Records show, Canadians bankrolled the WEF to the tune of nearly $3 million during the fiscal year 2020-21.

WHO and the Davos Elite Leave a Lot to be Desired

Canadians elect our leaders to work in our interests, not those of international bureaucrats or the rich and powerful

As the World Economic Forum (WEF) meets in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, and as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 75th World Health Assembly convenes in the Swiss lakeside city of Geneva, questions are once again being asked about the outsized importance of international organizations such as these. Truth be told, the WEF is not an international organization, despite its claims, and despite the fact that many governments treat it as one. It’s really a glorified NGO with pretensions of grandeur that, in point of fact, is an event organizer for the rich, famous and powerful to gather far away from the riff-raff in a difficult-to-reach resort town. You might just say that what happens in Davos stays in Davos, as the many lavish private parties and networking events are the real deal, with the portentous and pedantic sessions being a useful cover. STORY continues below videos.

In a previous column I pointed out the terrible optics of the fact that Canada’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, serves on the WEF’s Board of Trustees. Ironically, when she was still a journalist, Freeland was a sharp critic of the forum and the outsized influence of the global elites who gather there, but she’s now a top-level insider of the same outfit she decried a decade ago.

The Canadian taxpayer is also on the hook. Records show that the Canadian government — in other words, all of us — bankrolled the WEF to the tune of nearly $3 million during the fiscal year 2020-21. This might not seem like much, but in an inflationary environment in which many average Canadian families are finding it difficult to pay the rent and put food on the table, it seems extraordinary that taxpayers are expected to help subsidize an outfit that counts some of the world’s richest individuals and corporations as its benefactors. It should be noted that other governments including Japan, the U.S. and the U.K. inexplicably also dole out taxpayers’ money to subsidize the fun and frolic of the Davos man and woman high up in the Swiss Alps.

The Canadian taxpayer is also on the hook

If the WEF is a rich person’s playground, dressed up as an NGO, in turn masquerading as an international organization, the WHO is a bona fide international organization, which bizarrely gets a lot of its money from private donors who have a vested interest in the policy positions it takes.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation alone accounts for half of all the non-governmental money that the WHO receives, amounting to a whopping $530 billion or 11 per cent of its total income, second only to the U.S. government. Given that Bill Gates has taken strong positions on public health issues going back at least to the HIV epidemic, and including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including an aggressive promotion of vaccination, the fact that a private foundation with sharply held views on public health is the second largest donor to the international organization tasked to be responsible for global public health should raise questions at a bare minimum.

The WHO’s usually snoozy annual meeting is more than usually important given that it’s the forum for a discussion on a new global accord, a treaty in all but name, to manage future pandemics, which could impact those countries that sign on the dotted line in how they manage pandemics and share health information. There’s been considerable pushback against this global accord, because if the end result is a binding international agreement, it could affect national sovereignty. The liberal internationalist would argue that nations sometimes voluntarily cede a portion of their sovereignty in the interests of national and international good. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a bulwark against Soviet Communism during the Cold War, is a case in point, as is the World Trade Organization, which despite its many failings, has worked to maintain a fair, rules-based international trading system in which strong countries can’t bully the weak.

But note, both NATO and the WTO are legitimate international organizations that have proved their worth time and again since their creation, not forgetting that NATO was created near the beginning of the Cold War and prevented major Soviet incursions into the western sphere of influence, and that the WTO’s roots go back to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) from 1947, which helped power the post-war economic boom in the advanced world and later in the developing world.

But — the WHO? It couldn’t even get the basics of the COVID-19 pandemic right, arguing, for example, that there was no community transmission happening. Apart from its scientific failings, the WHO is rightly seen as unduly politicized, with outsized influence from the People’s Republic of China, where COVID-19 originated. So whatever we may think of international organizations and treaties in general, let’s not go down the rabbit hole of that philosophical debate. Even if we agree that the world needs some international co-ordination on a future pandemic, do we trust the WHO to be that co-ordinating body? Many wouldn’t, for good reason, and there’s the rub, and no conspiracy theories need to be invoked.

The bottom line is that there’s nothing wrong with participation in or support of international organizations or international co-operation, so long as it is in our nation’s interests. Canadians pay taxes and elect our leaders to work in our interests, not in the interests of faceless, nameless and unaccountable global bureaucrats sitting in Geneva, or a global elite with an extreme left-wing agenda, for example on climate change, sitting in Davos.

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