SASKATOON – Brett Wilson fired off a strongly worded tweet last Friday over the terrorist attacks in Paris. The entrepreneur and philanthropist said it’s been on his mind – but so has the larger problem.
“The horror and atrocity of what happened in Paris bothers me, but what also bothers me is that other similar acts aren’t getting the headlines,” he told Global News.
I hope there is a hell. For terrorists to rot in.
— * W. Brett Wilson * (@WBrettWilson) November 14, 2015
“Not to take away from what happened in Paris, I have friends living in Paris, I was as worried as anyone at the time, but what happened in Baghdad, what happens in many nations around the world we sort of treat it as if, that’s what happens there … and that’s one of the complacency mistakes we are making,” he added.
“Paris may be a wake-up call, but this isn’t the first one. We need to deal with terrorism.”
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Wilson believes part of the solution is military action – but it shouldn’t stop there.
“There’s little room for negotiation,” he said. “We need to cut this multi-headed hydra off at every level possible, so I happen to be a fan of military intervention in this, but we also have to think long and hard about what causes people to radicalize,” he said.
“If that’s all that we do, we cut off the tree and now saplings come up in other areas, we haven’t really solved the problem – we need to get into the psychology of the issue.”
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On the business front, he thinks western Canada is in for at least one more difficult year before things get better.
“I’m an optimist on where we’re going long term,” he said. “Unfortunately long term for me is now three or four years. This is a fairly painful cycle, 2015 has been difficult, the oil patch has been contracting, capital expenditures contracting – I think (2015) is a precursor … 2016 doesn’t look very good,” he said.
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Wilson was in Saskatoon for the annual pitch party, where young entrepreneurs get the chance to present business ideas. On that front he was very optimistic. The winning pitch was by Hanes Hummus, and Wilson said he was impressed.
“The best pitch was Hanes – a young guy who has some of the best hummus I have ever tasted,” he said. He was also impressed by another young entrepreneur who has come up with a very high pressure water pump that could be used for fighting forest fires.
“That’s something I’m going to take an honest, legitimate business look at,” he said.
He was also attending the opening of the Hillberg and Berk jewelry store in Saskatoon – a company he invested in after meeting founder Rachel Mielke.
“It’s an extraordinary success story,” he said. “Nobody ever anticipated Saskatchewan would be a hotbed of jewelry manufacturing.”
In 2013 the company was commissioned to design a brooch for Queen Elizabeth, and the monarch has worn it publicly several times.
“We have a brooch made in Regina, Saskatchewan, conceived, manufactured, made, that the Queen has worn a number of times … this is a woman who never wears anything twice, but our brooch keeps showing up,” said Wilson.
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Other high profile people who have worn the company’s jewelry include Michelle Obama, Celine Dion and Barbara Walters.
“Rachel’s killing it – we employ over 100 women in this province right now,” said Wilson.