Prominent business newsletter writer Marc Faber stood by racist remarks he made this week that led to his dismissal from several corporate boards, justifying them on freedom-of-speech grounds.
On Tuesday, three well-known publicly traded Canadian companies promptly dismissed Mr. Faber, a Thailand-based investor and publisher of a well-read investment newsletter, from their boards, after the publication of his latest Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, which contained the statements: "Thank God white people populated America and not the blacks," and "at least America enjoyed 200 years in the economic and political sun under a white majority."
The remarks went viral, causing widespread outrage, with commentators blasting Mr. Faber for his insensitivity and blatant racism. Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., which was one of the companies that sacked Mr. Faber, said in a release on Tuesday it "deplores" his views about race. U.S. business television networks also distanced themselves from Mr. Faber, with CNBC, Fox and Bloomberg stating he is no longer welcome as a guest.
He isn't likely to pop up any time soon on Canadian business television either.
"Mr. Faber will not be appearing on BNN in the future," said a Bell Media spokesperson in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.
In the face of all of this backlash, Mr. Faber is standing by his remarks. In a series of e-mailed answers to The Globe, Mr. Faber said he did not regret his comments about race, and would not change a word of his missive, citing freedom of speech rights.
"Why should I regret stating historic facts?" he wrote.
When asked if he knew in advance that that the publication of his commentary would result in him being fired from corporate boards, he replied; "If saying what I said leads to these consequences I prefer not to be on these boards."
"I think the corporate world is now run by compliance people. In this context I understand their firing me," he added.
In addition to Ivanhoe, Sprott Inc. and NovaGold also cut ties with Mr. Faber on Tuesday. He also confirmed to The Globe that U.S-based Sunshine Silver Mining Corp. and Vietnam Growth Fund have also let him go.
"One CEO stated that I must have been on some drugs when I wrote my Gloom Boom & Doom report," wrote Mr. Faber, who doesn't recall which CEO make that remark.
"Since I have only taken cocaine three times and marijuana about ten times in seventy years, I did not think these were appropriate comments, " he added.
Richard Leblanc, associate professor of law, governance and ethics at York University, called Mr. Faber's after-the-fact refusal to apologize and the doubling-down on his remarks "very anomalous."
"His reaction is odd," Mr. Leblanc said.
"It actually makes it worse."
Mr. Leblanc says the zeitgeist has changed somewhat since Donald Trump ran an election campaign and subsequently is running a presidency, occasionally based on making derogatory comments, refusing to apologize and then doubling down. Others in the public eye now feel they have "permission" to do likewise, he says, despite corporate boards having no tolerance for such remarks.
Canadian boards in particular are much less forgiving and tolerant than American boards when it comes to off-colour remarks pertaining to race, religion and sexism, Mr. Leblanc says. It's also becoming much more prevalent in North America to do extensive background checks on prospective board members, so as to head off any scandals.
"What you don't want is a situation like this," he says.
"It's an incredible distraction."
As for Mr. Faber, he admits that his comments will cost him economically. The three Canadian board seats alone paid him about $390,000 a year. He is also less likely to be in demand for speaking engagements, and his newsletter, which costs $300 (U.S.) a year per subscriber, may see a decline in popularity, as he will have little or no free exposure any more on business television.
"Economically it will be a huge loss," Mr. Faber said.
"I shall go back to being a waiter."
The Globe's interview with Marc Faber
Marc Faber answered questions in an e-mail exchange with The Globe and Mail.
Do you have any regrets about what you wrote in your latest newsletter?
Why should I regret stating historic facts?
People are interpreting what you wrote as racist, as you are clearly stating the superiority of whites in comparison to blacks.
From the perspective of economic progress and development clearly. Is the world a better place after 200 years of Western economic and political as well as military superiority? No, we whites have been extremely cruel, but I sometime wonder if other ethnic groups would have been any better????
Would you still write what you wrote knowing what has transpired? i.e., big backlash in the public, and being sacked from the 3 boards in Canada.
If saying what I said leads to these consequences I prefer not to be on these boards.
Do you think the actions of the three companies (Ivanhoe, Sprott & Novagold) to ask you to resign was appropriate, or do you think you should be allowed to keep those board seats?
I think the corporate world is now run by compliance people. In this context I understand their firing me. In the meantime another two companies asked me to resign – So 5 in one day.
Do you see any hypocrisy at all from the three companies in asking for your resignation?
Unfortunately, Western societies have become extremely hypocritical. Their so called moral superiority will take them down.
Are these companies as moral and upstanding as they profess to be? Sprott and Ivanhoe clearly state they have certain values that they uphold rigorously. Do you think they actually adhere to these values, or is this lip service designed to protect themselves?
Morals in the corporate world? "When it comes to money, everybody is of the same religion" = Voltaire. I am not God. I am not here to judge other people. One CEO stated that I must have been on some drugs when I wrote my Gloom Boom & Doom report. Since I have only taken Cocaine three times and marijuana about ten times in seventy years, I did not think these were appropriate comments.
Have any of the companies privately told you something different than what has been stated publicly?
Numerous board members have expressed their regrets that I am leaving their board.
Will the financial impact from losing income from those lost board seats impact you in a big way, or does it not really matter?
It will be a huge loss. I shall go back to being a waiter.
Does the public backlash bother you, or are you immune to this?
It bothers me greatly that I had to hear all the time I was at school and at University about enlightenment, freedom of speech and of expression that the media nowadays did not find anything better to do than to label me as racist. To call someone a racist is a form of low blow insult. Insult is the response of the weak to strength of character.
Have you had a significant amount of subscribers cancel their subscriptions to your newsletter as a result of the controversy?
No, I think most people actually agree with me and certainly defend freedom of expression even if it does not coincide with their views.
Does it bother you that the U.S. business channels say you will no longer be welcome as a guest?
It bothers me greatly that the media has become this biased against people with a different view.