Phelps cautions Whistler of U.S. dollar woes 

Former Westcoat Energy CEO gives cautionary tale

By Bob Barnett

Although he calls himself “less pessimistic” about the economy than many others, Michael Phelps sees a weak U.S. dollar as a possible brake on Whistler’s economy.

The U.S. dollar is “one thing for Whistler that is going to drive economic prospects,” Phelps told a gathering at Dusty’s Friday morning for the kick-off of the 2006-07 Leadership Sea to Sky cohort.

“I think the U.S. dollar is going to fall further,” Phelps, chairman of Dornoch Capital Inc. and former chairman and CEO of Westcoast Energy, said. But he added interest rates should then come down.

A part-time resident of Whistler for the past 23 years, Phelps spoke about leadership, the pace of change around the world and future prospects for peace in the Middle East.

He also urged caution regarding the 2010 Winter Olympics.

“It’s important for the corridor not to put too much emphasis on 2010,” said Phelps, who is a board member of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. “It’s important, but there are other things going on.”

On terrorism, Phelps said he doesn’t see any solution in the next three-four years, but beyond that timeline he is more optimistic.

“A lot of terrorism stems from Palestine,” he said. If issues in Palestine are resolved the situation will change.

“I think there will be solutions in the future.”

Before the 17 members of the 2006-07 Leadership cohort were introduced, Phelps spoke about leadership in the context of a rapidly changing world.

To be a leader, Phelps said, requires an understanding of one’s community but also an understanding of the diversity of Canada and the world.

“Everybody’s on the move,” he said. “The world is currently in the middle of the largest migration in history.”

Phelps said: “leadership starts and ends with communication skills,” which includes being sensitive to differences of gender.

“Nothing stays the same for very long anymore. The speed of change is so much faster than it used to be,” Phelps said, adding that global migration patterns can change significantly in 24 months. And that can have an impact on the tourism industry.

“Have more than one option,” he concluded.

• • •

In collaboration with Leadership Canada, Leadership Sea to Sky develops the leadership capabilities of participants who care about the community, who understand the strengths and weaknesses and who are willing to mke a personal investment to improve the quality of life in the Sea to Sky corridor.

The participants in the Leadership Sea to Sky cohort for 2006-07 are:

Kathy Bennett, Gregory Bikadi, Maxine Bruce, Neil Edwards, Heather Evans, Sheena Fraser, Ann Marie Gallop, Kai Kaila, Brad Kasselman, Christine Kenny, Deanna Lewis, Tracy Morgan, David Rector, Tim Schoahs, Alison Taylor, Shan Trouton, Veronica Woodruff and two others still to be named.

The honorary chairs this year are Don and Isobel MacLaurin.

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