How Bill and Hillary raised and earned millions from Canada’s corporate elite
The Globe and Mail Last updated:
It was the plane ride that launched a thousand good deeds, and one lingering controversy.
One day in June, 2005, Bill Clinton clambered aboard the private jet of Frank Giustra, the Vancouver mining financier. Mr. Clinton needed to get to Mexico City to begin a speaking tour of Latin America and oversee the work of his sprawling charitable enterprise. The two men didn’t know each other well. But Mr. Giustra happened to have a luxury MD-87 aircraft to get him there. And he was curious about the former U.S. president and his philanthropic work.
The trip and the conversation marked the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship. Soon after, Mr. Giustra became one of the largest single donors to the Clinton Foundation and rallied an entire industry to raise millions of dollars for its fight against global poverty. He, in turn, gained entréeto Mr. Clinton’s inner circle – and became Corporate Canada’s most famous “Friend of Bill.”
For more than a decade, both men have burnished their reputations by travelling the globe and collaborating on big ideas in far-flung places. Mr. Giustra’s Twitter profile is a veritable photo gallery of the two men. Here they are in Peru last November, distributing household goods to women. There they are in El Salvador earlier that same year, assisting small-scale farmers. The Canadian arm of the Clinton Foundation – the brainchild of Mr. Giustra and known as the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership – has poured more than $35-million (U.S.) into eradicating poverty in parts of the developing world where many of the mining companies he helped finance do business.