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Whistler offers qualified invitation to WEF

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Gord McKeever said one of his main reasons for supporting the WEF was because to reject it may compromise senior governments’ support for the 2010 Olympic bid.

"Jean Chretien is near retirement and he’s looking for his place in history," McKeever said. "Chretien can afford to say ‘forget about Vancouver in 2010, Toronto will get the (summer) Games in 2012. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that if Toronto gets the 2012 Games Vancouver and Whistler will get the Winter Olympics for decades."

The pro-WEF arguments were countered by some people who had ethical concerns about the corporations that belong to the forum. "Is the WEF what you want to be promoting on a global level? Is it really what we stand for?" asked one speaker.

A woman who identified herself only as Marie, 22, noted there were a lot of business owners and people of a certain age supporting the WEF, but said the WEF is not going to do anything for young people.

"I would like to make my living here, but it’s difficult. The distance between the rich and poor is growing. The WEF wouldn’t do anything for the social glue of Whistler," she said.

After the final speaker Mayor Hugh O’Reilly commented that the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting is "all about dialogue" and that the forum should be supported where ever they have their meeting.

Melamed, although he ultimately supported the qualified invitation, echoed some speakers’ concerns that there is a trend toward elitism and gentrification in the resort, which he found disturbing. He suggested the issue can be dealt with in the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan now being drafted.