A left-leaning think tank is criticizing Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for his latest secret summer meeting this week.
Every summer, Flaherty hosts a closed-door, off-the-record policy retreat with the who's-who of corporate Canada to discuss what Ottawa should do to give the economy a boost.
According to David Akin of Sun News, this year's guest list consisted of mostly Bay Street big whigs — representatives from TMX, Suncor, the Royal Bank — with a sprinkling of others (including a First Nations chief, a university president, a member from the United Way, and the Fraser Institute).
Akin claims that there were no union leaders invited this time but had been invited in the past.
That has raised the ire of the Broadbent Institute.
"This type of excessive cozying up to the commanding heights of corporate Canada is run of the mill for the Harper government. It fits into a much broader pattern of behaviour, one that consistently favours the corporate sector and also works to silence or marginalize critical voices (e.g the exclusion of groups such as unions in these types of meetings, the defunding of civil society, NGOs and organizations like the Welfare Council)," a spokesperson from Institute said in an email to Yahoo! Canada News.
"The failure to invite a union rep is disappointing but not surprising. The Harper government continues to attack working people and collective bargaining rights. Throughout its mandate, it has made a point of putting the interests of corporate profits over good, secure jobs, and fair wages for working people."
The Broadbent Institute is probably right to be a little miffed.
At the 2011 meeting, according to documents obtained by the Globe and Mail, corporate leaders urged the minister "to adopt measures to reduce the pay of Canadian workers, limit union power by enacting U.S.-style right-to-work legislation, and allow two-tier health care."
And while Akin notes that participants pay their own way to get to the retreat in the Gatineau Hills, there are questions about the appropriateness of such a meeting.
Should a special interest group (ie: corporate Canada) get that much 'face time' with our finance minister? Are labour groups, environmental groups and social activists getting the same time? How much is the Harper government influenced by these meetings in say decisions with regards to back-to-work legislation?
And finally, who makes the invitation list: a lowly bureaucrat or a party staffer who has a copy of the Conservative party donor list to guide him?
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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