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Mark Bonham calls himself a financial ‘punk.’ Why he went from raising hell to raising money for LGBTQ causes

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Mark Bonham is sitting in a restaurant at U of T’s Hart House as waiters set tables for the lunch crowd, with the discordant clinking of silverware and jazz playing in the background.

A flat November light brightens the room with its dark wood tables and fireplace. An arched stone door is nearby, like one that might lead to an inner sanctum of some ancient church.

Mark Bonham is pictured at University of Toronto. Bonham, who was honoured for his philanthropy last month by fundrasising professionals, has endowed the groundbreaking Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at U of T, helped expand Casey House, and helped kids in Ontario’s North.
Mark Bonham is pictured at University of Toronto. Bonham, who was honoured for his philanthropy last month by fundrasising professionals, has endowed the groundbreaking Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at U of T, helped expand Casey House, and helped kids in Ontario’s North.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star)

This is where Bonham found a type of benevolence, although not the religious kind.

The alumnus gave the university $200,000 nearly 20 years ago to establish an endowment for a course on LGBTQ issues — one of his first philanthropic gestures.

Eventually, that turned into the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies after he donated another $1 million. The centre is the largest sexual diversity degree-granting centre in the world, with 350 undergraduate students and 25 master’s and PhD students, and the endowment is up to $8 million.

That, along with other efforts to raise money, recently won Bonham recognition as an outstanding philanthropist from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Those efforts include millions for Casey House hospital and a Toronto LGBTQ youth shelter opening in 2019.

“It’s so nice to see Mark get that recognition. He’s so lovely,” says Lisa McDonald, Casey House’s communications officer. “His was a transformational gift.”

Nearly two decades ago, Bonham gave the hospital $2.5 million, seed money for an expansion.

“We’re not used to these multimillion-dollar gifts,” says McDonald. “It was very visionary of him to think we would end up where we are. He was a believer and a supporter.”

Philanthropy is Bonham’s second career, which followed his first, in the business world.

Years ago, a senior business rival told him he was climbing a hill of sand on his hands and knees. But he kept climbing. He founded two mutual fund companies, only to be forced out of both, the second with a slap on the wrist.

Afterward, he redirected his business acumen and long-term planning skills.

“I thought, I’m not going to start a third mutual fund company,” he says. “I’m going to focus on giving back.”


Photos of Mark S. Bonham selling 50/50 tickets in Northern Ontario to raise money for charity.
Photos of Mark S. Bonham selling 50/50 tickets in Northern Ontario to raise money for charity.

To say that Mark Bonham is a self-starter is a gross understatement.

The 59-year-old has been self-reliant since age 12, when he went to live with a foster family in Elliot Lake in northern Ontario after his parents divorced and he didn’t get along with his mother’s new partner.

“I think it was kind of mutual that I would live in a foster home as opposed to with them,” says Bonham, who spent his early years in Guelph. His mother died a couple of years ago; he never saw her after he left home and he has little contact with his four brothers and two sisters.

That move was in 1971, when the mining town was descending from a peak as the uranium capital of the world. Only two companies still operated there and nearly three-quarters of residents had moved away.

His foster parents, he says, “were nice, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t consider them my replacement family. I was never that close to them.” But his childhood wasn’t miserable.

“I became very independent and somewhat self-supporting,” says Bonham. “I never got into drugs or anything.”

He was the youngest kid in his high school class — he’d skipped grades four and five — but he thrived by joining groups like the yearbook committee, where he was editor.

“I didn’t really have a social life, it was more the typical things you think of that a smart kid would do,” he says.

He was entrepreneurial even then, launching “Circarnifair,” a turducken-like name that the 14-year-old made up by combining circus, carnival and fair. The event raised $20, partly through a haunted forest trail with a 10-cent admission. He gave the money to the Salvation Army.

Bonham started his own paper, interviewing kids for stories about the neighbourhood. He handwrote them on two pages, double-sided, and delivered the editions.

“I didn’t know I was an entrepreneur at the time, but I always wanted to be in business,” says Bonham. “I loved to read annual reports, and see who was on the board of directors. I knew I wanted to have influence.

“Probably I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I wanted to be a president of a company.”

He finished Grade 13 with the highest marks in seven subjects, including music and math. But he faced another hurdle.

His guidance counsellor and his parents wanted him to study chemistry at U of T’s Scarborough campus. They didn’t think he could handle the main campus in the big city.

Bonham was determined to study economics and business at the school. He told them he would take a year off and work to pay for his studies. His foster parents were upset and kicked him out of the house.

For a year, he worked at a hardware chain. Bonham became warehouse manager and saved enough for university.

He got in to U of T and lived in residence, downtown.


Mark Bonham's donation helped buy a run-down Victorian house, which was renovated and expanded so that Casey House hospital is now 53,000 square feet. The new building officially opened last year.
Mark Bonham’s donation helped buy a run-down Victorian house, which was renovated and expanded so that Casey House hospital is now 53,000 square feet. The new building officially opened last year.  (DOUBLESPACE PHOTOGRAPHY)

Bonham was doing his master’s at the London School of Economics when he decided to come back to Toronto and start a mutual fund.

He’d earned a commerce degree at U of T working part-time and in the summer at Canada Life, where he learned how to buy and sell stocks in mutual funds and do the accounting.

He worked there another two and a half years before heading to London. During his research there, he realized the Canadian mutual fund market was underdeveloped. A federal research paper discussed plans to deregulate the financial industry and allow cross-ownership, i.e. letting banks buy investment firms.

