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June 16, 2010

The Canadian Charger will be at the G20

The Canadian Charger

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The Canadian Charger will be at the G20 next week in Toronto to report on issues that affect people's lives.

In accordance with the Recovery and New Beginnings theme for the G20 Summit in Toronto, June 26-27, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said G20 leaders will focus on sovereign debt and financial reforms, because the global recovery is still suspect.

Meanwhile, Mr. Harper has indicated that the financial recovery with be at the top of the G20 agenda.

“With the fragile global economic recovery hanging in the balance, it is crucial that we build consensus at the summit on reform of the financial sector, control of sovereign debt, and the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth over the long term," Mr. Harper said.

Prime Minister Harper will host a meeting of leaders from the G20 leading developed and developing nations, immediately after the G8 summit in Huntsville, June 25-26.

After designating the G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation, during the summit in Pittsburgh, last September, the agenda this year will be dominated by financial regulatory reform, the euro zone's debt troubles and a co-ordinated approach for global growth, aimed at preventing the imbalances that contributed to the crisis.

However, Mr. Harper continues to reject proposals for taxes on bank transactions and tighter regulations, which the U.S., France and Brittan are proposing. 

“Canada's banking regulations strike the right balance between controlling bad behaviour and allowing financial institutions freedom to grow,” he said.

While Mr. Harper has repeatedly emphasized that he intends to make maternal and child health care a priority at the G20 Summit, he disagrees with many other world leaders, as well as health care professionals, about funding abortions in foreign countries, regardless of circumstances.

The Royal Society of Canada and the national academies of Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia have issued a joint statement calling on G20 leaders to ensure that contraception and “measures to reduce unsafe abortions” are put on the G20 agenda. Leading scientists and academics agree that botched abortions cannot be ignored because they cause 13 per cent of maternal deaths, nearly one in seven.

Climate change, sustainable agriculture, and nuclear safety are common issues of discussion at G20 Summits; and will be again this year, although there is still no climate treaty to succeed Kyoto, no agricultural plan to feed the needy and the UN recently said Iran has enough enriched uranium to build two bombs.

Protesters from over 150 non-governmental organizations (NGO), trade unions and environmental organizations will focus on government economic policies which bail out the rich and powerful with taxpayers' money, while neglecting to provide sustainable employment for millions. 

Anger at the banking system and bankers' remuneration and bonuses will be high on their agenda, as well as the war on terror, with the ubiquitous violations of civil liberties that seem to go along with it. Climate change will again be on the agenda, as it has been for a number of years, without discernable results.

After witnessing intense clashes between protesters and police at previous summits, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is calling for independent and neutral observers who are not associated with demonstrators or law enforcement.

The CCLA says the monitors will be tasked with recording everything, including instances of police misconduct or inappropriate government restrictions that violate civil liberties. As CCLA project director Abby Deshman explains, human rights monitors can be extremely useful, not only to provide an independent record of events but to also serve as a deterrent for improper law enforcement.

Canada supported the creation of the G20, in part, because it wanted to see a broader consultative structure that was more formalized, linked to other institutions, and less controlled by the U.S. and its preferences.

When the issues are very serious and action is required, the G20 leaders are called upon. When deals on global trade are made, China, India and Brazil will negotiate with the EU and the U.S.

G20 leaders realize they must negotiate with China - now the third largest economy in the world - on issues of global trade and finance and fighting global poverty.

The UN will be there to provide a voice for the billions of people who live in abject poverty, often with none of their government leaders at the G20 summits. The Toronto G20 Summit will be the fifth.

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M. Elmasry

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