Friday, February 18, 2005

Lo, affiant, tell.

Mark Steyn:

Most of us know Paul Desmarais as the . . . well, let’s hold it there: most Canadians don’t know Paul Desmarais at all. You could stop the first thousand people walking down Yonge Street and I’ll bet no one would know who he is. But the few who do know him know him as the kingmaker behind Trudeau, Mulroney, Chrétien and Martin. Jean Chrétien’s daughter is married to Paul Desmarais’s son. Paul Martin was an employee of M. Desmarais’s Power Corp., and his Canada Steamship Lines was originally a subsidiary of Power Corp. that M. Desmarais put Mr. Martin in charge of. In other words, Paul Martin’s public identity--successful self-made businessman, not just a career pol, knows how to meet payroll, etc.--is entirely derived from the patronage of M. Desmarais...

...Power Corp.’s other alumni range from Quebec premiers to Canada’s most prominent international diplomat, Maurice Strong. In fairness, you don’t have to work for M. Desmarais to reach the top of the greasy pole-Kim Campbell managed it, for about a week and a half.

But this is just the hicksville stuff. What’s really impressive is that, when one considers the epic events of the last three years, the truly Canadian content is not Toronto-born aid spokespersons, but the ubiquitous presence of M. Desmarais.

During the Iraq war, for example, I mentioned en passant that Power Corp. is the biggest shareholder in TotalFinaElf, the western corporation closest to Saddam Hussein (it has since changed its name to the Total Group). Total had secured development rights to 25 per cent of Iraq’s oil reserves, a transformative deal that would catapult the company from a second-rank player into the big leagues with Exxon and British Petroleum. For a year, the antiwar crowd had told us it was “all about oil”--that the only reason Iraq was being “liberated” was so Bush, Cheney, Halliburton and the rest of the gang could annex in perpetuity the second biggest oil reserves in the world. But, if it was all about oil, then the fact--fact--is that the only Western leader with a direct stake in the issue was not the Texas oilpatch stooge in Washington, but Jean Chrétien: his daughter, his son-in-law and his grandchildren stood to be massively enriched by the Total-Saddam agreement.
London Fog researchers have discovered that the bizarre name "TotalFinalElf" is in fact an anagram of "FLAIL AT TEFLON", the fate of many who, influenced by American television and the relative openness of procedure and debate there, have thought this or that latest scandal would be the end of the Liberals. Or at least one or two Liberals.

The researchers caution this may all be entirely coincidental.

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