- NATIONAL POST - Feb 2, 2021 -
The World Economic Forum (WEF), which has met at the Swiss ski resort of Davos every year since its creation in 1971 by German academic and entrepreneur Klaus Schwab, was forced to convert its annual schmoozefest into a virtual event this year due to COVID-19. Of note on the main agenda was a “stakeholder capitalism” panel, which included Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland. The former-journalist-turned-politician has been a fixture at the WEF for years. Rubbing shoulders at Davos with the world’s rich, famous and powerful was one of the inspirations for her 2012 book, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else.
Indeed, in her book, Freeland notes that an invitation to Davos “marks an aspiring plutocrat’s arrival on the international scene.” The global elite don’t especially enjoy the glare of publicity on their privileged lifestyles, so much so that Freeland wrote in a 2015 opinion piece in The Guardian: “After my book, Plutocrats, was published in 2012, I was even — and I know this will shock you — disinvited to a Davos dinner party!” If the doors of Davos were closing for Freeland, they swung wide open after her entry into politics in 2013.
Indeed, the one-time critic has enjoyed an apotheosis of sorts and since 2019 has sat on the board of trustees of the WEF itself. Other members include Canada’s own Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England; Al Gore, former U.S. vice-president; Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest individual; Larry Fink, head of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment fund; and a slew of other bankers, CEOs, tycoons and celebrities. Notably, Freeland is the only government minister presently on the board.