Open Letter to Politicians, Unions, Grassroots organizations, media, individuals etc. - updated version April 2 2006
Ivona Vujica, PAML
02 Apr 2006 03:27 GMT
Open Letter to Politicians, Unions, Grassroots organizations, media, individuals etc. concerning an unprecedented and dangerous proposed partnership between "notorious" bio-chem-nuke-advanced weapons of mass destruction Pentago-CIA contractor Battelle Memorial Institute and University of Toronto, MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences - Toronto's biotech convergence hub) and the National Research Council (NRC). The partnership would create the National Biomedical Centre in downtown Toronto through which all biomedical research would flow (including research from teaching hospitals etc.). Battelle would be in the key position as manager and would place for all intents and purposes Pentagon-CIA interests (Battelle) at the heart of our Public Health and Public Higher Education systems. Collectively we can and must stop this partnership.
This letter is submitted to all MPPs, MPs, senators, politicians, Unions, grassroots organizations etc
We would like to draw your attention to an urgent matter that involves the Minister of Research and Innovation who is Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Toronto’s biotech hub MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences), the Federal Liberal party, the 2005 Sheila Fraser Auditor-General’s Report, University of Toronto, the National Research Council and a proposed partnership with Battelle Memorial Institute (U.S. based).
Battelle is a top Pentagon - CIA contractor in the fields of biological - chemical - nuclear warfare and weapons of mass destruction research amongst many other military - CIA programs (please see the full list of links on Battelle attached. Also please see Murray Campbell Globe and Mail article “Questions of public research, public good” March 7/06, page A8).
In the Toronto Region Research Alliance (TRRA), which is co-chaired by John Evans and president and CEO of the Royal Bank and of which Toronto’s mayor David Miller sits on the board of directors (please note cash-strapped city of Toronto donated millions of dollars to the MaRS complex), Boston Consulting wrote a report (Dec 15, 2005 www.trra.ca) which states that the partnership with Battelle, UofT “would be supported by MaRS and leading research hospitals including the Hospital for Sick Children, University Health Network, Sunnybrook and Women’s, Mount Sinai and St. Michael’s” (page 6). A letter based on this report was sent to the leaders of all the political parties before the last federal election. They claimed that the issues are complex and not sexy, but are bread and butter issues that should be of concern to all – essentially they were asking for more money.
The partnership brings into question many important issues such as: lack of public accountability and ethics, possible misuse of public funds, the privatization of public research, higher education, healthcare along with many conflicts of interests (attached), not the least being that MaRS CEO, Ilse Treurnicht, is wife of UofT president David Naylor (both appointed in the last year - Treurnicht was appointed by John Evans who is chair of MaRS, former chair of TorStar, former chair of the Rockefeller Foundation, Alcan Aluminum, vice chair of BigPharma NPS Allelix and president emeritus of UofT. John Evans is also chair of Canada Foundation for Innovation, a major research funding agency.
University of Toronto’ submission to the Government of Canada (www.innovation.gc.ca/gol/innovation/site.nsf/en/in02401.html ) “Response to the Government of Canada’s Innovation Strategy, ” states:
With the creation of Medical and Related Sciences (MaRS) Discovery district in downtown Toronto, Canada is poised to become a major participant in the high-growth industries of biotechnology, drug development, information technology and advanced materials. The first of its kind in Canada, MaRS responds to calls from leaders in the academic, scientific, financial and corporate communities that Canada needs innovation clusters to harness the talent and knowledge of our best scientists and entrepreneurs.
The University of Toronto is a key force in the creation of this particular cluster, as both a financial investor and a future contributor of innovative, cutting-edge research that will be strengthened by MaRS. In close proximity to UofT and many of the teaching hospitals and research institutes associated with the University, MaRS will greatly enhance the University’s ability to transfer scientific and technological innovations to the marketplace.
This massive research-business complex will include not only UofT’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, but also the departments of chemistry and computer science, all of which are ranked among the most respected and innovative in North America. At least two incubators in biotechnology and information technology - will also be housed in MaRS facilities. With its expertise in business incubation and technology transfer, the University’s Innovations Foundation will likely play a significant role in the activities of the MaRS Discovery District.
