What's so bad about Bilderberg?
Ottawa Xpress | June 15, 2006
By Stuart Trew
Bilderberg meeting or not, there was no way I was heading out to Kanata last weekend to scream at black limos about genetically modified crops and war with Iran. I don't care what they - Richard Perle, Frank McKenna, David Rockefeller, etc. - talked about behind closed doors; I can live with that kind of secrecy.
Despite best guesses from right- and left-wing conspiracy theorists, there is only circumstantial evidence proving these disgustingly wealthy Bilderbergers have any influence over government policies in any country. The equally secretive North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), on the other hand, has far too much power.
The NACC came out of well-publicized but ultimately hush-hush conversations between Stephen Harper, George W. Bush and Mexican president Vicente Fox in Cancún earlier this year. Those talks were part of that whole "three amigos" thing they're calling the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America, which in media and John Manley fairyland helps people and commodities cross borders freely and quickly while stopping terrorists in their tracks.
A different picture emerges when you leaf through the SPP's "Prosperity Agenda" (www.spp.gov). It turns out "people" actually means "business persons within North America." The rest of us are "human capital" to be developed in line with continental corporate imperatives.
Also annoying is the part about "regulatory co-operation," which means both "eliminating
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redundant testing and certification requirements" on all goods, including food and drugs, and avoiding new regulation altogether. Biotech companies are big on this idea because it means they can test new "foods" in the market rather than proving they're safe for consumption beforehand.
New to the "agenda" this year is this aforementioned North American Competitiveness Council, created amazingly to increase "private sector engagement in the SPP by adding high-level business input." The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), who basically wrote the entire SPP on their own, called the new council an important step towards "enhancing the competitive position of North American industries in the global marketplace."
The goal is to compete with economic heavyweights India and China, neither of which is known for its stringent labour or environmental laws. We can compete, says the CCCE, by drastically reducing corporate and income taxes. Not discussed is the resulting lack of funding for benefits like public health care, which recently lured Toyota to Ontario despite several U.S. states promising the company hundreds of millions in incentives.
In other words, a limited number of CEOs from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are currently deciding what kind of countries their "human capital" will have to live in. They had Paul Martin's ear, they have Stephen Harper's, and they are purposely keeping the conversation as secret as possible for obvious politically sensitive reasons:
Continental competitiveness means a lot more than lower taxes.
"At the top of a new and invigorated agenda should be the negotiation of a comprehensive initiative aimed at erasing remaining trade, investment and regulatory barriers between the two countries," says an excerpt from the CCCE publication Northern Edge: How Canadians Can Triumph in the Global Economy. Going back to the biotech example, that means mega-U.S. "agri-food" companies buying up the entire Prairies.
"The agenda must also take into account the reality of convergence," continues the corporate wet dream. "Foreign policy, security and immigration issues must be incorporated into the overarching strategy for dealing with the United States."
I can handle Bilderberg. But the SPP? Most of our MPs don't even know the details. So to the protesters who waited outside Kanata's Brookstreet Hotel last weekend waiting to catch a hateful glimpse of Henry Kissinger: Why don't you stop stuffing XPress boxes with your hysterical posters and write Harper a goddamned letter or something?
SPEAKING OF SECRECY: Having fed the public their case against 17 suspected terrorists from Toronto, CSIS and the RCMP will now fight defence lawyers behind the blanket of a publication ban. For those still following the news - and I'm afraid I'll drop out any day now - that probably means a long hot summer of racist commentary. It's extremely worrying that this high-profile bust could prejudice the Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of Canada's security certificate process. And it's disgusting that while the press considers Madonna's new touring outfit from H&M in between exaggerations of homegrown holy terror, the 17 men they've found guilty are already being deprived of food and sleep like animals. What the fuck are we going to tell our children?
The North American Competitiveness Council is born!
A day after finishing this column, Harper quietly announced the Canadian members of this new Competitiveness Council. Not surprisingly, 9 out of 10 are members of the CCCE, an elite group of Canada's richest CEOs with a stated goal of integrating the Canadian and American economies. They talk a good talk about Canada's dropping productivity compared with the U.S., blaming our high taxes until they're blue in the face. In fact, Canada's top corporate leaders simply can't compete with their American counterparts and, according to recent news reports, soak up a disproportionate amount of company profits instead of reinvesting in new technology that would help them become more productive. In alphabetical order, they are: Dominic D'Alessandro (Manulife Financial); Paul Desmarais, Jr. (Power Corporation of Canada); David Ganong (Ganong Bros. Limited); Richard George (Suncor Energy Inc.); Hunter Harrison (CN); Linda Hasenfratz (Linamar Corporation); Michael Sabia (Bell Canada Enterprises); Jim Shepherd (Canfor Corporation); Annette Verschuren (The Home Depot); and Rick Waugh (Scotiabank).
