Commentary: Slick Willy, Shakira and Scientologists party with miners

Are these boom times or what? The mining community in Toronto soaked in a rare bit of showbiz glamour in the lead u...
Are these boom times or what? The mining community in Toronto soaked in a rare bit of showbiz glamour in the lead up to the Prospectors and Developers of Canada convention in Toronto.

The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI) charity rolled into town on March 1 to hold a banquet and raise money for Third World mining communities. Guests and performers included former U. S. president Bill Clinton, Elton John, Robin Williams, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Shakira, Wyclef Jean, Norah Jones, Burton Cummings and Eugene Levy.

While we applaud good works and hope this one becomes a success, it's been eight months since the CGSGI was launched and it's still not clear what the charity is actually doing to alleviate poverty, or even what the specific plans are.

Clinton's larger umbrella charity, the William J. Clinton Foundation, has come under fire south of the border for its lack of transparency for refusing to reveal its list of donors, which include the Saudi royal family and foreign governments. The foundation has raised more than US$500 million so far, including US$131 million from mining financier and former movie mogul Frank Giustra.

Political donations to Bill's wife Hillary, who is running for U. S. president, are capped at US$2,300 per person per election and limited to U. S. citizens, while donations to the Clinton Foundation can be anonymous, unlimited, and made by anyone.

Thus a concern is that major political influence with Hillary can be had by donating to the Clinton Foundation, especially with Bill insisting he would continue to raise money for his foundation if Hillary becomes president, and would then only reveal the donors on a "go-forward" basis. Hillary is also refusing to release her income tax statements unless she wins the Democratic Party's nomination as presidential candidate.

Media access was constrained at the CGSGI event, probably in response to recent, highly critical articles and editorials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Bloomberg that looked at how Giustra flew Bill to Kazakhstan in September 2005 to meet with its strongman president, soon after which Giustra's company UrAsia Energy (since merged into Uranium One) was awarded lucrative state-owned uranium assets there. Giustra followed up months later with a US$31-million donation to the Clinton Foundation, a sum that was only acknowleged in December 2007. Giustra and Clinton say these things are unconnected.--The preceding appeared as an editorial in The Northern Miner



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