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Secretive group's departure as low-key as arrival
Small group of protesters watches as annual meeting comes to an end

Tom Spears, The Ottawa Citizen | June 12 2006

Four days after they arrived quietly at a Kanata hotel, the world's rich and powerful left just as mysteriously, in limos and SUVs with blacked-out windows.

The Bilderberg Group, a secretive organization of politicians and business leaders from around the world, gave no public statements.

With private security guards and metal barriers keeping outsiders on the street, the Bilderbergers met privately and then whisked themselves away in ones and twos, mostly to the airport.

What they talked about at the Brookstreet Hotel is still a secret. The group meets annually, and is usually rumoured to discuss international politics and business, from Middle East crises to oil prices.

They emerged singly yesterday -- Bilderberg president Etienne Davignon of Belgium, American David Rockefeller, Italian economist Mario Monti, European competition commissioner Neelie Kroes from the Netherlands, and, watchers thought, Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi.

Protesters on the sidewalk have their own version of the agenda: world domination, a merger of Canada with the United States and Mexico, hiding the cure for cancer, suppression of cars that get 200 miles per gallon of fuel, an invasion of Iran, and slavery for the common people of all countries.

About a dozen protesters stood outside yesterday, slightly fewer than on Saturday. Two police officers watched from across the street while others were inside the hotel.

They carried signs protesting the "NWO" (new world order) and denouncing the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as "an inside job."

"When you've got this many high rollers in one place, then there's a story," said Geoff Matthews, editor and publisher of a small newspaper called the Kingston Eye Opener.

"In my opinion, what they started to plan about 10 years ago is the unification of North America without the consent of the people. It's now in fast-forward."

The meetings always draw intensely curious outsiders who believe the Bilderbergers need to be exposed. One of these is Daniel Estulin, a Canadian who moved to Spain about 15 years ago -- because, he says, the Central Intelligence Agency tried to kill him. He feels safer in Spain. "I'm much further out of the reach of the secret service -- both Canadian and American."

"I write the stories everyone else is afraid to write," he said.

He and others staked out positions on the sidewalk where they could get a clear view of the hotel's front door.

For hours, they watched through binoculars and telephoto lenses, waiting as men and women got into limos. Cameras clicked, and the Bilderberg-watchers scrolled through digital images afterwards, trying to identify which member of the group they had just recorded.

Alex Jones, a documentary filmmaker from Texas, showed up with two of his crew.

"Man, this is just evil," he muttered as he paced up and down, watching more limos drive past. He was detained on his arrival in Canada, but says he was released after other media asked questions about him.

"It's a group of very powerful individuals whose objective is to create one world government, based on an economic model from the Middle Ages," he said. This would be "a post-industrial model where you have slaves and slave owners."

He claimed to have Bilderberg insiders feeding him information.

Protester J. P. Arial of Ottawa was there for the fourth straight day.

"They're ruining our planet. They're suppressing free energy, controlling the food industry. They're forcing farmers to switch to genetically modified seeds," he said. "They want to control everyone. No freedom, no democracy."

But most of Kanata took no notice of the black cars running in and out between the computer companies, past the lineup at Tim Hortons on March Road, and off to the airport.

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Andrzej Olechowski

is a former minister of foreign affairs and finance in his native Poland, where he has frequently been involved in politics since the 1990s. He ran unsuccessfully in the 2000 presidential election and Warsaw's 2002 mayoral race. Mr. Olechowski was a founding member of the centrist Civic Platform party, and is currently a member of the supervisory boards of Vivendi Universal, Citibank Handlowy and PKN Orlen.

Egil Myklebust

served as president and CEO of Norsk Hydro, a Norwegian oil and gas group that is one of that countries biggest companies, between 1991 and 2001. He then served as Norsk's chairman until 2004 and was also a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. While he is a well-known face in the world's oil and gas industry, Mr. Myklebust is currently chairman of Scandinavian Airlines.

Robert Zoellick

now reports to Condoleeza Rice as the U.S. deputy secretary of state, after serving as the U.S. trade representative from 2001 to 2005. A lawyer, Mr. Zoellick has worked in economic and diplomatic policy development in different Republican administrations for more than two decades. He has a strong reputation for hammering out international trade deals; he played a key role in sealing NAFTA and has been an important player in World Trade Organization talks.

James B. Steinberg

is best known for his work as deputy national security adviser to U.S. president Bill Clinton from 1996 to 2000. After working in government, Mr. Steinberg went on to direct foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington and is now the dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a frequent media commentator on U.S. foreign policy and has written several books on national security topics.

Juan Luis Cebrian

is the CEO of the Spanish media conglomerate Grupa Prisa, which owns El Pais, a centre-left daily that is the country's leading newspaper. Mr. Cebrian is a former editor at El Pais and has also served as chairman of the International Press Institute. He is also an acclaimed author of books such as Red Doll and the essay collection, The Press and Main Street.

Mario Monti

dubbed "Super Mario" by the press, is an Italian economist, president of Bocconi University in Milan and chairman of the European think-tank Bruegel. He has most notably served on the European Commission, where he was sometimes called an antitrust czar. Mr. Monti fought against a proposed merger between General Electric and Honeywell in 2001. The European Union eventually blocked that merger, earning criticism from U.S. regulators.