Today Kanata ... Tomorrow the world. - YOU MIGHT not care or know about the ultra-secretive meetings that happened this weekend at the Brookstreet Hotel.
Today Kanata ...
...Tomorrow the world. Or so conspiracy theorists warn as secret confab wraps up
HOLLY LAKE, OTTAWA SUN | June 12 2006
YOU MIGHT not care or know about the ultra-secretive meetings that happened this weekend at the Brookstreet Hotel.
Whether you pay attention to the annual gathering of the Bilderberg group -- comprised of royalty, political power-brokers, national leaders, bankers and heads of some of the world's largest companies -- Mark O'Donnell says what they do and decide impacts our lives daily.
"The world we're living in right now is a reflection of some of the decisions that people like this have made."
The 32-year-old Kanata man and father of one said the meetings are part of the reason why gas is a dollar a litre and Iraq was invaded.
"A lot of people have a lot more local problems -- how to buy groceries this week," he said. "These are major, major issues and for a lot of people, it's too much for them to even care about. If it's not going to affect them in the next week or two, it's not really a concern."
A "moderate" conspiracy theorist, O'Donnell said some of more vocal Bilderberg critics do themselves a disservice by grandstanding.
"It's too easy to dismiss," he said. "You're not going to get any support or credit when people drive by and see, 'We're all going to hell'."
It's also too easy for people to label critics conspiracy theorists and be on with their day, he said. He's done some research and taken a close look at who's involved and he's convinced something stinks.
The Brookstreet Hotel was off limits to all but staff and Bilderbergers this weekend. Outside, heavy security staffed metal gates blocking all access to the hotel's empty parking lot. Two police cruisers patrolled the lot but even police officers who can usually go anywhere couldn't approach the hotel without a special Bilderberg-issued pass.
Even yesterday, as a steady stream of black limos with tinted windows ferried the privileged participants away from the hotel, onlookers were kept off the property.
Bilderberg is criticized for being accountable to no one and circumventing democracy by privately discussing public issues -- and some suspect setting public policy. Members say they're building transatlantic understanding, frankly talking about issues, but they prefer to do it in private where invited participants can speak freely.
Secret meetings that have Indigo Books CEO Heather Reisman, Richard Perle, one of George W. Bush's top advisors, billionaire David Rockefeller and Holland's Queen Beatrix in the same group?
"What could they possibly have to say to one another?" O'Donnell asked. "And why hide in secrecy if they're talking about good? It just seems to stink of something."
Some of the more prominent attendees at this year's conclave at the Brookstreet:
GEORGE ALOGOSKOUFIS, finance minister of Greece.
Ahmad Chalabi, former deputy prime minister of Iraq.
George David, chairman of Coca-Cola.
Paul Desmarais, CEO of Power Corporation.
Richard Holbrooke, U.S. foreign policy advisor.
Vernon Jordan, friend and onetime aide to Bill Clinton.
Henry Kissinger, advisor to U.S. presidents (a regular participant).
Bernardino Leon Gross, Spain's foreign minister.
Ronald S. Lloyd, chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston.
Frank McKenna, former New Brunswick premier, former ambassador to the U.S. and deputy chair of the Toronto Dominion Bank (a regular participant).
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, whose father started the meetings (a regular participant).
Gordon Nixon, president and CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada.
George Pataki, governor of New York state.
Richard Perle, senior foreign policy adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush and an architect of the war in Iraq (a regular participant).
Heather Reisman, chairwoman and CEO of Indigo Books and Music Inc.
David Rockefeller, retired banker, heir to Rockefeller oil fortune (regular participant).
Dennis B. Ross, former Clinton Mideast negotiator.
James Wolfensohn, U.S. Mideast envoy, former head of the World Bank.
OUT IN THE OPEN'
- The Bilderberg group, a highly secretive annual gathering of some of the world's most powerful people, was founded in 1954 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, ostensibly to foster better transatlantic understanding and co-operation through frank discussion. The group takes it name from the hotel in Holland where the group first met.
- They have no website and make few official statements but meet under extreme security, usually at the most luxurious five-star resorts in Europe and North America.
- Invited guests usually number around 120, and include European royalty, presidents, prime ministers and top global economic and foreign policy figures, academics, media moguls and others.
