Shell game

Where does all the money go?

We promised to talk about corruption in the wood industry the latest Commentary. We don’t have a conviction, yet, so we will talk about appearances, and we’ll look at the Wood Manufacturing Council (WMC) in Ottawa.

There are very few pipelines for federal money into our sector. As near as we can figure out, the bulk of the federal money coming into the wood industry from the feds runs through the WMC, from where it is funneled out to associations and uncharted destinations.

How much money, where to, when, what for? We don’t know. We are the preeminent national magazine for the sector, and we can’t find out. Not very awe-inspiring, eh?

Some of you may recall back in 2012 we got some requests from concerned industry leaders, so we asked the WMC for information. Nothing. We contacted then Minister for HRSDC Diane Finley about it, and she replied that the WMC operates autonomously and is not subject to HRSDC intervention.

Autonomously? With taxpayer money?

We sent formal, Federal Access to Information requests, and the letters and filing fees were returned without comment, so we wrote to each of the WMC board members, all with zero response.

We then asked you. We sent out a survey to 2,000 randomly chosen recipients from our readers’ list, of which 187 (9.4 percent) responded. Of the respondents, over 90 percent (!!!) said Wood Industry should investigate. Over 95 percent of you said taxpayer-funded councils should not use their money to support one magazine (Woodworking) over another. We also noted that most of the board was made up of supplier, government and outside interest groups, and we asked whether such a council should have representation from its constituency (you), and 85 percent of you said, “yes.”

Faced with these findings, the WMC said … crickets. The publisher of this magazine was, for years, on the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) at Ontario’s Conestoga College’s Woodworking Centre of Ontario. As such, we received a “report” from the WMC that was VERY unflattering of you regarding your relationships with women. Not only did the report conflict with my own knowledge and experience, but it was provided by a PR company owned by WMC President Richard Lipman’s wife.

I wrote about it. That’s my job, and I was summarily retired from the PAC.

Let me reiterate in your defence, I have been in many, many shops over the years. NEVER have I seen or heard of degradation of women by any owner or manager. Has there been some? I suppose, but I don’t hear that.

That said, I HAVE seen degradation of women by a few salesmen for suppliers to the industry, associates of the WMC and former media entities. They can’t seem to stay out of the peep shows and whorehouses in Hanover. Maybe that’s not degrading, but it fits my definition. I don’t consider it my business what weak men do to satisfy their endocrine demands if it’s legal (if degrading), I just don’t see it among the manufacturers, contrary to published claims by the WMC, paid for by money intended for you.

Anyway, we’re back. Even as we head to print, we have received a letter from our new MP in Caledon, Kyle Seeback. Along with his letter, he provides a copy of a note he has sent to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains. In part, Seeback says:

The little information Mr. Knudsen has found about the WMC is most concerning, which he brought to the attention of the OPP, who referred him to the RCMP. The RCMP then referred him to the Competition Bureau of Canada, which unfortunately did not report back to him, citing confidentiality.

So there you have it. We hope to have something to report by our next issue. Have you received any of these federal dollars in the past 10 years? Our little industry is not doing very well. We need federal help. But first, we need to chase away the buzzards. Meanwhile, we always stand against corruption. The competition always stands for it. If you would like to have input, I have already told anti- manufacturer, cartel-members Blum, Homag, Biesse, Planit, Royce-Ayr and others — you can see who is exclusive with Woodworking — that I will let you know. Or you could let them know. Ask how Peter Mate’s (Planit) position as Treasurer of the WMC helps competitor KCD? In the alternative, you can get a PDF of this department on our website, send it to your personal sales reps and ask them to explain. You can cc: me if you like, to make certain your letter doesn’t get lost.