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The French connection: Who's Who of Canuck politics

by Judi McLeod

May 12, 2003

The calendar moves ahead, albeit ever so slowly, toward February 2004, when Prime Minister Jean Chretien is destined to ride off into the Canadian sunset.

A date with destiny, to which so many look forward. Chretien detractors in this country and abroad are asking, "Who could be worse?"

Prime-Minister-in-waiting Paul Martin, that’s who.

Although much has been made of their rivalry, both Chretien and Martin are controlled by the same powerbrokers, and that’s just the beginning of this story.

If there is one latter day saga proving the age-old adage that truth is often stranger than fiction, the story of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin is it.

In a country whose largest television network, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is state-owned, and whose largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star is decidedly Liberal-leaning, little reference has been made to this Canadian story of stories.

With the exception of Financial Post columnist Diane Francis, this online publication, and only a smattering of others, the mainline media has paid scarce attention to a documented made-in-Canada story that many average Canadians know nothing about.

Many Canadians know that the Province of Quebec has long monopolized the attention of Chretien, Martin, and too many members of the Liberal clique in Ottawa. They know that anti-Americanism is alive and well in Ottawa, which was staunchly against the war in Iraq.

The big question is why?

Deals with Saddam Hussein and Canadians in oil.

Jean Chretien’s daughter, France, is married to Andre Desmarais. Andre’s father, Paul Desmarais, is the largest shareholder and director of TotalFinaElf--the largest corporation in France, which held tens of billions of dollars in contracts with the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein.

No wonder Chretien and Martin--who hid the war out--were against Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Well, that’s Chretien, but what of the-up-and-coming Paul Martin you might ask?

"…Optimistic Canadians and Americans say Mr. Chretien is gone in a few months and his successor, Paul Martin, will scrap the anti-American, anti-business behaviour and mend the rift between the two countries," wrote Francis in a recent Post column. …"Mr. Martin has ducked every issue except the dreadful Kyoto Accord, which he supported. This puts him squarely in the anti-business and anti-West Liberal camp. This should not surprise. Mr. Martin was hired in the 1960s to work for Paul Desmarais Sr. (the French connection) by Maurice Strong. Mr. Strong is a Liberal backroom operator, tycoon, and part-time United Nations official who authored the Kyoto Accord.

"In 1974, Mr. Desmarais made Mr. Martin president of Canada Steamship Lines and then, in 1981, he made him spectacularly rich by selling the company to him and a partner for $180 million. Mr. Martin’s shipping company is estimated to be worth about $424 million--making him the 63rd richest person in Canada, wrote Francis.

"I find it astonishing that a guy, in politics off and on all his life, could be such a genius at business and make so much money so quickly.

"It all begs a number of troublesome questions. Did Mr. Desmarais give away the company to Mr. Martin? Did Mr. Desmarais lend him the money or guarantee the loan? And what does this mean in terms of his allegiance or loyalty to Mr. Desmarais and his empire in Canada and France?

"Mr. Martin has given his company to his three sons, but that doesn’t matter. He should fully reveal how he became so wealthy. But he won’t and Canada’s sleepy media, except for this newspaper, won’t dog him until he does."

Francis also made reference to what some already suspect: that there is no Liberal leadership but "a sham, designed to give the appearance of democracy in Canada."

Raspberry Xpress puts it more succinctly. "Paul Desmarais is linked to the Privy Council, which influences the Prime Minister, the current Liberal Prime Minister, to Brian Mulroney, a former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister. The probable future Liberal Prime Minister and now a surge of interest to reinstate the former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister as Progressive Conservative leader. So who is controlling the federal government?"

The Liberals granted a direct-to-home satellite license to a company run by Chretien’s son-in-law Andre Desmarais, son of Paul Desmarais.

Then there’s Montreal businessman, John Rae, the leading strategist of Chretien’s election campaigns. Rae was executive vice president of Power Corp, and Paul Desmarais’ right hand man. John is brother of Bob Rae, former socialist premier of Ontario, and the man who appointed Maurice Strong as CEO of Ontario Hydro.

Average Canadians discouraged with the anti-American sentiment coming from Parliament can look further than the Chretien cabinet.

It all started before George W. Bush came to the White House, with Raymond Chretien, Jean’s 59-year-old nephew.

Ambassador to Washington, at the time of the 2000 presidential election, Raymond Chretien was quoted as saying Canada would prefer Al Gore as president, annoying Bush and setting the future strained relations with his administration. Now Canada’s ambassador to France, Raymond Chretien continues to embarrass average Canadians by bad-mouthing Bush. Raymond Chretien is also a well-known toady of President Jacques Chirac.

In February of 2002, Raymond’s daughter Carolyn, Jean’s grand niece, was quietly given a plum government job that pays $94,000 a year, plus perks. Carolyn, who didn’t have to suffer the extensive exam given to everyone else, went to work for the Foreign Affairs Department. Prior to that, she was senior special assistant in the Prime Minister’s office.

Meanwhile, the much-touted rivalry between Jean Chretien and Paul Martin notwithstanding, the two are from the same cabal.

The current Who’s Who of Ottawa politics could be best described as "pick up any rock in Canada, and another snake comes slithering out."

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, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck. Judi can be reached at: [email protected]

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