- Critics say they are a shadow government, the real power that transcends politics and national governments, who pick politicians and control key posts, decide macroeconomic events and when and where wars will take place.
- Their aim, critics say, is a new world order, one world government, one religion, elimination of national boundaries and governments and complete control of finance, energy, natural resources, and production and distribution of goods and services.
Toronto To Build More Nuclear Plants After Bilderberg Speech
Toronto To Build More Nuclear Plants After Bilderberg Speech
ROBERT BENZIE / Toronto Star | June 12 2006
The provincial government will announce tomorrow that Ontario is embracing more nuclear power plants, sources told the Toronto Star.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has privately spoken of his government's plans to confidants for days, insiders say.
In an off-the-record speech on Saturday night in Ottawa to the secretive Bilderberg group, McGuinty discussed the pros and cons of more nuclear plants.
While he did not divulge the government's plans to that audience of 160 business and political leaders, the premier privately admitted the public will officially learn of the plans tomorrow when his government announces its long-awaited response to the Ontario Power Authority's report on the province's energy supply mix.
Last December, the OPA, an arm's length agency, recommended in its 1,100-page report that Ontario spend up to $40 billion over the next 20 years to produce 12,400 megawatts of electricity from new or refurbished nuclear plants.
The authority said nuclear power would have to be 50 per cent of the province's energy mix through 2025.
"The government will soon announce our response to the Ontario Power Authority report," an aide to the premier said last night. "The premier repeated on Saturday what he has always said publicly, that we cannot take new nuclear off the table as we prepare Ontario's long-term energy plan."
Despite claims from his office that his speech was no different from one he delivered in Niagara Falls a year ago, insiders told the Star he was unequivocal in private conversations about his support for the controversial electricity source.
Ontario is already home to many nuclear facilities. There are six nuclear units at Tiverton's Bruce plant, plus two more being refurbished; four at Darlington in Bowmanville; six at Pickering, plus two that have been mothballed, and one decommissioned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. reactor at Deep River.
To meet the OPA recommendations, Ontario would need about a dozen more reactors, which would take years to build.
Ever since the OPA report was made public Dec. 9, opponents of nuclear power have been attacking McGuinty for leaning toward that option.
The Sierra Club has called the nuclear option "insanity" and Greenpeace called it a leap backward at a time when alternative sources should be sought.
McGuinty's staff deliberately omitted any mention of his speech Saturday to the Bilderberg session — held at the Brookstreet Hotel in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata — from his public itinerary.
The group, named for the Dutch hotel the organization first met at in 1954, holds its sessions behind closed doors amid tight security.
In the past, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former prime ministers Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien have addressed the organization.
Because participants in Bilderberg sessions are sworn to secrecy under threat of ex-communication from the group, politicians tend to lower their guard and speak candidly.
Insiders say McGuinty gave a "marvellous" Ontario-boosting speech interspersed with revelations about the province's need to move forward with more nuclear plants.
"He gave a stump speech on how great Ontario is and then (privately later) he said we're going to announce this week we're building new nukes," a source said.
Among those reportedly attending the Ottawa session were Ahmad Chalabi, former deputy prime minister of Iraq and a key proponent of the U.S.-led invasion of that country; Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley; Coca-Cola chairman George A. David; Power Corp. CEO Paul Desmarais; Richard Holbrooke and Vernon Jordan, long-time top advisers to former U.S. president Bill Clinton; Henry Kissinger, former U.S. secretary of state; former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna; Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands; New York Governor George Pataki; Iraq war architect Richard Perle; Heather Reisman, chair and CEO of Indigo Books and Music; Torstar president and CEO J. Robert S. Prichard and tycoon David Rockefeller, among many others.
It was the kind of power-broker audience the premier, who sat with Pataki, Reisman and Queen Beatrix, would want to reach when delivering a message about investing in Ontario — and massive investment will be required to pay for $40 billion in nuclear plants.
His address came one day after Energy Minister Dwight Duncan confirmed that the Liberal government was being forced to break its 2003 election promise to close all of Ontario's coal-fired generating plants by 2007. That promise was later amended to 2009.
On Friday, Duncan said that even the 2009 date could not be achieved.
As for the nuclear option, Jack Gibbons, executive director of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, denounced the OPA's call for more nuclear power as "1950s-style solution to meet our electricity needs in the 21st century."
NDP Leader Howard Hampton, author of a book on Ontario's electricity history, has railed against nuclear power because of environmental concerns and cost overruns.
But Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory has said Ontario needs a diverse energy supply to keep its manufacturing-reliant economy stable.