MaRS will become a place where knowledge will converge with capital in order to develop ideas, enhance technologies and commercialize research. * (page 7)
* The Globe and Mail (February 21, 2006 : A1) reports that Canada’s CEOs-Council of Chief Executives are pushing for “setting up Commercialization Partnership Board, led by business to review and recommend programs for commercializing (privatizing) research.”
It goes on to say:
As a part of strategy to promote innovation clusters, we would propose a novel form of partnership between the Government of Canada and research-intensive universities. Research currently conducted in National Research Council and other national research facilities has the potential both to benefit from and to greatly enhance the synergies in discovery and innovation clusters associated with major research universities. We would propose that certain such facilities be located in these clusters and that they be managed by the respective universities. This is a model developed very successfully by the Government of the United States and particularly the Department of Defense (the Pentagon).
This UofT document was submitted during the term of former UofT president Robert Prichard who is now president and CEO of TorStar (Interim president of UofT Frank Iacobucci in 2005 replaced John Evans in July 2005 as chair of TorStar). Robert Prichard and David Naylor (former dean of the Faculty of Medicine) both infamously dealt with the Dr. Nancy Olivieri case (which dealt with accountability, lack of ethics, < public funds were used in a lawsuit by David Naylor against Doctors for Research Integrity and Olivieri “after the posting on the website of our organization Doctors for Research Integrity of a Toronto Star article critical of them” (Nancy Olivieri. Science for Peace Bulletin. September 2005. Page 2), healthcare/research, BigPharma, Hospital for Sick Children, funding etc). In short, David Naylor, Robert Prichard and the administration of Sick Kids’ used public money to silence a publicly accountable researcher and suppress information of utmost importance to public safety and wellbeing. “Almost as soon as this scandal reached the press, a now infamous document called the “Naimark” report was financed by Sick Kids.’ Authors Arnold Naimark, Bartha Knoppers and Fred Lowy took several hundred pages to document its claim that if anyone was at fault in this sorry tale, it was Dr. Nancy Olivieri, but directed no criticism towards Sick Kids’ or the university for their failure effectively to support my academic freedom” (ibid Olivieri). The Naimark report was later discredited. Olivieri famously was exonerated of all accusations but the same could not be said of the ethics of the University of Toronto, Sick Kids’ Hospital, BigPharma Apotex and the UofT Center for Bioethics-who were silent for 9 years. Robert Prichard “lobbied the Government of Canada through a private letter to the Prime Minister on behalf of the same drug company [which showed] ‘the lengths to which the University was prepared to go in appeasing a company’s interests…’” (Ibid Olivieri page 1).
Please note Arnold Naimark sits on the Board of Directors of Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, which is named in Shiela Fraser’s Auditor General Report 2005, which raises alarms about unaccountable foundations (see below).
In the final recommendations of the report, UofT states:
As a part of strategy to contribute to and to benefit from the emergence of dynamic discovery and innovation clusters, the Government of Canada should, on the model well established in the United States, establish national research facilities in select areas to be operated by research intensive universities. In the case of University of Toronto, we recommend that such facilities be established in the maRS Discovery District adjacent to the St. George campus, and on the Mississauga and Scarborough campuses, in areas such as cellular and biomolecular research, biotechnology, information technology and environmental science.
We agree that much more needs to be done to encourage and facilitate the transfer of knowledge, both through commercialization and through other forms of knowledge transfer to the public and not-for-profit sectors. We recommend a consortia-based approach to the development of support offices for commercialization and other technology transfer. On the basis of our experience with the University of Toronto Innovations Foundation and in conjunction with that agency, we would be pleased to work with Government to develop the appropriate programs and support. (page 12)
The # 1 recommendation in the report was to increase funding for the federal granting agencies.
