The Conservatives are calling out Chrystia Freeland for opting to “rub elbows with global elites” rather than focusing on issues that matter to Canadians.
Freeland, Canada’s deputy prime minister, was in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum’s 2024 annual meeting. She participated in a panel on trade and, according to her published itineraries, took “meetings with business leaders and other participants.”
In a statement to True North, a Conservative spokesperson said Freeland’s return to the Swiss alps is “yet more evidence of her high flying, high carbon hypocrisy.”
“Instead of focusing on the problems facing Canadians, she has jetted across the globe to rub elbows with global elites and lecture the world on decarbonization,” the spokesperson said. “In fact, she won’t even tell Canadians who she is meeting with in Davos and what the topics of those meetings are.”
The spokesperson’s reference to decarbonization refers to a comment Freeland made on her panel about transitioning away from oil and gas.
“Canada is absolutely determined that decarbonization, for us, will mean more jobs, more growth, more manufacturing, and we recognize government needs to play a role to make that happen,” Freeland said Thursday.
The implications of decarbonization are debatable. While some advocates, like Freeland, claim it can be profitable for industry, other leaders see it as antithetical to capitalism.
The same day as Freeland’s panel, Colombian Environment Minister Susana Mohamad told World Economic Forum attendees that decarbonization requires a “revolution” to upend the capitalist system and tolerate “another way of living.”
A representative of Freeland responded to the criticism from Poilievre’s office in an email to True North defending the trip.
“The Deputy Prime Minister had a number of meetings to promote investment in Canada, which is key to economic growth and job creation,” Freeland’s spokesperson, Katherine Cuplinskas, said. “As a reminder, Mr. Poilievre’s Deputy Leader Ms. (Melissa) Lantsman, and his Associate Finance Critic, Mr. (Adam) Chambers, both attended WEF in the company of former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then-Minister Jim Flaherty.”
Cuplinskas directed True North to several posts on X by Freeland featuring photos of her with BHP CEO Mike Henry, Honda executives, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
The Conservative spokesperson accused Freeland of being especially hypocritical for talking about decarbonization while on an international junket.
“Just as her hypocrisy was on display when she lectured Canadians about carbon taxes while being chauffeured around in limousines and government vehicles, she has again sent Canadians a message that she believes there should be one set of rules for struggling Canadians and another set of rules for her and her friends in Davos,” the statement said.
The World Economic Forum’s energy panels are almost exclusively based on the premise that there must be a transition away from oil and gas.
The organization, founded more than 50 years by Klaus Schwab, claims to wield significant influence in governments around the world, including Canada’s.
Freeland is a mainstay on the Davos circuit, serving on the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees. Poilievre has been critical of the organization, vowing to ban cabinet ministers, if he’s elected, from attending the annual meeting.