ALBERTA

Brad Wall Headed To Bilderberg Conference In UK

06/03/2013 05:00 EDT | Updated 08/03/2013 05:12 EDT
CP
REGINA - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is heading to a high-powered meeting of world government and business leaders that is known for its tight secrecy.

Wall is to attend the Bilderberg conference starting Thursday in Hertfordshire, England.

The conference's website says it was founded in 1954 to foster dialogue between Europe and North America. The site describes it as a forum for informal, off-the-record discussions about global issues.

Wall said it's a chance to tell Saskatchewan's story to major players and to network.

"Saskatchewan increasingly is playing a role in the world, especially from an economic standpoint," Wall said Monday.

"When you have 45 per cent or so of the world's potash reserves, a world that increasingly needs to grow more food, where emerging economies like China and India have a growing middle class and want higher protein intensities in their diet, we have the fertilizer and the food.

"And of course from an energy standpoint, we're an international player when it comes to uranium. We're an international player increasingly around clean coal, which is a big issue in many countries in Europe."

The website says key topics this year include job growth, cyber warfare and politics within the European Union.

Other guests at the invitation-only conference include Nobel Peace Prize winner and former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Wall said he wants to chat with Kissinger about relationships with China because Saskatchewan has a growing interest in trade in that region.

However, some conspiracy theorists have questioned the group's actions because of its secrecy.

Wall acknowledges he won't be able to discuss specific details from the meeting. But the premier said that's why the Saskatchewan Party is paying for the trip — not taxpayers.

"A lot of these economic forums operate the same way. They want participants to be able to speak freely," he said.

"I think there's some blue-skying that goes on, some big picture conceptualizing ... and so the report back has to be in a general sense."

Alberta Premier Alison Redford attended the Bilderberg conference last year. Redford said at the time that she was going to meet with top policy leaders about the economy and the ecological challenges of developing natural resources in a responsible way.

Redford faced criticism from the Opposition for the $19,000 trip. Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said the trip served only to beef up Redford's resume.

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