[Peter Munk Donation] Biting the Hand That Feeds Them – Financial Post Editorial

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper. This column was originally published in the Financial Post on January 22, 2011.

In 2006, he [Peter Munk] announced a donation of $37-million to Toronto General Hospital, for support of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre … That was the largest gift ever made to a Canadian medical institution … (Financial Post, January 22, 2011)

Peter Munk is donating $35-million to the University of Toronto. But all left-wing activists see is the evil spectre of ‘corporatization’

Today, the University of Toronto is the site of a major protest event, which will be led by academics flown in from California, and by Toronto Star writer Linda Mc-Quaig. What’s the object of the activists’ ire — Aboriginal rights? Stephen Harper? Israel? The United States? The contested territorial status of the land-locked Central Asian region of Nagorno-Karabakh?

Nope. None of the above. The seven-hour “Anti-Corporatization teach-in” scheduled to take place at U of T’s Sidney Smith Hall will target the decision of an alumnus to give the university $35-million. Oh, the horror.

The alumnus in question is gold magnate Peter Munk, and his donation will go toward funding the U of T’s Munk School for Global Affairs. If the school’s name sounds familiar, it could be because of the global acclaim won by its Citizen Lab, which in 2010 helped uncover a network of 1,294 computers in 103 countries that had been compromised by a virus originating in China. Or it could be because of the work of renowned scholars such as director Janice Stein, who has co-authored the definitive book on Canada’s deployment to Afghanistan.

The Munk School for Global Affairs is hardly a mouthpiece for running-dog imperialists. The chair of the school’s advisory board is John Manley, a federal Liberal who arguably defined the precise geometric centre of Canadian politics. In March, the school’s Centre for the Study of Korea will open North Korean Images At Utopia’s Edge, the first exhibition of North Korean art ever shown in Canada. How exactly does the glorification of one of the last communist nations left on the planet fit into the imagined “corporatization” agenda?

We have no idea — and neither, apparently, do the protest organizers, who instead just ask a series of spooky-sounding questions: “What are the implications of this donation? How much influence will Munk have over the university’s curriculum and bias? Who is Peter Munk and what is his company Barrick Gold’s reputation worldwide? Financial crisis and austerity have ignited a new wave of student protest around the world, from Berkeley to London, Athens to San Juan. Our intention with this conference is to empower local critical thinkers and activists to devise our plan in the fight for just education. Our goal is to launch the ‘Reclaiming the U of T.’ ”

Let’s put aside the obvious fact that higher education is important, and that the continued excellence of universities such as U of T relies heavily on private donations from philanthropists such as Peter Munk. What exactly is the secret agenda that the activists fear?

This is hardly the first time that Mr. Munk has made a massive donation to a public institution: In 2006, he announced a donation of $37-million to Toronto General Hospital, for support of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (which, presumably, these same activists will refuse to enter if their exertions give them chest pains). That was the largest gift ever made to a Canadian medical institution– but by the logic of “anti-corporatization” activists, Toronto General should have refused the cash and just let heart-attack victims cool their heels in the general-admission emergency room.

For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/Biting+hand+that+feeds+them/4148838/story.html

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