The namesake of U of T’s Munk Centre for International Studies has been named to the top level of Canada’s highest civilian honour. On Dec. 30, the Governor General named Canadian businessman Peter Munk among 60 new appointees to the Order of Canada. His fellows among this year’s additions to Companion of the Order are Céline Dion and Ben Heppner for their contribution to Canadian music, and Stephen Jarislowsky for leadership within the business community. This is a promotion for Munk from the award of Officer of the Order, which he received in 1993. The announcement at the end of December cited Munk’s “contributions as an entrepreneur and a philanthropist, helping to establish world-class health care and education institutions in Canada and abroad.”
Among Munk’s business ventures is Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold-mining corporation, of which he is founder and chairman. Barrick has drawn fire from human rights and environmental groups at home and abroad for environmental degradation caused by its mines, and forced evictions of indigenous communities. Industry watchdogs draw links between the company and the murder of anti-mine critics by paramilitary death squads in Colombia and Peru. In 2006 the company made headlines with its plan to move glaciers within the UNESCO-protected San Guillermo World Biosphere Reserve for its Pasqua Lama mine on the Argentina-Chile border. The company has since been granted permission to mine in the area on condition it not disturb the glaciers.
The new appointees to the Order of Canada will receive their insignia at a ceremony later this year.