Jim Flaherty’s annual policy retreat with business leaders is no waste of time, says one Canadian tech leader.
Yona Shtern, CEO of Beyond the Rack was on BNN’s “The Street” today by phone from Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s annual policy retreat, which gathers 17 business and think tank leaders at The Wakefield Mill Inn in Wakefield, Quebec.
The meeting has been criticized as a waste of time and taxpayer money by some.
Sun Media National Bureau Chief David Akin yesterday wrote about the meetings.
“…someone somewhere in the Harper government thought it would be a swell idea to let four registered lobbyists of the finance department get two days of private off-the-record can’t-tell-you-what-we-talked-about time with the country’s finance minister while the one journalist allowed into the event — a government employee no less — agrees to attend on condition she can’t report on what they all said, and all this on the taxpayer dime?”
Akin says he challenged the minister to come up with a single idea that has originated from the meetings that actually made it into a budget. Flaherty’s vague response -he said there was one but didn’t specify- didn’t satisfy Akin, whose piece was titled “We pay thousands for Jim Flaherty’s elite gabfest”.
Shtern, however, says the late-summer tradition has intangible value.
“My hat goes off to the finance minister” he said. “My understanding is that this is his seventh consecutive annual summit where he has sought input from the business community. I would also say that my understanding is that this is fairly unique on a global scale. I think that this is a trend and one that should be applauded because they get a real world view on what the issues are that affect our financial future.”
The list of attendees this year includes John C. Risley, CEO Clearwater Fine Foods, Ellis Ross, Chief Councilor for the Haisla Nation, Steve Williams, CEO of Suncor Energy, and CBC News Senior Correspondent Amanda Lang.
Akin notes that all attendees have one thing in common: “They are all registered lobbyists and registered to lobby the department of finance,” he said.