It’s High Time the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund Divests from the Union-Busting Firm Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc. – Enver Villamizar
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) has now changed its representation on Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc.’s eight-person management board since concerns were raised by its shareholders — Ontario teachers — about its investments in the union-busting company.  Michelle Lung has now replaced Ashfaq Qadri who was a member of OTPP’s equities team. Lung is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Certified Business Valuator (CBV) in Ontario. She is the Director of the Private Capital Global Funds team and has been with the OTPP since 2014. According to her biography on Stone Canyon’s website, “she has been involved in the origination, evaluation, execution and post-investment monitoring and management of numerous fund investments. Previously, she worked as a Senior Associate at PwC in both their Consulting & Deals and Audit groups.” Lung graduated from the University of Toronto.
CPAs in Ontario are bound by the CPA Code of Conduct which requires members and firms to act in the public interest. The code states that the “public’s trust and reliance on sound and fair financial and management reporting and competent advice on business affairs — and the economic importance of that reporting and advice — impose these special obligations on the profession.” As such, its members are expected to “avoid any action that would discredit the profession.” According to the code, “Members and firms are expected to be straightforward, honest and fair dealing in all professional relationships.”
The Code of Conduct contains guidelines to determine ethical or unethical conduct. Whatever juridical standards exist to determine ethical misconduct, from the point of view of a majority of Ontario teachers, union-busting definitely constitutes ethical misconduct.
Officially, in a case where a member faces an “ethical conflict,” the member is obliged to consider the following:
- relevant facts
- ethical issues involved
- fundamental principles and provisions of the CPA Code applicable to the matter in question
- established internal procedures
- alternative courses of action
Leadership of Stone Canyon
Many of Stone Canyon’s key senior leadership, including its Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, its President, and both its Senior Vice Presidents were formerly employed by a company called Knowledge Universe (KU) which was founded in 1996 and owned by Michael Milken after he was released from prison and no longer permitted to carry out securities trading.
Milken is the notorious U.S. financier who was convicted and sentenced to prison time in 1990 for violating securities laws and was stripped of his ability to engage in the securities industry. “He is known for his role in the development of the market for high-yield bonds (“junk bonds”), and his conviction and sentence following a guilty plea on felony charges for violating U.S. securities laws,” Wikipedia informs. It adds that “Milken was indicted for racketeering and securities fraud in 1989 in an insider trading investigation. In a plea bargain, he pleaded guilty to securities and reporting violations but not to racketeering or insider trading. Milken was sentenced to ten years in prison, fined $600 million (although his personal website claims $200 million) and permanently barred from the securities industry by the Securities and Exchange Commission. His sentence was later reduced to two years for cooperating with testimony against his former colleagues and for good behavior. Milken was pardoned for his crimes by President Donald Trump on February 18, 2020.”
The sentencing judge for Milken’s crimes stated at the time, “When a man of your power in the financial world, at the head of the most important department of one of the most important investment banking houses in this country, repeatedly conspires to violate, and violates, securities and tax laws in order to achieve more power and wealth for himself and his wealthy clients, and commits financial crimes that are particularly hard to detect, a significant prison term is required.”
In response to his sentence, Milken reportedly stated: “What I did violated not just the law but all of my principles and values. I deeply regret it, and will for the rest of my life. I am truly sorry.”
Speaking about the specifics of the case, the New York Times said the judge indicated she believed that the former financier had tried to prevent investigators from uncovering his crimes by suggesting to subordinates that they dispose of important documents. She also said she believed that Mr. Milken had misled a client. She is quoted as saying to Milken at sentencing, “Your crimes show a pattern of skirting the law, stepping just over to the wrong side of the law in an apparent effort to get some of the benefits of violating the law without running a substantial risk of being caught.”
Milken’s compensation while head of the high-yield bond department at Drexel Burnham Lambert in the late 1980s exceeded $1 billion over a four-year period, a record for U.S. income at that time.” With a net worth of US$6 billion as of 2022, he is among the world’s very rich people.
KU, the company Milken founded and many of Stone Canyon’s senior leadership worked for, held a large number of subsidiaries related to private in person and online education, including KinderCare Learning Centers, the largest for-profit child care provider in the United States. KU sold off its subsidiaries in 2015 just after Stone Canyon was established in 2014. Forbes reported in 2017 that Stone Canyon is headquartered at the same Santa Monica address as the Milken Institute. Stone Canyon Industries was registered with the California Secretary of State in 2014 by Stanley Maron, Milken’s longtime lawyer. A spokesperson for Milken who spoke to Forbes in 2017 admitted that Milken was an investor in Stone Canyon but downplayed his influence stating, “Scores of firms invest Mike’s money and he is not involved in their investment decisions, does not control them and doesn’t sit on their boards.”
In addition to its obvious links with a notorious proponent of private education and convicted criminal, albeit now pardoned by Trump, Stone Canyon has definite direct links with the U.S. state. This makes it likely that Stone Canyon’s control of salt, which is a strategic Canadian natural resource, is overseen by officials of a foreign government with an interest in enforcing anti-worker, anti-social activities.
