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On the way to parliament: Uncle Mo in activist mode

by Judi McLeod

September 1, 2003

Before even stepping foot into Canadian Prime-Minister-in-Waiting Paul Martin’s office as his senior advisor, Maurice Strong is in political activist mode.

Although both parties strongly deny it, Strong is expected to hang his hat in the PMO come November. As he prepares to descend on Parliament Hill, the usually laconic Strong is out there saying that Ontario’s power infrastructure has been neglected.

"We’re paying the price for eight years of neglect, of dithering, of uncertainty and mixed signals," the former chairman of Ontario Hydro told CanWest Global.

It was certainly uncertainty and mixed signals for taxpayers when Strong was Ontario Hydro chairman in 1994. It was in that year that he opened talks on the purchase of 12,500 hectares (30,875 acres) of a Costa Rican forest in a deal the (Opposition) Progressive Conservatives branded as "wacky" in the face of the utility’s then $34 billion debt.

"How is this going to help the ratepayers in Ontario?" Chris Stockwell, Conservative energy critic of the day, demanded to know.

"In my wildest dreams, I can’t fathom how the hell this could be used," he later told reporters. Citing federal sources, Stockwell said that the tract of land sought by Strong was worth between $10 million and $12 million.

At the time of the Strong Costa Rican forest purchase, Hydro had cut about 10,000 jobs.

The Hydro chairman held private ownership of Costa Rican land not connected to the 30,875 acres.

The purchase was made on the basis that saving a large section of forest would help offset the emission of greenhouse gases by oil or coal-burning generating stations.

It shouldn’t have surprised anybody, when years later, Strong became the architect of the multi-billion dollar Kyoto Protocol.

Hired by Ontario Hydro in 1992, the 65-year-old Strong was given free rein by Bob Rae, the Premier of Ontario’s first (and arguably last) Socialist government.

Dubbed "Uncle Mo" by the Premier, Strong was often a dinner guest at the diplomatic home of Saul Rae, the premier’s father.

History will prove that "Uncle Mo" gets around.

To the present day, Strong can count among his detractors, members of the Kekoldi Indians in Costa Rica.

One of Strong’s companies, Desarrollos Ecologicos (Ecological Development) built a $35 million, 12-suite beach resort at Villas del Caribe on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It seems that Strong did not have a clear title to the land at the time of construction.

The luxury hotel, run by his son, was built within the Gandoca-Manzillo Wildlife Refuge, where development is restricted, and the Kekoldi Indian Reserve, where the Indian Association must approve construction. It was not.

"He (Strong) is supporting Indians and conservation around the world and here he’s doing the complete opposite," lamented Demetrio Myorga, President of the Kekoldi Indian Association.

New Strong enemies in Costa Rica came on July 31, and include the staff and supporters of Radio Peace International (RPI), a short-wave radio that carried largely United Nations programming.

After decades of operation, Strong kicked the radio station off the University of Peace Campus.

Staff say they were given no reason for the dramatic toss out, which involved gun-toting guards. They are asking members of the public at large to write letters of protest to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and have retained legal counsel.

Meanwhile, Ernie Eves and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are not the only ones who can expect media covered carping from UN poster boy Maurice Strong when he arrives at the PMO.

Along with his Rolodex, Strong comes equipped with an agenda that’s destined to favor radical environmentalists.

Environmental activists have been celebrating ever since word leaked out that Maurice Strong would serve as senior advisor to Prime-Minister-in-Waiting Paul Martin.

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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