian Press reports, “Pointed questions are beginning to swirl around Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, and whether he used his position to further the financial interests of (his) friends at Barrick Gold Corp. Ethics commissioner Mary Dawson is following up with Wright after the disclosure that he was lobbied twice by Barrick, the world’s largest gold producer, in May. …According to a report summary filed by Barrick with the federal lobbying commissioner, someone from the company — the report does not identify who — contacted Wright on May 14 to discuss international relations and international trade. Nine days later, a second report indicates, Barrick talked to Wright again on the same subject matter — this time along with Harper’s foreign policy adviser, Andrea van Vugt, and his principal secretary, Ray Novak, who is Harper’s point man on government-to-government relations. …Barrick operates a mine in Argentina and is developing another controversial open pit gold and silver mine that straddles the border between Chile and Argentina. Companies were ‘freaked out’ that Harper’s performance at the Summit of the Americas (where he blocked a resolution on Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands) was making it harder for them to obtain permits from the Argentine government for their mining operations, said New Democrat MP and ethics critic Charlie Angus.”

The controversial open pit mine on the Argentine-Chilean border is the proposed Pascua Lama mine. An opponent of that mine, Sergio Campusano Villches, the president of the Comunidad Agrícola Diaguita Los Huascoaltinos/ the Diaguita Huascoaltinos Indigenous and Agricultural Community, spoke at ‘Shout Out Against Mining Injustice’ this past June in Vancouver (see photo of Sergio speaking at a rally in defence of Teztan Biny/ Fish Lake outside the Taseko annual shareholders meeting).

Additionally, in April 2010 at the Peoples World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Sara Larrain of Programa Chile Sustentable stated, “The Canadian company Barrick Gold wanted to destroy a glacier for the Pascua Lama mining project. Mining covers the glaciers with dust which makes them melt faster, but also mining companies destroy glaciers directly. Mining is taking away the future of water. They are climate criminals. They must be sued, taken to the Climate Justice Tribunal.” Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow added, “What Canadian mining companies do here and our refusal to lower our climate impact are a crime against humanity. And I intend to fight very hard to tell the story of what this crime is doing to the people of the Andes and to expose what Canadian mining companies are doing here.”

For more on the controversial water-depleting, glacier-damaging Pascua Lama project, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=15251. Today’s news article can be read at http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/pm-s-chief-of-staff-faces-conflict-of-interest-questions-over-barrick-links-1.932692. More on the issue of glacier protection and Pascua Lama at the Peoples World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth in Bolivia can be found at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=2948.