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COVER STORY

Fighting for China: Man on a mission

by Judi McLeod

January 27, 2003

The life of Canadian multi-millionaire Maurice Strong is straight out of a James Bond movie, the difference being there is no guarantee the good guys win in real life scenarios starring this pseudo intellect.

The architect of Kyoto and longest reigning international guru of the environmental movement is picking up stakes and starting over again. At age 73, Strong is apartment hunting in Beijing, where he is setting up shop as an ‘environmental consultant.’ Translated to working person’s language, that means Strong will single handedly tackle China’s burgeoning pollution, deforestation, pesticide use and other things environmental by advising business and government on ecological matters.

Maurice Strong is a man on a mission. His mission aims to replace the United States of America with China as a world leader on ecology.

And if this seems like a tall order better left to 007, Strong has so tirelessly attacked U.S. environmental policies--Greenpeace unabashedly touts him as a replacement for George W. Bush.

Last August, John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace U.S., wrote in a piece comparing Bush and Strong, "at the current rate, kids the world over will want to know who stopped Bush, and Strong is on the shortlist to do that right now."

While maintaining offices in Canada and New York, and homes, including a huge compound near Peterborough, Ontario and a 200,000-acre Colorado spread/ cum New Age colony, Strong is expected to spend more than 50 percent of his time on Chinese projects.

Passacantando is not the only true believer of Maurice Strong as a Bush deterrent and the man that China needs most.

"He’s always been at the cutting edge of things, and he feels that China could set an example for the rest of the world," said Earl Drake, a former Canadian ambassador to China who is now a project director at the China Council for International Co-operation on Environment and Development.

"China will soon be the No. 2 economy in the world. That will put huge pressure on the environment."

Nicholas Sonntag, a Canadian who heads up the Beijing office of CH2M Hill--one of the world’s leading environmental companies-- has even more faith in Strong.

"They’re taking a big risk," Sonntag said of China. "They’re determined to be the economic engine of the world. This is why Maurice is here--to help them think things through."

Why an entire country would count on one man "to help them think things through" must rate as one of the contemporary world’s most intriguing mysteries.

What qualifies Strong as the shepherd to ease China through its climb to world leader in ecology status, isn’t his education.

According to his autobiography, Where on Earth Are We Going, Strong dropped out of school at age 14 never to return. In order to get where he is today as a self-appointed world diplomat, he somehow always managed to drop into the right circles at the right time.

One of Strong’s main clients is the Beijing office of CH2M Hill, a Denver-based engineering firm that not only boasts 12,000 employees around he world, but also helped create the Action Plan for a Green Olympics. It was the plan, which played a key role in creating Beijing’s not so long ago successful Olympic bid.

This is how Maurice Strong has positioned himself in China, Chapter Number Two.

Back in 1993 when he was chairman of Ontario Hydro, most folk remember him for trying to buy a Costa Rican rain forest with taxpayers’ money.

But the potential of electric power in China was on his mind even back then.

"This is one of the most rapidly expanding markets in the world," Strong told reporters in a conference telephone call from Beijing without elaborating. "China needs a lot of electric power."

At the time, Ontario Hydro, Hydro-Quebec and Power Corp. had formed a joint venture with $100 million to invest in power plants in China and elsewhere in Asia.

Having already made a career as an advocate of sustainable economic development, Strong did not seem at all deterred by the prospect of Ontario Hydro helping to build polluting, coal-fired power plants.

But that was then, this is now.

Strong being in Beijing "to help them think things through" follows closely on the heels of his visit to North Korea as a special envoy dispatched by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, During that visit Strong contends that the North Korean regime’s number two Kim Ying-Nam opened up to him on matters both nuclear and humanitarian.

A mystic who meditates daily, Strong says the spiritual dimension is the most important part of his life, and that money isn’t important to him.

Perhaps the part about money is true. Strong has supported New Age movements in the U.S. and once helped finance a second ark in preparation for the next great flood.

In climbing up the ladder of wealth, he’s been pretty mainstream in the company he keeps. Prime-Minister-in-waiting Paul Martin is a Maurice Strong protégé. Strong hired Martin when he was president of Power Corp. and launched Martin’s meteoric business career.

Maybe there’s more to the hocus-pocus world of New Age advocate Chairman Mo, than his detractors ever thought.

Canada Free Press founding editor Most recent by Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]


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