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Corporations have G20's ear

The B20 summit puts business leaders at the table with finance ministers

by Tim Groves

Corporations have G20's ear

While almost everyone in Toronto has heard of the G20 Summit, few have heard of the connected B20 Summit. The G20 Business Summit or B20 will be a meeting of the finance minister and two corporate leaders from each of the G20 Nations. It will take place in Toronto on June 25th and 26th.

“The B20 is a meeting between some of the wealthiest citizens in the world with the most politically powerful people” said Marya Folinsbee, a spokesperson for the People's Summit, an alternative summit that is open to everyone. “These CEOs represent corporations that get rich off the backs of the poor, cause obscene destruction to the environment, and commit human rights abuses around the world.

“It is my hope that the business summit will not only inform discussions by G20 leaders, but enable business to play an active role in finding practical solutions to the global challenges we all face.” said Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty. He announced the B20 Summit on May 17th. “I look forward to hearing their advice on how to get the global economy firmly on the road to recovery.”

The names of the two corporate leaders from each of the G20 nations will be attending the meeting, have not been announced. However the B20 Summit is being organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), a lobby group that brings together the heads of over 150 of the biggest businesses in Canada, including Barrick Gold, Suncor, SNC Lavelin, Irving, and Royal Bank

The CCCE is name that few Canadians have ever heard, but the organization has a long history of influencing Canadian policy. It has operated since the 1970's as the Business Council on National Issues, but changed its name to CCCE in 2001.

“They represent the elite of capital in this country, and effectively act as a shadow cabinet to Prime

Ministers of either the Conservative or Liberal Parties.” said a statement from the Toronto and York Region Labour Council. “The real people calling the shots in Canada are found around the boardroom table of the [CCCE]”

“I’m excited about this inaugural B20” said John Manley the head of the CCCE, “because I believe it is vital that governments and the private sector work closely together during this critical period in economic history.”

“We need to ensure that public policy in Canada and elsewhere enables that growth”. Manley told a crowd at the prestigious Empire Club. “We need to oppose protectionism whenever and wherever it arises, and renew the push for multilateral and regional trade liberalization”

“We need to reform the international financial regulatory framework in ways that encourage the prudent management of risk” Manley said, explaining that a matter of particular importance at the B20 summit would be opposing plans for a new global tax on financial transactions. Such a tax had been proposed by some European leaders, including former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

Another B20 meeting is planned to take place in South Korea this November, along side the next G20 meeting.

“These Summits are undemocratic fronts that seek to legitimize a corporate vision for our world that puts profits and the unfettered pursuit of wealth ahead of people, the communities we live in and the environment that sustains us.” said Folinsbee, “There is little doubt who the G8 and G20 Summits aim to benefit. It is not the People.”

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