Canada’s Auditor-General Sheila Fraser in her 2005 Auditor’s report raised alarms over billions of taxpayer dollars channeled into arm-length government foundations (agencies) not subject to public scrutiny. The lack of oversight could mean the misuse of tax dollars as in the sponsorship scandal which involved $ 100 M. Among the foundations Auditor-General listed were Genome Canada (of which Calvin Stiller sits on its board of directors as well as on the board of MaRS) and Canada Foundation for Innovation (the first and biggest foundation of all created under Paul Martin-Jean Chretien legacy. Its chair is John Evans who is also chair of MaRS). Another listed is Canada Institute for Advanced Research. Ilse Treurnicht, the CEO and president of MaRS sits on its board of directors. Both Canada Foundation for Innovation and Canada Institute for Advanced Research were sponsored by Industry Canada of which John Manley was minister. Presently, John Manley is a vice-chair of MaRS (Manley was also Deputy PM, Finance Minister, Minister for Public Security and chaired the Council on Foreign Relations (U.S) on Deep Integration and Convergence with the U.S – directly afterwards he was appointed vice chair of MaRS). Fraser also lists the Millenium Scholarship Foundation (supposedly created for benefit of students but long criticized by Canadian Federation of Students). Another that Fraser lists is the Forum of Federations of which Bob Rae is the chair and president. Also on the board of directors are David Cameron of University of Toronto and Alex Ekwueme, a former vice-president of Nigeria. Fraser also lists the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation of which Bob Rae is also on the board of directors, along with Paul Desmarias Jr., chair of Power Corp. of Canada (John Rae, brother of Bob Rae is executive VP of Power Corp and right hand man for Jean Chretien).
Bob Rae also sits on the board of directors of the Canada Chinese Business Council. Its chair is Peter Krupt who is chair of Power Pacific Corp. Hon. Chair is Andre Desmarias who is president and co-CEO of Power Corp. The founding chair is Paul Desmarias, chair of executive committee Power Corp. Also as Hon. Director is Maurice Strong. Rae stated March 14, 2006 that higher education is the greatest challenge especially as Canada tries to stay competitive with China. Rae is being touted for the liberal leadership by Greg Sorbara who himself is embroiled in scandal.
Bob Rae was trotted out recently with the Minister of Colleges and Universities Chris Bentley, to announce the average of five per cent increase in tuition for higher education: the announcement was made at MaRS on March 8, 2006 with Premier McGuinty’s private security detail posted to supposedly protect Rae and Bentley from students. Why was this announcement made at MaRS? It is neither a college or a university, perhaps because it is draining all the money that should be going to students?
What we are saying is that this is bigger and potentially much more damaging than the Sponsorship Scandal. During question period, Stephen Harper (then opposition leader) said that allowing foundations to operate without scrutiny showed that the Federal Government “has learned nothing from the Sponsorship Scandal.” Harper further said “that scandal happened because the liberals stashed millions away from the watch of parliament. Even after repeated warnings, billions of dollars continue to be hidden away in these unaccountable research funding foundations. When will the government learn and put the foundations under the scrutiny of Parliament and the Auditor-General?”
In Chapter 4, Accountability of Foundations of the February 2005 Report of the Auditor General of Canada, Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts – June 2005 on page 17 the Bloc Quebecois takes the leadership mantle on this issue by stating, “[t]he Bloc Quebecois therefore reiterates here that foundations must ultimately be abolished and brought back under the control of the appropriate departments.”
Bluntly put, the various foundations could harbour the kinds of contracting irregularities, insider back-scratching and lack of value for money that defined the Sponsorship Scandal. The difference being that it was through public audits that we came to know of the sponsorship program. No such public oversight exists for the public foundations.
