Right now, six prominent Canadians are holed up in a red-brick hotel in the U.K., receiving marching orders to take home from the shadow global government that actually runs the world.
Or so the conspiracy theorists will have you believe.
It’s that time of year again when the tin-foil hat crowd (along with some legitimate social activists) gather to protest the Bilderberg Group’s annual conference, which this year takes place at the Grove Hotel, near Watford, Hertfordshire, U.K.
Some of those cars were carrying the six Canadians listed as participants in this year’s conference.
Among them are Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and former New Brunswick Premier and prominent Liberal Party insider Frank McKenna, according to Bilderberg’s list of attendees.
The corporate world is being represented TD Bank CEO Ed Clark, Indigo Books CEO Heather Reisman, Loblaws CEO Galen G. Weston, and Robert Pritchard, head of the law firm Torys.
Among the non-Canadians attending: Google CEO Eric Schmidt; retired U.S. General David Petraeus; Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos; Henry Kissinger and even Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, among many others.
Story continues below slideshow
Unfortunately, who’s attending is as much information about this meeting as we’re likely to get.
The Bilderberg conference bills itself as confidential and off the record, a place for world leaders and policy makers to discuss major issues without the glare of camera lights and criticism from pundits. It's been holding its hush-hush conferences at ritzy hotels around the world since 1954.
But to its critics, Bilderberg is little short of a global conspiracy run at the highest levels of power.
Right wing bloggers accuse the group of plotting the creation of a world government. Left wing bloggers accuse the group of foisting a corporate agenda on the entire world.
In Canada, one conspiracy theory argues that the Bilderbergers are trying to get Canada to join the United States.
But Brad Wall says he’s just going there to let the world know Saskatchewan exists.
"Saskatchewan increasingly is playing a role in the world, especially from an economic standpoint. … When you have 45 per cent or so of the world's potash reserves, [in] a world that increasingly needs to grow more food, where emerging economies like China and India have a growing middle class and want higher protein intensities in their diet, we have the fertilizer and the food.”
Selling potash to the Chinese … not exactly the stuff of global conspiracy theories.
To be sure, there are definitely things being said at that conference that we may want to know.
For instance, Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times somehow got inside info on the 2003 conference, and reported that world leaders were predicting a global economic crisis — a full five years before the Wall Street financial collapse. That would have been useful information.
The conference's official and very vague agenda lists numerous topics, including how to get the U.S. and Europe to grow faster, the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, and "how big data is changing almost everything."
But ultimately, the strongest argument against the notion that Bilderberg runs the world is that the world is so badly run.
You’ve got the Europeans pursuing severe austerity even as Japan launches the exact opposite in the form of an unbelievably huge stimulus package. You’ve got Europe and America squabbling about a financial transaction tax, Europe and China squabbling about carbon charges, Japan and China squabbling about everything.
If there’s a shadow world government behind all this, it isn’t doing much of a job.
In fact, if Escobar’s description is accurate, Bilderberg seems more of a place for the global elite to argue with each other, without anyone knowing.
But maybe they can make some headway on the potash issue.