The Globe and Mail reports this morning that:
For two days every summer, a select group of CEOs, other business leaders, and policy experts is invited to a retreat with the Finance Minister. The event is private. Participants are allowed to talk about the meeting afterward, but cannot reveal who said what.
No one knows exactly what is on this year's agenda. But, through an access to information request, The Globe has discovered what was discussed at last year's retreat:
During last year’s sessions with business and policy leaders in Wakefield, Que., the minister was urged to adopt measures to reduce the pay of Canadian workers, limit union power by enacting U.S.-style right-to-work legislation, and allow two-tier health care.
The details are in a briefing note to Mr. Flaherty from his deputy minister that summarizes what was said.
There were also calls for a higher retirement age and to open Canada’s shipping, telecom and airline industries to more foreign competition.
Compare the deputy minister's summary with the recently passed federal budget, and you have a disturbing picture of who calls the shots in Harperland. Where did the changes to OAS come from? What about the "reformed" employment insurance policy? And then, of course, there is the government's decision to pay foreign workers 15% less than the current Canadian wage -- which depresses all Canadian wages.
In fact, The Globe reports:
Labour issues surface in several discussion categories, with the general view that Canadian workers are overpriced. “Need to address wage differentials in labor market among countries; we are losing jobs to other countries,” the memo reads. “Right to Work legislation should be pondered as it creates inequities in productivity; US example was provided.”
The memo indicates calls were made for junior public servants to be paid less. “Reduce public service wages (not in higher ranks, but those in the lower ranks such as administrative and clerical staff as they earn more than their private-sector counterparts) and reduce the overall size of the public service.”
It was all in this year's budget. It's pretty clear who calls the shots.