As the World Economic Forum (WEF) prepares to wind down its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Haldimand-Norfolk MP Dr. Leslyn Lewis questioned a charter signed by Canada in 2020 that stemmed from a WEF-OECD panel on agile governance. While the international lobbying organization touted it to “unlock the potential of emerging technology,” the charter also tackles how participating countries can foster cooperation on rule-making and agile regulation.
The Agile Nations charter came about following a panel convened by WEF and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Member countries so far include Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, as well as representatives from several private sector companies.
WEF and OECD are given observer status although this status is not restricted to observing, since they are also allowed to “make proposals for inclusion in the work programme; and… participate in other activities.”
Canada was represented by then-Treasury Board President and now-Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos.
“Canada’s endorsement of the Agile Nations agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating a regulatory environment where innovation can flourish and our respective businesses can be more efficient and competitive globally,” said Duclos in 2020 after the charter was signed. “Canada is ready to play its part in sharing ideas and best practices on agile regulation.”
More than two years later, Lewis asks why it seems it was signed in secrecy and–by the looks of it as she raised the question–without consulting the parliament.
“In Nov 2020 while Canadians were distracted by COVID, the Liberal govt signed a World Economic Forum-initiated Charter. The Agile Nations Charter will facilitate agile ‘rule-making’ outside of Parliament,” Lewis wrote in a tweet. “Why the secrecy?”
The WEF annual meeting this year has been one of the main contentions of the Conservative Party. Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre recently confirmed that no MP from their party will be attending the Davos summit.
In a WEF press release in 2020, the charter is described to set out each of the seven participating countries’ “commitment to creating a regulatory environment in which new ideas can thrive.”
“In a world first, the agreement paves the way for the nations to cooperate in helping innovators navigate each country’s rules, test new ideas with regulators and scale them across the seven markets,” WEF said.
What led to the collaboration is said to be WEF’s project on agile regulation for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which helps regulators worldwide respond to technology innovation.
In other words, the proliferation of new technologies—such as gene editing, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and driverless vehicles—will be made possible by the simplification of laws, according to the WEF’s Agile toolkit.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution offers the potential to change lives around the world for the better. But to realize this potential, a new approach to governance is needed,” says the WEF toolkit.
But the Conservative MP did not take the charter at face value. Lewis asked the government questions on October 21 about the nation’s participation in the network of “Agile Nations”. She received a response dated December 7 from the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). The current Treasury Board President is Ottawa—Vanier MP Mona Fortier.
Among Lewis’s questions include what is Canada’s role pertaining to the charter, why did the government sign the charter, and which stakeholders were consulted. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury Board President, Hull—Aylmer MP Greg Fergus, provided the answers, saying the charter “aligns with existing policy priorities under the [Canadian] government’s regulatory modernization agenda.”
“The United Kingdom proposed ‘Agile Nations’ as a forum for collaboration and information-sharing on regulatory innovation. Canada expressed support for the proposal and provided input on early drafts of the Charter to inform the final version that was signed in November 2020,” Fergus wrote.
Participation in Agile Nations involves supporting the development of work programmes, engaging with partner countries, and taking part in specific projects.
In terms of stakeholders, a number of tech firms were named part of the discussions in proposing the charter, including Facebook, IBM, Siemens, and Volvo Group, most of which support the charter as it “fosters cooperation on rule-making.”
When Lewis asked what projects has the government participated in or funded as part of the Agile Nations, Fergus answered that the Canadian government leads or participates in seven projects under the charter’s work program. These include “[promoting] awareness for the Agile Nations Charter and Workplan among national standards bodies,” “[aiming] to enhance the flow of air cargo and reduce overlapping orredundant security actions,” and “[collaborating] on approaches to promote the adoption of internationally-recognized security requirements for [network-connected consumer products].”
Canada also participates in the “experimental approaches” project, which “aims to contribute to our shared knowledge on tools and best practices for agile regulation” and “anticipatory regulation” project, which “[explores] horizon scanning and cross-cutting principles to guide the development of innovation-friendly regulation.”
TBS also noted that “no specific funding is provided for participation in Agile Nations projects as departments use existing resources.”
Lewis enquired about the “Digital Credentials” initiative, which deals with the usage of digital ID, in more detail. TBS said that the multilateral project led by Canada, aiming at exploring and testing the use case end-to-end of a digital identification “from the issuance of the digital credentials to a user’s digital wallet to the use of those digital credentials to obtain services and/or complete transactions.”
“Digital credentials are the digital equivalent of paper documents, such as driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and licenses and permits, that can be used to obtain services from the public and private sector, such as social benefits, filing taxes, accessing health records, opening a bank account, trading across borders, or buying a home,” the Treasury Board explained.
The Agile Nations project is spearheaded by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. It seems to be related to the Known Traveller Digital Identity, a WEF project in which Canada also participates.
In Canada, the phase 1 of the project was been completed in the spring of 2022, “including establishing the pilot infrastructure with the selected Canadian small and medium enterprises and developing key digital credential use cases with participants.”
Phase 2, currently underway, includes testing the use of the pilot service with current participants, which are the City of Montreal (for Proof of Address digital credentials) and Bank of Canada (for Know Your Client digital credentials).
The Agile Nations charter, however, is not legally binding. However, it notes that the participating nations are invited to the annual plenary meeting with a rolling host nation who will chair the meeting.
United Kingdom was the first chair of the Agile Nations, succeeded by the current chair, United Arab Emirates.
Recently, Lewis also questioned the so-called “Declaration of North America” in which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and US President Joe Biden signed a pronouncement to fortify the region’s security, prosperity, sustainability and inclusiveness.
“The leaders are determined to fortify our region’s security, prosperity, sustainability and inclusiveness through commitments across six pillars: 1) diversity, equity, and inclusion; 2) climate change and the environment; 3) competitiveness; 4) migration and development; 5) health; and 6) regional security,” the declaration read.
Lewis tweeted saying “Justin Trudeau has stated that Canada is a post-nationalist state with no core identity,” followed by asking “When does Parliament get to weigh in on all these sweeping [international] commitments?”
The Haldimand—Norfolk MP contested Conservative Party leadership both in 2020 and 2022, placing third in both. Lewis is known as the first visible minority woman to run for the federal Conservative Party leadership.
The WEF annual meeting in Davos is set to end on Friday. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Trade Minister Mary Ng have participated in discussion panels.
However, the annual event has also been seen as a sort of gathering for sex workers who fly to the picturesque Swiss resort town, with escort services reportedly recording a high number of bookings and inquiries.
Information for this briefing was found via The Epoch Times and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.