While the media were proclaiming that Paul Martin – poised to become the prime minister after winning the leadership of the Liberals Nov. 18 – would lead the party in a new direction, there are many who wonder if he is really all that different from Jean Chretien, especially if one considers the elaborate web of political and business connections that both Chretien and Martin enjoy.

Two personalities stand out among the who’s who of Canadian and, indeed, international influences who surround the former and current Liberal leaders: Paul Desmarais and Maurice Strong.

Strong is the more problematic of the two: his views are extreme and dangerous and he has already admitted that he will advise “my friend” Paul Martin for free.

What kind of advice can Martin expect? Strong has long advocated one-world government, a New Age one-world religion, environmental extremism and seems to have endorsed China’s brutal one-child policy. While there are many who hold such views, there are few, if any, in a position to implement them. Strong is one such person. Not only will he have the ear of Martin – the Ottawa Citizen reported over the summer that he will advise the new prime minister on “economic, environmental and international issues” – he holds, or has held, numerous national and international posts.

In a Sept. 1, 1997 cover story in National Review, journalist Ronald Bailey exposed Maurice Strong’s web of connections, as well as his ideas, in particular his advocacy of global governance and radical environmental policies. Bailey wrote that, “Militia members are famously worried that black helicopters are practising maneuvers with blue-helmeted UN troops in a plot to take over America. But the actual peril is more subtle. A small cadre of obscure international bureaucrats is hard at work devising a system of ‘global governance’ that is slowly gaining control over ordinary Americans’ lives. Maurice Strong, a 68-year-old Canadian, is the ‘indispensable man’ at the centre of this creeping UN power grab.” It is not just Americans’ livesat stake, but ours, too.

Strong had a meteoric rise to power. Born into a poor Manitoba childhood, he became, at various times (and sometimes concurrently) senior adviser to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (a position he still holds), senior adviser to World Bank president James Wolfensohn, chairman of the Earth Council, head of the Canadian International Development Agency and later, Petro Canada, the first director of the UN Environment Program in Stockholm, chairman of the World Resources Institute, co-chairman of the Council of the World Economic Forum, a member of Toyota’s International Advisory Board, president of the World Resources Institute (which works closely with the World Bank, the UN Environment Program, and the UN Development Program) and former co-chairman of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development during the Clinton years. He was a member of the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission), member of the Club of Rome, president of the World Federation of United Nations Associations, has served on the executive committee of the Society for International Development, worked on the Commission on Global Governance, was an adviser to the population control-promoting Rockefeller Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund and was Secretary General of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, the so-called Earth Summit.

It is in this last role that he is most famous, for pushing a global economic and environmental agenda that featured a prominent role for global de-population as a necessary component of protecting the planet. Strong sees man as the enemy of nature and in the global battle between the two, favours the latter.

In his 1972 Stockholm speech, he warned of the “population time bomb,” a theme he returned to in the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. There, he invited environmental non-governmental organizations and arranged for their financing so that they could inundate the summit with their radical new agenda.

His list of friends include former U.S. president George Bush, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, World Bank president James Wolfensohn, the co-chairmen of the Commission on Global Governance Shridath Ramphal and Ingvar Carlsson, and Jonathan Lash. He is exceptionally well connected – to all the wrong people.

Bailey said Strong’s friends “tend to overlap in their institutional commitments.” They serve on each other’s boards, become advisers to one another and in the case of the World Bank’s Wolfenshohn, an early employee of Strong’s.

One need not use the word conspiracy. As Bailey noted (tongue-in-cheek) in 1997, it’s “just a group of like-minded people fighting to save the world” by implementing their radical agenda.

Strong told Maclean’s in 1976 that he was “a socialist in ideology, a capitalist in methodology.” Indeed, Strong has run numerous successful business enterprises (oil, energy, real estate), which he has parlayed into political influence. Bailey says Strong is “one of a new political breed: the bi-sectoral entrepreneur who uses business success for leverage in politics, and vice versa.”

One of those businesses was a major holding company, the Power Corporation of Canada, of which he became the president by the age of 35. Power Corp. is owned by Paul Desmarais and has twice employed Paul Martin. According to press reports, it is there that Martin caught the eye of Strong.

Perhaps. Strong was a friend of Paul Martin Sr. – indeed, they became business partners – and he seems to have taken Paul Martin Jr. under his wing. It is more likely that Martin came to Power Corp. because of Strong. More than one observer has said that Strong has “cultivated” the former finance minister to become a prime minister, allowing him, Martin, to become a business success. Martin owns Canadian Steamship Lines, which he bought from Desmarais.

So what to expect of Strong as adviser? More of what he has pushed for decades: a greater role for international agencies, promotion of population control (including abortion and birth control) and environmental plans that view man as the enemy of nature, not its steward. Strong once said, “If we don’t change, our species will not survive … Frankly, we may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse.” That seems anti-capitalist, but it is also anti-human.

It is also likely that Strong will continue the UN assault on Canadian sovereignty. In 1991, the Club of Rome (of which Strong is a member) issued a report, the First Global Revolution, which said that current problems “are essentially global and cannot be solved through individual country initiatives, (which) gives a greatly enhanced importance to the United Nations and other international systems.” This is especially troubling, considering that feminist NGOs at the UN are trying to entrench abortion as an internationally recognized human right.

The Commission on Global Governance was established in 1992 at the urging of the late Willy Brandt, former West German chancellor and head of the Socialist International. The CGG says that it is not about one-world government; however, in the words of the organization’s co-chairmen, Ingvar Carlsson and Shridath Ramphal, “This is not to say that the goal should be a world without systems or rules.” The goal, in the words of Hofstra University law professor Peter Spiro, is “not a superstate, but rather the establishment of norm-creating multilateral regimes … This construct already constrains state action in the context of human rights and environmental protection and is on a springboard in other areas.” This is what worries pro-life and pro-family Canadians.

The summits, conferences, meetings and organizations that Strong is connected to, have, over the past 15 years, become increasingly belligerent in their advocacy of abortion, same-sex rights, promotion of birth control and sexual rights for adolescents and various de-population schemes. It will not be helpful, to say the least, that a leading advocate of these policies will now be advising the prime minister.

(Next issue, a look at Paul Desmarais.)