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Canada's global connections

by Judi McLeod, Canadafreepress.com

December 15, 2004

When it comes to global influence, Canada’s Montreal-based Power Corporation is an octopus with tentacles everywhere.

Both Prime Minister Paul Martin and his mentor Maurice Strong, senior advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, worked for Power Corp.

Martin’s immediate predecessor is former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, whose daughter, France is married to Andre Desmarais, son of Power Corp’s founding father, Paul Desmarais.

Desmarais Sr. is a major shareholder and director of TotalFinaElf, the biggest oil corporation in France, which has held tens of billions of dollars in contracts with the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein.

As Canada Free Press (CFP) revealed last week, Paul Volcker, who heads up the Independent Inquiry Commission into the oil-for-food scandal, held a seat on Power Corp’s international advisory board.

Those are some of the ties of Power Corp., oil-for-food and Fracophonie’s Land of the fleur de lis.

Power Corp. now maintains controlling interest in BertelsmannAG, Germany’s large publishing empire--bigger even than Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

In February 2001, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, one of Belgium’s top 10 companies and 25 percent owned by Power Corp., acquired control of BertelsmannAG. Andre Desmarais, President and Chief Executive Officer of Power Corp., was named to the BAG board.

As it turns out, the publishing company controlled by Canada’s powerful Desmarais family has a less than honourary history. Indeed, during the days of the Third Reich, BertelsmannAG was the biggest publisher of Nazi texts, with production more prolific than the National Socialist Party’s own printing business. The Nazi chapter of BertelsmannAG began in 1933, but was only documented and disclosed by a historian Saul Friedlander in 1999.

Bertelsmann published the nefarious, The Christmas Book for Hitler Youth.

The publishing empire which employs some 80,000 workers in 51 countries, posted an overall cash flow of $18.3-billion in 2002.

Originally run by the Heinrich Mohn family, the company donated money to the SS and to various ecology Save-the-Earth factions of the Nazi movement.

Continuing to join the dots on Volcker and potential conflicts of interest is Volcker’s number two man on the IIC, Reid Morden. Morden has connections to Desmarais in his role of selling nuclear plants to China and others for companies dominated by Desmarais.

Although he is Canada’s former intelligence chief, Morden does not answer to the Canadian government.

As CFP letter writer Peter Herberg puts it, "Can you imagine the uproar if a former CIA chief did this and took part in a UN investigation that refused to cooperate with congress?"

From all reports, Prime Minister Paul Martin has no problems with Morden’s arm’s length relationship with the Canadian government. But then again Martin’s senior adviser is Annan pointman, Maurice Strong.

When you add it all up, contemporary Canadian influence abroad has all the intrigue of a fast-moving spy novel.

Andre Desmarais also sits on the China International Trust & Investment Corp (CITIC), described as the alleged investment arm of the PLA, the Chinese military.

Through its subsidiaries, the CITIC could be the largest manufacturer of weapons and arms in the world.

Maurice Strong, special ambassador to the UN, has publicly stated publicly his belief that China is the economic and ecological future of the world, a sentiment echoed only last week by Prime Minister Martin.

Iraq is awash in arms bought by Saddam through the oil-for-food scam and many of them originate from China, including the fiber optic air defense network installed by China.

China also sold arms to the Taliban and had a number of deals with them even post 9/11.

Li Ka-Shing, the owner of the Hong Kong-based Huthinson-Whampoa that now runs the Panama Canal Ports, is currently buying Husky Oil of Canada and plans on buying Canadian mining giant Noranda.

The Asian tycoon’s eldest son, Victor Li, a Canadian citizen, recently offered $48-million for a 28 percent stake in bankrupted Air Canada.

Li, incidentally owns Gordon Securities where Chretien used to work.

Operation Sidewinder, an American-Canadian operation set up to root out Chinese agents in Canada was shut down by former New Democratic Party Ontario Premier Bob Rae. Rae’s brother John was the campaign manager for Chretien and is a senior executive at Power Corp.

Paul Martin plans a China delegation early in 2005.

Chretien’s first trip after leaving office was to lead a delegation to China on trade deals. His next trip was to Iran on behalf of an oil company.
Last week Chretien was in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he made a speech criticizing the Russian government’s handling of Yukos Oil.

"It is no secret--my country, Canada has turned its proximity, next door to a giant, the United States, into a key economic growth. You are positioned between two giants--Russia and China," he told the Kazakhstan audience.

"I know through history that has not always been the most comfortable location. But these are giants that will continue to play a huge and important role on the world stage.

"In the case of China, we are looking at a nation whose economic and social growth will be THE big story of this century.

"Even in Canada, where we share a long, peaceful border with the United States, we have always had to consciously work to maintain our sovereignty and independence.

"As one of my great predecessors, Pierre Trudeau, once put it, we are a little bit like the mouse sleeping next to an elephant.

No mater (sic) how peaceful or good natured is the elephant, we feel ever single twitch and movement…And God help us if he should ever roll over in his sleep!"

Meanwhile, it’s not rolling over in his sleep that Canada should worry about, it’s perhaps if ever the sleeping giant should awaken.