Brad Wall to rub shoulders with world leaders at Bilderberg conference
Premier keen to pick Henry Kissinger's brain on China
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 set 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 Monday his trip will give him a chance to tell Saskatchewan's story to major players.
"We're going take every chance we can to tell the world about what's going on in Saskatchewan and what we have to offer and this is a pretty good opportunity to do that," he said.
"Saskatchewan increasingly is playing a role in the world, especially from an economic standpoint," Wall added. "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 Bilderberg website says key topics for this year's conference include job growth, cyber warfare and politics within the European Union.
Kissinger to attend
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.
"He's written a recent best-selling book on it — on this whole question of China — and so I think there's some pretty good questions that Saskatchewan can ask of Dr. Kissinger," Wall said.
No details to be divulged
Wall acknowledged 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. He added if taxpayers were footing the travel bill, it would not be appropriate for him to limit his report on what was 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."
With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger