Skip to content

Leaked G8 communique further proof of need to ‘scrap the summits’

What will the billion dollar G8 and G20 summits produce?

Not much, and certainly not what is needed.

The Canadian Press reports today that, “A leaked draft of the final communiqué for the upcoming G8 summit suggests Canada has dodged a bullet on the thorny issues of abortion and climate change.”

“The draft, obtained by The Canadian Press, says the world’s most powerful countries are prepared to throw money at ‘all factors’ affecting the health of women and children in poor countries but doesn’t specifically mention abortion.”

The Globe and Mail reports, “An annex to the draft, outlining the maternal health plan, says the initiative includes other elements (and lists) clean water,” but provides no further details or spending commitments.

“There is no agreement yet on specific funding for the maternal initiative, climate change, food security or aid to developing countries, despite strong words urging concrete measures.”

“Sources have told The Canadian Press that Canada is willing to put up about $1 billion as long as other countries contribute as well. But in the draft communiqué, the total amount is still just an X.”

The CBC reported last week that this $1 billion pledge is less than the cost of the summits and “it’s also far less than the $2 billion over five years that the United Nations’ children’s fund has said is necessary for Canada to make a meaningful difference in the health of poor mothers.”

The Canadain Press reports notes, “On the environment, the only thing G8 negotiators have apparently agreed to is that fighting climate change shouldn’t hurt countries’ economies — a position the Harper government has been pushing.”

“The draft also talks about the importance of keeping the G8 as a leader in international affairs despite the rising prevalence of the broader G20 — another Harper position. It defines the G20 as a body to deal with economic issues.”

Additionally, the Globe and Mail reports that, “Canada has won a key fight in its high-profile international campaign against a global bank tax as G20 finance ministers approved (in a communique) a plan that allows countries to manage the issue as they see fit.”

With a billion dollar-plus price tag, infringements of basic civil liberties, massive disruptions for those who live in Toronto, and a ‘business as usual’ agenda that serves neither people nor the planet, the Council of Canadians is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to scrap the upcoming G8 and G20 summits.

As Canadians already know, the prime minister must now also acknowledge that a billion dollars could be better spent on any number of urgent international priorities, such as providing access to clean drinking water worldwide.

Given the overall costs, and the 16 hours of formal and informal meetings that are planned, the bill comes in at about $75 million per hour for these summits.

In that a child dies every 8 seconds from drinking dirty water, during the G8/G20 weekend, 21,600 children will die because they have been denied the fundamental human right to clean water. The billion dollars being spent on the summits would save those children and millions more.

The place for national leaders to meet is not in behind barbed wire fences in small groups of eight or twenty, but rather in the General Assembly at the United Nations. That’s what the United Nations was created for, and it has the buildings, infrastructure and appropriate security in place for gatherings of world leaders.

It is our belief that these G-192 meetings should also include a true dialogue with broader civil society. The narrower corporate interests should not have the kind of exclusive privileged access that they now enjoy. Read more about what the B20 (the Business 20) will be saying to the G20 finance ministers in Toronto at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3763.

Write the prime minister, your Member of Parliament, your local newspaper, and say that it’s time to ’scrap the summits’.

Our ‘scrap the summits!’ action alert is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=3761.