Informal forum or global conspiracy?
CBC News Online | June 13, 2006

The seed was planted by one man - Joseph Retinger, who left Poland for Britain in 1911 and spent the next three decades working as a political adviser. After the Second World War, he became a leading advocate of the unification of Europe - at least the western part of the continent.

Retinger was alarmed by the growing influence of Soviet-style communism and a rising tide of anti-Americanism in Western Europe. In 1952, he persuaded Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands and Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland to help him organize an international conference. Prominent business people and politicians from several European countries and the United States would be invited. The goal: To provide a forum where influential people could meet and talk about ways that help promote understanding on both sides of the Atlantic - and prevent future wars.

They met at the Hotel de Bilderberg near Arnhem in the Netherlands for two days in May. The conference was deemed such a success that the group pledged to make it an annual event. They adopted the location of their first meeting place as the name of their new group.

The idea was to create an informal network of influential people who could consult each other privately and confidentially. They could focus on what their countries had in common and bounce ideas off each other that could make life better for everyone.

The group decided that it would invite 100 of the most powerful people in Europe and North America every year to meet behind closed doors at a different five-star resort. The group stresses secrecy: What's said at a Bilderberg conference stays at a Bilderberg conference. The organization says that encourages members to talk frankly, without the worry that what they say will wind up in the news.

Several high-profile journalists have been invited over the years - again, on the understanding that they must not report on the proceedings. Break the rule and you're not invited back.

Skeptics argue that the secrecy means Bilderberg members can spend their private time hatching plans to control the world politically and economically, ensuring that the rich and powerful maintain their grip on the levers of power while the rest of the population is enslaved to keep the economic machinery running. Bilderbergers, some have argued, have withheld cancer cures so as not to anger the global pharmaceutical industry. They've also kept technology out of the public domain that would allow cars to travel 75 kilometres on a litre of gas. Big Oil, apparently, would not approve.

The group has assembled at least three times in Canada, most recently June 8 to 11 this year at the Brookstreet Hotel in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. According to a Bilderberg news release, prominent Canadians invited to the 2006 conference included former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna, Paul Desmarais, CEO of Power Corporation, Gordon Nixon, president and CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada, and Heather Reisman, chair and CEO of Indigo Books.

They got to mingle with the likes of Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Richard Holbrooke, key American negotiator for 1995 Bosnian peace accords, Richard Perle, senior foreign policy adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, retired banker David Rockefeller, and Johann Koss, Norwegian Olympian and president of the Right to Play organization.

The news release also said some of the topics on the agenda of the Kanata meeting would be energy, Iran, terrorism and European-American relations. There were no news conferences or communiqués as the meeting wound up.

James Tucker - an American libertarian and journalist - has been a critic of the Bilderberg group for decades.

"When meeting last year in Rottach-Egern, Germany, Bilderberg called for dramatic increases in the price of oil. Oil prices started climbing immediately from $40 a barrel to $70," Tucker wrote in the days before the 2006 meeting.

Tucker says the group has used its meetings to organize wars and the overthrow of "unfriendly" leaders. It has also been accused of identifying politicians who are friendly to big business and backing their runs for power. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton spoke at a Bilderberg conference a year before his election victory, as did British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The current chairman, Belgian politician and businessman Etienne Davignon, says the steering committee that organizes the annual get-togethers is excellent at spotting talent.

Former prime ministers Paul Martin, Jean Chretien and Pierre Trudeau also made Bilderberg appearances.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took in the group's 2003 meeting in Versailles, France, while he was Opposition leader. But Tucker says the Bilderbergers are not pleased with Harper. It's because of Kyoto. The Bilderberg group, Tucker says, is behind the Kyoto Protocol. They're the ones who pushed it. Like they pushed NAFTA and the World Trade Organization - and "turned NATO into the UN's standing army. It's a step," Tucker writes, "on the road to creating world government." (Canadian Broadcasting Centre, 6.13.2006)

0homefly.gif (8947 bytes)