“I thought if the banks get into mutual funds, with their national distribution, the industry is really going to take off,” says Bonham. “So I decided to come back to Canada and start a mutual fund.”

In 1986, he co-founded BPI — Bonham Property Investments — with James McGovern, a student he met at U of T. The seed money came from friends who invested $5,000 each.

Bonham’s early dreams were finally coming true. BPI was able to purchase other mutual fund companies after he persuaded banks to loan them money, using the fund’s redemption fees as collatoral. Those fees are paid when an individual redeems investments.

Today, the practice is known as securitization, says Bonham, but back then it had never been used.

Bonham used that model to buy 14 more mutual funds. In 10 years, BPI had assets of $4-billion.

In 1995, BPI’s board forced Bonham out, making McGovern CEO.

A Globe and Mail story a few years later said some co-workers and financial advisers complained he was aloof and difficult to work with.

Six months after he was forced out, Bonham founded Strategic Value Corp., with an English merchant bank as a partner, and took the company public. Bonham began buying other mutual funds as a growth strategy. But in 2002, Bonham was forced to sell Strategic after a South African investment bank bought his partner’s share and insisted he either buy them out or put his quarter stake in the company up for sale.

“I didn’t have that kind of money,” says Bonham.

He was also sued for wrongful dismissal by a handful of the company’s executives, two of whom alleged they were let go after the company read their emails, according to the Globe story.

A few months after he sold Strategic Value, the Ontario Securities Commission ruled he couldn’t be a company director or officer for three years because Bonham had manually priced certain shares in three funds for a period in 1997-98 without “written policies or procedures in place regarding the valuation of securities.”

Bonham says they were preferred shares that rarely traded and without a market value, someone had to “put a value on those shares.” Both the OSC and Bonham say he never profited personally from the valuations.

“It was very traumatic,” says Bonham. “I did have a reputation built of being sort of the young punk in the industry.”


Mark Bonham selling 50/50 tickets in northern Ontario to raise money for charity.
Mark Bonham selling 50/50 tickets in northern Ontario to raise money for charity.  (Supplied)

The tables at the Hart House restaurant at U of T are nearly all set, ready for the lunch crowd to arrive.

Bonham first gave the school money around the same time he came out as gay. He began getting involved in the LGBTQ community and realized he could have an impact on social issues.

“I really believe that education is a core component to developing a society,” says Bonham. “And the opportunities, and sticking in school, learning, figuring out what you want to do with your life through that process,” he says. “It all came out of my background out of Elliot Lake.”

Bonham says when he first started in finance, gay men weren’t welcome. “It’s only been recently, the last 15 years, that that has changed,” he says. “To the industry’s credit, specifically in investment management, there has had a complete reversal.”

He tells of when he launched BPI and met a brokerage firm to ask if his could get on an approved list, meaning the brokerage would sell BPI’s mutual funds to its customers.

The guy took him into a stockroom, sat him down and told him all the boxes surrounding them were prospectuses for mutual funds that a group of top brokerages were about to launch. “We’re going to put young punks like you out of business,” he told Bonham. “So you think you’re going to get on our approved list, think again.”

Bonham never got on the list, but two years later, when the mutual fund group was up for sale, he bought it.

“That’s the nature of the industry,” he says. “It’s competitive. It’s masculine.”

But by the time he’d reached his mid-30s, he wanted a partner and a family.

When he came out, it “was very challenging personally, but also for my friends,” says Bonham. “I lost a lot of friends when I came out as gay.”

A few years later, he gave Casey House $2.5 million, partly to buy a run-down Victorian house across the street on the corner of Jarvis and Isabella, which was renovated and expanded so that the hospital is now 53,000 square feet. The new building officially opened last year. Bonham was also an instrumental member of the team that raised the rest of the money.

He created the Mark S. Bonham Charitable Foundation in 2002, and gave money to the Inside Out LGBTQ film festival to endow a scholarship for a filmmaker. He endowed the centre for sexual diversity studies.

More recently, he co-chaired a fundraising campaign for Egale Centre, a homeless shelter for LGBTQI2S youth, at Dundas and Sherbourne Sts. With Ed Clark, former head of TD Bank, and Martha McCain, who is on the board of the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation, he raised $16 million in six months for the 35-bed facility. The centre will house youth for up to a year and provide crisis counselling to help them return to school or find jobs.

Toronto Mayor John Tory and then premier Kathleen Wynne were among the dignitaries who helped Bonham officially open the Casey House expansion.
Toronto Mayor John Tory and then premier Kathleen Wynne were among the dignitaries who helped Bonham officially open the Casey House expansion.  (Supplied)

Lisa McDonald of Casey House says Bonham is helping fundraise to build a rooftop terrace and healing garden for patients, and they’re nearing their goal of $500,000.

He’s also written numerous books, including one on LGBTQ leaders, and founded the website QueerBio.com

This summer, he went up to communities in northern Ontario and sold 50/50 tickets for We Are the Villagers, which funds extracurricular activities such as hockey or music for underprivileged kids “I would say at any one time I’m involved in 12 to 15 projects like this,” says Bonham, who is single. “Maybe I’m a little too involved.”

He stays active in the investment management business, helping friends and acquaintances with wealth management. He sees business and philanthropy as parallels.

“It’s powerful. It’s impactful,” says Bonham of fundraising. “It’s like a business to me, that you can take your dreams and actually make positive change and impact people’s lives.

“I love seeing the outcome.”

Patty Winsa is a Toronto-based data reporter. Reach her via email: pwinsa@thestar.ca



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These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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