While Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she would attend the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, her Conservative counterpart, Pierre Poilievre, decided to take a rain check.
The international organization is hosting its 2023 annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, next week, with "Cooperation in a Fragmented World" as this year's theme. Every January, political and economic leaders gather to discuss issues pertinent to the global arena.
Given the "sheer number of ongoing crises" facing the world, WEF founder Klaus Schwab said he expects "unprecedented" participation from dozens of finance ministers and foreign ministers from states in attendance. The WEF will host 52 heads of state and government, as well as nearly 600 CEOs, according to the organization.
Among those in attendance is Chrystia Freeland, who has frequented the Davos-exclusive event several times as a member of the WEF's board of trustees. She last spoke in 2021 about implementing "stakeholder capitalism" but was noticeably absent the following year. This year, Freeland will speak in two events, titled Restoring Security and Peace and Women's Leadership: Towards Parity in Power.
However, the meeting precedes a bleak report warning of "polycrises" that pose a "severe global risk," such as climate change, natural resource shortages, and, most notably, the cost of living.
The consensus from 1,200 experts, policy-makers and industry leaders is that governments and central banks could face "stubborn inflationary pressures" over the next couple of years. The report reads that vulnerable peoples and fragile states are the most at risk of a prolonged global economic downturn.
Per a statement from the WEF, "Governments will continue to face a dangerous balancing act between protecting a broad swathe of their citizens from an elongated cost-of-living crisis without embedding inflation."
The report highlighted a growing divergence between what is "scientifically necessary to achieve net zero [carbon emissions] and what is politically feasible." Participants at last year's forum proposed several radical projects, including an "individual carbon footprint" tracker by Alibaba Group president J. Michael Evans.
"We're developing through technology an ability for consumers to measure their carbon footprint," said Evans. "What does that mean? Where are they travelling? How are they travelling? What are they eating? What are they consuming on the platform?"
But Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre doesn't believe this is the setting to discuss meaningful solutions to bread-and-butter issues. A spokesperson for his office told True North that no MP from the party would attend the upcoming forum.
During his bid for leadership, Poilievre pledged to boycott the WEF after the controversial summit faced accusations of championing significant influence over domestic policy and decision-making.
"My ministers in my government will be banned from participating in the World Economic Forum when I'm in government," said Poilievre in May. "Work for Canada. Make it a one-way ticket if you want to go to Davos — to that conference."
The annual meeting will commence on Monday, January 16, until Friday, January 20.