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The Hamilton Spectator
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Wednesday May 6, 2009
Half of Hamilton's councillors won't be attending this week's second economic summit.

Some blame scheduling conflicts, but Councillor Sam Merulla says he won't attend for-profit events organized by lobby groups.

The economic summit is organized by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Jobs Prosperity Collaborative, but is sponsored by the city, the province, McMaster University, Mohawk College and myriad businesses. Sponsorships total about $120,000. It begins Wednesday.

About 200 invitations were sent out to a broad cross-section of community leaders and the event is fast selling out.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger plans to attend all day and councillors Bob Bratina, Chad Collins, Lloyd Ferguson, Tom Jackson, Dave Mitchell, Rob Pasuta and Terry Whitehead are registered.

Eisenberger said the summit is a priority for him because it fosters collaboration.

"The old way was to let council do it all and then sit back and take shots at it. That doesn't work ... we all have a collective responsibility to do our part to lift all boats."

Councillors were given a special fee of $150, less than half the price of the regular $395 cost of registration.

But Merulla says he won't attend because the chamber is a special interest group pushing an agenda that doesn't include social justice or environmental sustainability.

"They should present (the summit) free of charge to councillors and the community. Ideologically, I can't support it." Source.

Councillors, MPs, MPPs give economic summit a miss
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