Once again, Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has taken a side trip on an international tour to cozy up to Barrick Gold. And once again at a time when Barrick is engaged in questionable practices involving conflict with locals. Harper tried to do this below the radar of the media but alert local journalists were onto this and the event became public, as in July when he visited Barrick's Chilean headquarters. Maissonneuve's Daniel Casey, puts his finger on all this, drawing on reports in Canadian newspapers referring to a
. . . secretive mining-company meeting that is raising eyebrows in Tanzania and now at home. Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a swing through the East African country after the Commonwealth summit in Uganda, announcing $105 million for a health initiative . . . However, after the photo-ops with a wheezing brass band and a roomful of cute schoolchildren, Harper met with officials from Barrick Gold, the Canadian mining firm that is embroiled in a bitter labour dispute at the mammoth Bulyanhulu mine that has long been controversial in human rights circles. Barrick is calling the strike illegal, and vows to replace the one thousand striking workers that make up more than half of the total workforce at the mine. . . . yesterday’s forty-five-minute meeting with Barrick and ten other Canadian resource firms working in the country was not on the Prime Minister’s official itinerary, and apparently Canadian reporters only found out about it from enterprising Tanzanian reporters who made sure, as the Globe reports, that questions about Bulyanhulu “dominated” the afternoon press conference.