The price of public speaking

Last year, Montana public service commissioner Ken Toole expressed concerns about "undue" corporate influence at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region - a public-private partnership that encourages cooperation between provincial and state politicians. And it seems those concerns won't be allayed this year, when the group meets in Vancouver for its eighteenth annual summit.

In a pitch to prospective sponsors, summit co-chairs John Van Dongen, the minister of state for intergovernmental relations, and Vancouver International Airport Authority president and chief executive officer Larry Berg, boast "your organization will not only have an opportunity to be part of this important event and promote the leadership of your organization in the Pacific Northwest region, you will also have the opportunity to participate directly in the development of the Summit and be at the table with key officials and business leaders in July 2008." Indeed, according to the group, diamond ($50,000) and platinum ($30,000) sponsor chief executive officers will be given an opportunity to "address Summit participants." Fancy that!

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