Sunday 27 May 2018

In Aguascalientes, Mexico's presidential contest is not a "change election"

La politica es la politica has posted 32 articles - one for each state in Mexico, including Mexico City - in advance of the July 1, 2018, presidential election. For links to all 32 articles, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Given that the total population of Mexico is around 130 million, and that the Mexican president is elected based on the total national vote count (i.e. no anachronistic electoral college, as in the US), it could be argued that the vote in Aguascalientes is of little relevance. But this is “Mexico 32”: every state is getting covered! 

History has shown that even national elections can be nail biters, and shifts in voter preference in a small state like Aguascalientes remain important considerations. The state is divided into 11 municipalities, with the capital city also called Aguascalientes. Located in North-Central Mexico, Aguascalientes is bordered by Jalisco to the south and Zacatecas to the north. The population of the entire state is small, about 1.5 million, with the capital city having about 900,000 souls.

At the presidential level, Aguascalientes has historically divided its loyalties between the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the right-of-center National Action Party (PAN). The traditional left-leaning party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), represented about 21% of the popular vote in the last two elections (2006, 2012).

Friday 18 May 2018

Lady Luck Keeps Shining on Ottawa’s Sakto Corporation

The Ottawa-headquartered real estate firm Sakto Corporation has for years faced accusations that it owes its success to money originating from the alleged Malaysian kleptocrat Abdul Taib Mahmud. Sean Murray, the president and CEO of Sakto, is married to Jamilah Taib, the eldest of Abdul Taib Mahmud’s four children, raising suspicions that Mr. Murray owes his success to the Taib family’s ill-gotten fortune.
Sean Murray and Jamilah Taib

Most recently, Sakto Corporation can notch two notable successes in its ongoing campaign to maintain its reputation as a legitimate enterprise.

First,  the Ontario Superior Court of Justice threw out a case brought by the Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fonds' Association for the Peoples of the Rainforest, and Mutang Urud, demanding that Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Manulife Financial Corporation, and Deloitte and Touche reveal information on their financial dealings with Sakto. The team defending Sakto Corporation is so pleased with its legal acumen it's even set up a website, The Facts Matter.

Second, Canada’s National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD has rejected a complaint from Bruno Manser Fonds against Sakto. Though the complaint was denied, the behaviour of the NCP was inconsistent, suggesting to some that the NCP was succumbing to pressure in Ottawa.