* Also see the controversial Technology Partnership Canada Scheme which issued conditional loans but public audits indicated that Industry Canada recouped only half of the $2 billion it gave out (“Not all handouts are created equal” - National Post, February 18, 2006)
*Please note that recently more than 60 of Canada’s elite establishment including UofT president David Naylor and many others sitting on the foundations mentioned by Fraser signed a letter – petition- to PM Stephen Harper calling to drop many key Gomery recommendations (“Accountability that hot potato” by John Ibbitson, Globe March 8, 2006) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/v4/sub/MarketingPage?user_URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com%2Fservlet%2Fstory%2FLAC.20060308.IBBITSON08%2FTPStory%2FTPComment%2F%3Fquery%3D&ord=1142475577245&brand=theglobeandmail&force_login=true
* Also see an article on newly appointed supreme court justice Marshall Rothstein, who has the particular distinction of having to disagree with the sitting Supreme Court over patenting of higher life forms. He approved the “Harvard mouse case” in his Manitoba Appeals Court. This is what Canadian biotechnology advocates have been clamoring to have overturned http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2006-03-09/news_story3.php
Ilse Treurnicht in Murray Campbell’s Globe article “Question of public research, public good?” (March 7, 2006:A8) states that funding agencies identify research subjects for the MaRS Discovery District of which she is the CEO. As we have pointed out Treurnicht, Evans and other MaRS directors sit on these funding agencies that Auditor General Sheila Fraser has raised alarms about. Recently the University of Toronto has placed its Innovations Foundation Corp. under the direction of the associate provost of research John Challis. Mr. Challis sits on the board of directors of MaRS. In fact, many key administrators of UofT sit on the board of directors of MaRS. UofT does not have ethical guidelines for types and lines of research or research partnerships, nor does it publicly disclose its investments and donations.
We urge political leadership, integrity and swift action to halt the proposed partnership with Battelle Memorial Institute, MaRS, UofT and the NRC. We strongly urge the necessity for a Public Inquiry into the above stated matters.
For more information please see
1. Report on higher education and military partnerships
2. Battelle links
Ivona Vujica, M.Ed. OISE/UT
People Against Militarization of Life (Int’l / Toronto) – PAML
416 760 6107
(PAML is a network of academics, students, grassroots organizations and individuals. Previously known as People Against Militarization of OISE/UofT (PAMO), they led a struggle which was won against military partnerships at OISE/UofT and which involved the Department of National Defense (DND), a military contractor Atlantis Systems International amongst others and four Toronto elementary schools).
The Science Advisory Board
“Some Thoughts on Biodefense Research” by Jen van Aken and Edward Hammond
“Only a very thin line separates offensive and defensive bioweapons research … often it is a matter intent whether a given experiment is offensive or defensive. Many biodefense projects are contracted out to civilian laboratories and/or may be controlled by the military, e.g. large parts of military research are performed at national laboratories that belong to the Department of Energy” (many of these are managed by Battelle).
Ontario’s Health Minister George Smitherman recently stated that a new public health $40 million dollar laboratory will be located at MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences) Complex where the government lab can work more closely with other labs.
Please see 40 of Canada’s top scientists attack Ottawa’s funding strategy Science, Vol 308, Issue 5730, 1867, June 24, 2005 http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/308/5730/1867b
The Financial Post article, “It’s All in the Gene Pool” (February 25, 2006 : FP1,4,5) states there is a “retreat by Quebec venture capitalists from biotech startups…” Further it quotes Charlie Fong, director of venture capital with the Federal Business Development Bank of Canada saying “we’re the only ones funding startups, it seems.”
Also note that UofT’s Cathy Riggall, VP business affairs, states “we are refocusing on the mission of transferring knowledge and no longer taking the risk associated with investing in startup companies.” (UofT Bulletin, March 6, 2006 : p.5)
We demand Public Accountability, Oversight, Public Safety, Integrity and high Ethical Standards – it is our public taxpayer monies from all three levels of government that are paying for the MaRS complex.
David Peterson was recently appointed as chancellor of UofT http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1141944645616
The spin of the Toronto Star article says that Peterson was appointed as a direct relation to us (PAML campaign). Everything stated in the article in relation to us was true. Mr. Peterson was very open and respectful to us, however we must ask as the article does – is the high profile appointment of a former liberal premier – UofT’s stake as a bedrock for the Liberal Party? We ask this because Peterson is an active insider/player in the Liberal Party. In fact, the NDP has called for an investigation by the Ethics Czar into the cross-over of Conservative Belinda Stronach to the Liberals in a pivotal vote on no Confidence. Mr. Peterson, played a key role in her cross-over.
