UN: Power Corp and the Canadian Connections

The Western Standard examines Canada’s Power Corporation and the multi-billion dollar conglomerate’s multiple links to the UN Oil-For-Food scandal.

Add up the facts that Power Corp. appears to be connected to an oil company that would benefit extensively if Saddam remained in power, with the bank appointed by the UN to help broker an Oil-for-Food program that appears to have been directly enriching Saddam, and which is being investigated for irregularities that may have abetted the wholesale corruption that eventually engulfed Oil-for-Food, and that Power’s owners have a professional and personal relationship with the man hired by the UN to investigate the corruption, and it’s no wonder that more and more questions are being asked about the firm.

As well as family relationships – Paul Desmarais’ son is married to the daughter of former Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien. In fact, every prime minister in the past 30 years (save one) has been associated with Power Corp in some capacity.

Prime Minister Paul Martin and former PMs Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney and Pierre Trudeau have all been close, personal friends of Paul Desmarais Sr. The story on Parliament Hill was that Trudeau’s leadership bid was cooked up in Power headquarters in Victoria Square in Montreal. In the hiatus of his political career in the 1980s, Chrétien cooled his heels sitting on the board of a Power Corp. subsidiary, Consolidated Bathurst, and Power executive John Rae ran Chrétien’s leadership campaigns in 1984 and 1990, as well as the 1993 election campaign that brought Chrétien to office. Martin got his start in the business world in the early sixties, working for then Power Corp. president Maurice Strong, and was made a millionaire, thanks to an undisclosed 1981 deal in which Desmarais sold him Canada Steamship Lines. Strong continues to act as one of Martin’s senior advisors.

This chart attempts to simplify the connections:

(Click for full size image)

Maurice Strong is worthy of considerable attention.

…[P]resident of Power from 1964 to 1966–who went on to run Ontario Hydro and Petro-Canada–is not only a member of the Privy Council for Canada and a direct adviser to Paul Martin, he’s also a senior adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.


Strong had been an undersecretary general of the United Nations since 1985. He once told Toronto journalist Elaine Dewar that he liked working for the UN specifically because of its undemocratic nature. “He could raise his own money from whomever he liked, appoint anyone he wanted, control the agenda,” wrote Dewar in her 1995 book, Cloak of Green. “He told me he had more unfettered power than a cabinet minister in Ottawa. He was right: no voters had put him in office, he didn’t have to run for re-election, yet he could profoundly affect many lives.”

Strong is the architect of the Kyoto Protocol – from which Power Corp’s holdings in China are certain to benefit.

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FILED UNDER: Iraq War, United Nations,
Kate McMillan
About Kate McMillan
Kate McMillan is the proprietor of small dead animals, which has won numerous awards including Best Conservative Blog and Best Canadian Blog. She contributed nearly 300 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and June 2007. Follow her on Twitter @katewerk.


  1. bindare says:

    That is amazing! Could it be that these influential people also hoped to hide their questionable activities by encouraging the rabid anti-americanism of our holier than thou neighbor to the north.

  2. ATM says:

    The entire problem with the Oil-for-Food scam is that gave lots of people reason to cover up for Saddam. Let’s suppose Saddam did divert money from the Oil-for-Food program to weapons programs or more importantly to al Qaeda. And then let’s suppose one of the countries involved with it traced the funds to al Qaeda after 9/11. Would they tell the US about it, especially if they had more to gain if Saddam remained in power? I for one don’t believe that the French government would provide evidence to us of Saddam’s giving assistance to al Qaeda if they found it and thought they were the only ones who knew.

  3. Kate says:

    No. That’s a natural Canadian tendency they exploit when needed to keep the party faithful voting Liberal.

  4. BigFire says:

    As Mark Steyn said in one of his article, if someone pitch a script describing a nefarious oil company Total Group with sweetheart deal to exploit 25% of Iraqi oil reserve, and this company is controlled by Power Corp, with tenticles throughout Canadian politics for the last 40 years, they’d laught the writer out of the building. Alas, truth is much much stranger than fiction.