The world’s political elite, top thinkers and powerful business folk gathered here for an annual, ultra-secretive Bilderberg conference as heavy security kept conspiracy theorists and curious onlookers at bay.
Global luminaries such as former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, US banker David Rockefeller and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands were greeted at the airport by limousine drivers holding single-letter “B” signs late Thursday, said local reports.
They were quickly whisked away to the Brookstreet Hotel in a serene suburb of Ottawa for three-day talks on oil markets, security concerns tied to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, terrorism, and immigration, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
Conspiracy theorists who follow the group accuse it of plotting world domination at its informal annual gatherings.
But, Richard Perle, former US defence policy advisor, upon his arrival in Ottawa, denied allegations the group crafts public policy behind closed doors. “It discusses public policy,” he stressed to a Citizen reporter.
A statement from the group said the meetings were private to encourage “frank and open discussions.”
But skeptic Daniel Estulin, who flew from Spain to try to cover the conference, said their intent is to “create a world government ruled by an elite group of people whose main objective is to control all the natural resources on the planet.”
Another local observer commented to the Citizen: “There are all sorts of gaps in what politicians say and do. This is just another example of the circumventing of the democratic process.”
The talks are by invitation-only. Because discussions are off-the-record, the group has been subject to similar criticisms and speculation about its intentions since 1954 when the first conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg in the Netherlands.
Several sources say Poland’s Joseph Retinger, former Belgian prime minister Paul van Zeeland, and former Unilever chief executive Paul Rijkens organized the first meeting to unite European and US elites amid growing cross-Atlantic tensions a half-century ago.
Its success spawned similar talks at posh hotels and palaces in Europe, the United States and Canada each year since.
Other attendees seen arriving in Ottawa on Thursday included former Canadian ambassador to Washington Frank McKenna, Royal Dutch Shell chairman Jorma Ollila, former World Bank president James Wolfenson and Scandinavian Airlines chairman Egil Myklebust, according to reports.
Former New York governor George Pataki, Iraq’s deputy prime minister Ahmad Chalabi, the heads of Coca-Cola, Credit Suisse, the Royal Bank of Canada, several media moguls, and cabinet ministers from Spain and Greece, were also expected to attend.