If all doors become shut, we have no choice but to mount an unprecedented international campaign – boycott against the University of Toronto, MaRS, Battelle and the NRC, and to expose possible corruption, misuse of public funds and lack of public oversight of our public (funding) foundations as named in the Auditor-General’s Report.
* PAML expresses strong support for Canadian veteran groups challenging Bill C-45. Canada’s most decorated soldier since the Korean War Sgt. Tom Hoppe, who was cited for bravery in former Yugoslavia 1994 for saving three children under fire from snipers, states, “As a citizen and former soldier, I was shocked to find out the new veterans bill … takes away more than it gives to our troops in Afghanistan if they get hurt. Under existing rules, a permanently injured soldier receives 75% of their salary plus a lifetime disability benefit that could amount to hundreds of dollars a month. The new legislation would replace that benefit with a lump sum.” Such a policy has been successfully pursued by Battelle and Pentagon in the U.S. It in effect abandons our soldiers once they become injured or disabled over the long-term. We strongly urge the government not to adopt such a draconian policy towards our soldiers. It would be a grievous betrayal of trust.
Please see much more information on biotech convergence hubs below. Please note that the father of biotech and founder of BIO, the largest umbrella organization for biotech hubs in the world – centered in Washington D.C., is Carl Feldbaum, who previously was the Inspector General for Defense Intelligence at the Pentagon.
MaRS is an evolved form of corporate response to regulation biopharma encountered in the U.S. According to “Boston University’s Biolab and the Law” article by Daniel Goodenough and David Ozonoff February 10, 2006, “in 1994, the Boston Public Health Commission adopted regulations banning the use of recombinant DNA techniques – genetic engineering … - within Biosafety Level –4 laboratories. These regulations were adopted …in order to protect public health and safety in a densely populated urban area.” They also developed “laboratory regulations for the city after the tularemia outbreak at the Boston University’s Medical School in 2004.”
* Battelle Institute would take the management position (filter) for all public research which would be directed through the proposed National Biomedical Centre at MaRS. This includes all research from the teaching hospitals, institutes etc. For all intents and purposes, the “Pentagon – CIA” would be positioned in the heart of our public health and higher education.
Please see the European Commission’s document on biotech hubs called “Converging technology for the European Knowledge Society – CTEKS” http://www.ntnu.no/2020/final_report_en.pdf
See the American vision for biotech hubs known as NBIC (Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology, Cognitive Science) http://www.wtec.org/ConvergingTechnologies/Report/NBIC_report.pdf
Agendas for convergence include “[c]onverging technologies for improving human performance or converging technology for battlefield domination.” – CTEKS
“Embeddedness: Technologically created second nature serves as a habitat for human action in work and leisure. It is sandwiched between original “first” nature with its geographical, meteorological, agricultural conditions and evolved culture with its local history, traditions, values, ways of living. Since each society or each region finds itself in a specific first nature and has developed its own culture, it will tend to produce a culturally specific artificial environment or second nature. CTs might serve to homogenize and globalize the world.” (p.26) CTEKS
Both the European vision and the American vision for convergence biotech hubs looks at the “total constructability of humanity and nature.” The EU vision looks at the engineering for the mind vs. the American “engineering of the mind.”
“The convergence of nanotechnology and other enabling technologies in specific engineering projects expresses an underlying philosophical agenda, namely the total constructability of humanity and nature. To the extent that ambient computing and other CTEKS engineer entire systems or artificial environments, they offer a constructed second nature in place of first or original nature. This artificial nature is also culturally determined in that it is a product of human creativity. It replaces the original function of culture, namely to assert the realm of humanity against that of nature … CTs raise legal and philosophical issues regarding human inviolability, dignity and autonomy. This begins with the seemingly inconspicuous case where more and more decisions are delegated to machines. This is initially done for the sake of convenience or security, but ultimately with the effect of loss of knowledge and skill and a surrender of autonomy and responsibility.” CTEKS p.33, 34
Please circulate and post widely the struggle continues…
phone:: 416 760 6107