Wildrose leader Danielle Smith attacks premier’s attendance at Bilderberg conference

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith attacked Premier Alison Redford on Wednesday for attending the elite Bilderberg conference.

Smith said Albertans shouldn’t have to foot the $19,000 bill to attend the conference of power brokers because the meeting is closed to media, will pass no resolutions and Redford won’t be able to say what happened or what she accomplished.

“That’s $19,000 on the taxpayer dime for a committee that meets in secret, has no policies, no resolutions, nobody is allowed — it’s invite only,” Smith said. “What is Alberta getting out of this?

“I think in fact she’s actually thinking more about her career after politics and she’s using it as a networking event. Well, fair enough, then she can pay for it herself. We don’t think Albertans should be on the hook for this tab.”

Redford defended the trip, saying Smith is trying to make political hay out of routine business. She insinuated the Wildrose leader doesn’t understand how international relations are conducted.

“The job of a premier is to advance Alberta’s interests around the world, in a number of different forums, and I feel incredibly privileged to have been invited to this,” Redford said of the three-day meeting in Chantilly, Virgina, a small town near Washington, D.C.

Though the meetings are conducted in secret, Redford said she intends to report back to Albertans on what she achieved.

The Bilderberg conferences have been held since 1954. Organizers typically invite about 130 powerful people to engage in talks that generally centre on international affairs and economic issues.

Organizers say the meetings are private so people can speak freely, but the secrecy has fuelled conspiracy theories about the purpose and goals of the conference.

Redford is believed to be the first Alberta premier invited to the meeting, but she is not the first Albertan or the first Canadian premier to attend.

In 2009, University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera attended the talks in Greece, along with Indigo Books CEO Heather Reisman, former Torstar CEO Robert Pritchard and former U.S. Ambassador Frank McKenna.

In 2010, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell attended, along with CBC correspondent Peter Mansbridge. In 2011, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney was there.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended in 2003, and Prime Ministers Paul Martin, Jean Chretien and Pierre Trudeau have also attended. (calgaryherald, 5.30.2012, Karen Kleiss, edmontonjournal.com, kkleiss@edmontonjournal.com) http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/alberta/Wildrose+leader+Danielle+Smith+attacks+premier+attendance+Bilderberg+conference/6703995/story.html


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