Whilst admiring CBC’s blog reportage, I came across this rather interesting item:
“I want to put one thing to rest: I am not dating Jennifer Aniston. I told her, ‘It’s too soon and you’re not ready.'”
— Conservative Deputy Leader Peter MacKay, who used to date Belinda Stronach and has been recently linked romantically to Sophie Desmarais, daughter of Quebec billionaire Paul Desmarais.
Peter’s definitely got a good sense of humour – but it’s the Desmarais link that has me pondering.
Let’s see, Jean Chretien’s daughter is married to Demarais’ son, André. Paul Martin worked for Desmarais before Papa Desmarais sold Paul CSL (the source of his quarter billion dollar wealth). Papa was a mentor to Brian Mulroney (and Mulroney has been a lawyer for Power since his election loss). Even the late Pierre Trudeau sat on one of Papa’s boards. Mark Steyn (geez, I read Steyn, I must be a conservative, eh!) wrote this in the Western Standard* (further proof of my leanings, n’est-ce pas?):
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.
That in itself is a remarkable achievement. Imagine if Jenna Bush married the chairman of Halliburton’s son, and then George W. Bush was succeeded by a president who’d been an employee of Halliburton: Michael Moore’s next documentary would be buried under wall-to-wall Oscars and Palmes d’Or. But M. Desmarais has managed to turn Ottawa into a company town without anyone being aware of the company. We’re a G8 economy; it would be reasonable to expect a prominent British or American businessman to number prominent political figures among his friends, but to have brought so many of them into his company and even family would surely excite some comment. 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.
And now rumour hath it that our boy, Peter, is dating Papa’s daughter Sophie. Prime Minister MacKay, Papa? Hmmm.
Now I’ll remove my tinfoil hat and get on with my real day.
*Western Standard requires free registration