Jean-Pierre Hansen

is CEO of energy giants Electrabel, Belgium's top power producer, and Suez-Tractebel, Belgium's top utility holding company and one of the world's biggest independent power producers. Mr. Hansen holds advanced degrees in engineering and economics and has worked in the electricity and gas sectors since the 1970s.

Neelie Kroes

is a veteran Dutch politician and businesswoman who has served as European Commissioner for Competition since 2004. Ms. Kroes' appointment to the position was met with some controversy, due to her extensive business contacts. Since assuming her post, Ms. Kroes has been in the middle of Microsoft's on-going dispute with the EU over a 2004 antitrust ruling against the company. Ms. Kroes has also been a staunch ally of controversial Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Franco Bernabe

is vice-chairman of the European investment bank Rothschild Europe, former CEO of the Italian energy giant ENI and a board member of Petro-China. Mr. Bernabe headed ENI's privatization process in the early 90s and was recently quoted as saying the world oil industry remains "uneasy" with the feverish development of Alberta's oilsands near Fort McMurray. Mr. Bernabe also worked as a chief economist at Fiat, and started his career as an academic at Turin University.

David Rockefeller

is founder of the Trilateral Commission, formed in 1973 by citizens of Japan, European Union countries, the U.S. and Canada with the goal of fostering closer co-operation among those regions. Mr. Rockefeller, who has a PhD from the University of Chicago, spent 35 years as an officer of the Chase Manhattan Bank and was chairman and CEO from 1969 to 1980. He serves as honorary chairman of the Americas Society, the Council on Foreign Relations and Rockefeller University.

Frank McKenna

served as Canada's ambassador to the U.S. under prime minister Paul Martin. When Mr. Martin lost the election, Mr. McKenna returned to private life, quickly quelling rumours he would run for the Liberal party leadership. Before his U.S. stint, Mr. McKenna practised law and served on numerous corporate boards. He became New Brunswick's premier in 1987, winning every seat. He served for a decade and created a call centre industry in the resource-based province.

Jorma Ollila

served as chairman and CEO of Nokia Corporation for 14 years, from 1992 until this month when he became non-executive chairman of Royal Dutch Shell while hanging on to his Nokia association, also as non-executive chairman. He is the first non-Dutch, non-Briton to head Shell. He took Nokia from a cellphone company on the brink of takeover to the world's most successful. The Finn is a member of the board of directors of Ford Motor Company, and UPM-Kymmene.

Queen Beatrix

of the Netherlands became queen in 1980 when her mother, Juliana, abdicated. Ottawa is not new to the queen, who moved to the capital in the 1940s, and lived in Stornoway. She went to Rockcliffe Park Public School and her sister, Princess Margriet, was born in Canada. Queen Beatrix, who has a degree in law, married Claus von Amsberg, a German diplomat, in 1966.

Richard Perle

was assistant secretary of defence to U.S. president Ronald Reagan and is still considered influential in the U.S., having advised President George W. Bush. Mr. Perle served as chairman of the Defence Policy Board from 2001-2003 and was assistant secretary of defence for international security policy from 1981 to 1987. His opinions appear regularly in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and London's Daily Telegraph.

JAMES WOLFENSOHN

as president of the World Bank, walks the fine line between being a banker and an advocate for the world's poor. Born in Australia, he ended up on Wall Street via London, eventually founding a banking firm with former head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Paul Volker. Today, he is credited with working to return the World Bank to its original mandate of relieving poverty.

Etienne Davignon

is a former Belgian politician and president of the annual Bilderberg conference. Mr. Davignon was born in Hungary and quickly established a name for himself in business and politics. He was the first president of the International Energy Agency from 1974-77 and at the age of 32, he became head of cabinet. Between 1977 and 1985, he was an influential member of the European Commission. In 1989, he joined the board of the Societe Generale de Belgique.

John Vinocur

is a senior correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and reports on everything from politics to sports. He went to the Tribune from the New York Times, where he was metropolitan editor. He served as the Times bureau chief in France and Germany. He went to the Tribune as executive editor and served as the newspaper's vice- president from 1986-96. He writes for Foreign Affairs and the New York Times Magazine.

Adrian Wooldridge

is the Economist's Washington bureau chief. Prior to this, he was the magazine's west coast correspondent, and also held positions as its management correspondent and its correspondent in Britain. He co-wrote The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary Idea, and A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalisation, Witch Doctors, and The Right Nation, a look at American conservatism.

Vernon Jordan

A Washington insider, Mr. Jordan chaired the Clinton transition team in 1992. He started his public life through the civil rights movement in the 1960s, working for the NAACP, and served as executive director of the United Negro College Fund and National Urban League in the 1970s. The lawyer is a managing director with the investment banking firm Lazard Freres & Co. LLC and is on several boards, including American Express and Dow Jones & Company.

Tony Comper

has been chief executive officer of BMO Financial Group since 1999. In his three decades with BMO, he served as chairman from 1999 to 2004, when the company moved to a non-executive chairman model. He first signed on with the bank in 1967, after completing a BA in English. Mr. Comper is a member of the board of directors of the International Monetary Conference and vice-chairman of the C.D. Howe Institute.

Dermot Gleeson

chairman of Allied Irish Banks, is a lawyer. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and chairman of the Irish Council for Bioethics and is the former attorney general of Ireland. He also served as a member of the Council of State for Ireland and as then-Irish prime minister John Bruton's chief legal adviser from 1994-97. He joined the board of Allied Irish Banks in 2000 and was appointed chairman in 2003.

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