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While it is somewhat encouraging to see that Whistler council has yet to sign the contract with Mr. Schwab to host 2,000 of the World's corporate élite in our little town, I fear that Mayor O'Reilly and certain councillors are now trying to spin the thing in a certain way so that they (and we citizens and taxpayers) get the WEF and they maintain their elected positions so they may personally enjoy the benefits of their vote for the World Economic Forum, while we poor taxpayers foot the bill as they hobnob with the world's supposed élite.
While I was out of town for the last council meeting, apparently David Roberts, GM of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, and Suzanne Denbak of Tourism Whistler were encouraged to speak out in favour of the World Economic Forum. Those who have collected over 1,000 signatures on a petition opposing the WEF and others in opposition were strangely not represented. David Roberts is an excellent individual who has contributed greatly to our community and has certainly earned my respect, so I must assume that David has been instructed from above that as the most likely central venue for the WEF, David and his property are the most likely financial beneficiaries of the WEF. Sorry David, but I do not agree that Fairmont Hotels and Resorts get premium rates from the élite WEF delegates while the mountains and most businesses suffer losses, our community gets a tarnished image and we poor taxpayers have to foot the bill for all of this madness.
Tourism Whistler? Well of course Suzanne supports the WEF because she honestly believes that Premier Campbell is going to give her a "free" $15 million conference centre renovation. Two things disturb me about this. Firstly, it's only free to Suzanne because we taxpayers of British Columbia have to pay the tab and I really don't know where Premier Campbell is going to get the money, given the government of B.C.'s dismal financial position. Secondly is the basic principle proven around the world, that "free" money from politicians is seldom well spent. To further prove this example, if we add $15 million to renovate the conference centre plus $12 million for all the riot policemen and fencing, we get $27 million for a five-day party, which at over $5 million per day is pretty rich for the B.C. government. If the expanded and renovated conference centre is so desperately needed, why isn't there a compelling business case that demonstrates the need and benefits such that funds can be raised the old fashioned way... by working for it?
I have now begun to develop some sympathy for Mayor O'Reilly because he must have some very heavy political hands leaning on his shoulders. I mean Prime Minister Chrétien last year offered Whistler as the venue for this year's G8 summit but after all of the injuries and a shooting death in Gothenburg, Sweden and Genoa, Italy, the leaders of Whistler strongly opposed this proposition and the thing was forced upon Kananaskis Country in Alberta, where they can just close the entire damn valley. The locals are not impressed but it has been shoved down their throats anyway. That doesn't mean, however, that the citizens of Whistler have to just lay down and die.