Listed on its Leadership page as its only Senior Advisor is Mark Weinberger, former global chairman of Ernst and Young, today EY. Weinberger is the former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Tax Policy) in the George W. Bush Administration. He was subsequently appointed by President Clinton to serve on the Social Security Administration Advisory Board. He then served as a member of President Obama’s Infrastructure Task Force and was on President Trump’s former Strategic and Policy Forum made up of 15 CEOs tasked with helping Trump establish an agenda that benefits the rich. He also worked in the U.S. Senate as a member of its International Business Council and was a Global Agenda Steward for Economic Progress of the World Economic Forum. He co-chaired the Russia Foreign Investment Advisory Council (FIAC) with then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and served as Chairman of the International Business Leaders Advisory Council (IBLAC) to the Mayor of Shanghai. He has also been a speaker at the Milken Institute.
Weinberger was also on the Board of Directors of Johnson & Johnson and MetLife. He currently serves as a Senior Advisor to Teneo which is one of the world’s biggest public relations firms which hires politicians to provide “strategic counsel to CEOs and executives of the world’s top companies,” as well as a Strategic Advisor to the Board of FCLTGlobal, which focuses on “long-term investing and corporate governance.” Weinberger is on the CEO Advisory Council of JUST Capital which calls itself “an independent nonprofit dedicated to building an economy that works for all Americans by measuring and improving corporate stakeholder performance… ” It says it ranks companies “on issues that Americans care about most…” He sits on the Board of Directors of the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), is a Senior Advisor to Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) and is a member of the Aspen Economic Strategy Group.
CECP says it is “a trusted advisor to companies on their corporate purpose journeys to build long-term sustainable value …” It “shares actionable insights with its CEO-led coalition to address stakeholder needs.” 
On its Advisory Board is former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Henry A. Crumpton, whose bio states is “a 24-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service, he operated in the foreign field, including tours as Chief of Station, for most of his career.” Interestingly his bio lists him as still being an Ambassador-at-Large to this day. In 2001 after the 9/11 attacks he was responsible for day-to-day running of the criminal U.S. led-war in Afghanistan for its first year, according to Wikipedia.  That war, which Canada was also part of, destroyed the country and continues to this day. From 2003-2005 he was the Chief of the CIA’s National Resource Division, responsible for all Clandestine Service operations in the United States [emphasis added] at a time the U.S. was openly torturing prisoners on its military bases. In 2005 at the height of the “War on Terror” launched by U.S. President George W. Bush – more aptly called the “War of Terror” – Bush appointed Crumpton the U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State with the rank of Ambassador-at-large. Besides other things, this gave him diplomatic immunity.
All in all, given Stone Canyon’s union-busting activities at Windsor Salt and its ties to the worst elements of the U.S. government and establishment, it would not be a stretch to conclude that it is high time the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund divest from Stone Canyon Holdings Inc. and find something pro-social, not anti-social, to do with the teachers’ pension money.
1. For background on concerns from teachers about their pension plan’s investments in SCIH see: Teachers Pension Plan Major Investor in US Company Attacking Windsor Salt Workers, Union-busting in Canada by U.S. Law Firm Jackson Lewis, Teachers Raise Concerns About Having a Say Where Pension Funds Are Invested,
2. The full copy of the code can be found here.
3. “Michael Milken,” Wikipedia.
4. According to Wikipedia, Teneo is a privately owned public relations and advisory company founded in June 2011 by Declan Kelly, Paul Keary, and Doug Band Headquartered in NYC, it currently has more than 1,450 employees located in 40 offices. In 2019, Teneo sold a majority stake to CVC Capital Partners, at a total valuation of around $700 million. Its subsidiaries include Teneo Strategy Consulting LLC, and WestExec Advisors. Its website confirms that:
“Teneo’s government and public affairs offering provides strategic counsel and tactical execution to the leaders of large and complex businesses on navigating volatile political landscapes. Our team of senior specialists have deep expertise in the top policy priorities of Quebec, Ontario, and the federal government.
“Our team of government and public affairs advisors provide political intelligence derived from our experts’ deep understanding of political dynamics and unrivaled networks, developed over decades in every major market provides strategic counsel to CEOs and executives of the world’s top companies.”
One of their government and political affairs senior advisors “navigating geopolitical volatility” is Canada former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
5. “Founded in 1999 by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman and other business leaders, CECP is a movement of more than 200 of the world’s largest companies that represent $7.7 trillion in revenues, $37.4 billion in total community investment, 14 million employees, 22.5 million hours of employee engagement, and $21 trillion in assets under management. CECP helps companies transform their strategy by providing benchmarking and analysis, convenings, and strategy and communications in the areas of societal/community investment, employee engagement, environmental social governance/sustainable business, diversity equity inclusion, and telling the story.” (CECP website)
6. “Henry A. Crumpton“, Wikipedia