an edited version of this piece appeared in Now Magazine.
Amanda Lang has been under fire lately for conflicts of interest regarding her reporting on the CBC. Specifically, Lang took money from two insurance companies while giving those companies favorable coverage. More recently, Lang was exposed by online news source CANADALAND for her aggressive lobbying against CBC’s Kathy Tomlinson’s reporting putting RBC in a bad light. When her attempts to bury the story were unsuccessful, she welcomed RBC CEO Gord Nixon on The National for a softball interview, where he dismissed Tomlinson’s reporting as trivial.
Not only did Lang accept money for speaking at RBC-sponsored events at least 6 times (for fees of up to $15,000 an event), but recent revelations reveal that she has been in a relationship with RBC Board Member W. Geoffrey Beattie since at least January 2013.
This isn’t the first time that Lang has gone out to bat for a corporate affiliate of a romantic partner. In a 2011 interview, Lang praised Barrick Gold after her guest, Jon Allan of Occupy Canada, accused the company of killing 19 Tanzanian villagers. Lang’s husband was Vince Borg, former Executive VP of Corporate Communications at Barrick Gold. When he left Barrick only a year earlier, Barrick’s press statement revealed that he would “continue to provide strategic communications counsel” and that he would “also be working with Founder and Chairman Peter Munk, in his other business and philanthropic endeavors.”
“Now you’re getting into a company that I know pretty well,” Lang stated as she interrupted Allan’s accusations. “My husband worked for Barrick Gold for years, so I don’t want to talk about that. Although, there are those who would say that Peter Munk has done amazing things for Tanzanians among others, creating great wealth where there was none.”
Creating great wealth where there was none? That’s big praise for a company whose mines in Tanzania displaced 40,000 small scale miners at their North Mara mine, and 200,000 at their Bulyanhulu mine. These small scale miners are now so desperately poor, that they dig though Barrick’s waste dumps for rocks with trace amounts of gold, often risking being shot at or beaten by mine security.
Often, these miners pay corrupt police to allow them to dig through newly blasted ore from Barrick’s North Mara mine. When a disagreement erupts over compensation, people often get killed. Jon Allan was likely referring to a Globe and Mail report citing a Legal and Human Rights Centre of Tanzania report concluding that 19 villagers were killed by police and security guards at North Mara from January, 2009, to June, 2010. A recent Vice Magazine investigation put the number much higher at 69 over 3 years, citing Wilson Mangure, a local ward councillor who has been tracking the incidents.
An incident where six people were killed at the North Mara mine is the centre of a lawsuit in the UK High Court by London law firm, Leigh Day.
“Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. We are aware of many other instances in which local people have reportedly been seriously injured or killed at ABG’s mine,” said Leigh Day partner, Richard Meeran in their statement announcing the lawsuit.
Despite the fact that these killings are regular and well-documented, CBC has done scant coverage of the reality next to these mines, and the lawsuit has not received one mention. A search of cbc.ca on google for articles about Barrick’s Tanzanian operations reveals 17 stories, only two of which even mention these regular killings. In their reporting of the killings at the centre of the Leigh Day lawsuit, the headline reads “Africa Barrick gold mine attacked” only latter to reveal that “seven intruders* were killed and a dozen more were injured Monday at its North Mara mine in Tanzania.”
These “intruders” once worked that land, and now risk their lives picking rocks in Barrick’s waste dumps. Rather than creating great wealth where there was none, it appears that Barrick has stolen great wealth and militarized entire communities to maintain it. But you would never guess that reading the CBC’s reporting.
*this number was later modified to 6