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Trudeau promotes ‘free trade’ at G7 in Italy, prepares to host 2018 summit at Quebec resort

Trudeau will host U.S. President Donald Trump and other G7 leaders at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, which is situated on the St. Lawrence River, in May-June 2018.

The Canadian Press reports, “Canada will play host to next year’s meeting of G7 leaders at a remote luxury resort in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, The Canadian Press has learned. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make the announcement at some point during this year’s G7 meetings, which get underway Friday in Sicily.”

Another Canadian Press news article this morning adds, “Canada will be hosting the G7 summit next year and an official says Trudeau is expected to make inclusive growth and gender equality the major themes of the gathering at a remote luxury resort in the Charlevoix region of Quebec.”

That article also notes, “Canada is planning to champion the benefits of free trade and action on climate change at the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, even as U.S. President Donald Trump tries to steer the world in another direction. A senior Canadian government official with intimate knowledge of the negotiations says the Paris Agreement on the fight against climate change, which Trump might back out of, and international trade remain major sticking points that will likely keep talks going through the night. The official noted there are also likely to be gaps between the leaders on migration policy, particularly when it intersects with the issue of international security.”

This underscores that the Trudeau government continues to fail to see that ‘free trade’ deals (like NAFTA, CETA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a Canada-China FTA) are obstacles to taking action on climate change – and that G7 leaders are not adequately acknowledging that climate change is a major cause of migration in the world.

In February 2016, the Council of Canadians, Friends of the Earth Europe, Food & Water Watch, the Transnational Institute and nine other groups based in the European Union and the United States released an 8-page briefing paper titled Oil Corporations Vs. Climate: How investors use trade agreements to undermine climate action.

That paper highlighted, “In order to tackle the climate crisis, the U.S., EU, Canada and other countries need to reject ‘VIP’ treatment for corporations and say no to any trade agreement that includes special rights for foreign investors. Doing so is critical in the fight to protect our communities, our democracy, and our climate.”

And as far back as 2008, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that between 250 million and one billion people could lose their homes by 2050 as a result of climate change. The UNHCR deputy high commissioner Craig Johnstone has said the world will face a “global-scale emergency” due to climate change-impacted migration. And the Independent has reported, “Hundreds of millions could be forced to go on the move because of water shortages and crop failures in most of Africa, as well as in central and southern Asia and South America.”

It is also widely acknowledged that climate change was a contributory factor to the mass migration from Syria. George Monbiot has written, “One of the likely catalysts for the 2011 uprising in Syria was a massive drought – the worst in the region in the instrumental record – that lasted from 2006 to 2010. It caused the emigration of one and a half million rural workers into Syrian cities, and generated furious resentment when Bashar al-Assad’s government failed to respond effectively. Climate models suggest that manmade global warming more than doubled the likelihood of a drought of this magnitude.”

As for Trudeau wanting to focus on “inclusive growth” at next year’s G7 summit, Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom has previously observed that Trudeau presents “neo-liberalism with a human face”. Walkom explains Trudeau is pursuing basically the same policies as former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, but attempting to frame them in a “more acceptable manner”.

For example, while Trudeau continues to champion the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a Tufts University study found that CETA would transfer 1.74 per cent of national income from labour to capital (meaning any economic gains will flow overwhelmingly to owners of capital rather than to workers), that it will result in a net loss of 23,000 jobs in Canada in the first seven years of being in effect, and that due to rising inequality and unemployment the average income in Canada is projected to fall by $2,650 by 2023.

The Council of Canadians will be highlighting these concerns when it organizes against the G7 summit in Quebec next year. We have also called for the exclusive and costly G7 summits to be scrapped and for national leaders to meet instead in the more democratic forum of the G193, otherwise known as the United Nations General Assembly.