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UPDATE: The Council counters the G20 agenda on trade

The G8 will be meeting in Huntsville on June 25-26, followed by the G20 meeting in Toronto on June 26-27.

What will be on the agenda?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, “As hosts, our government will have considerable say over the agenda. It will be a tremendous opportunity to promote Canada’s values and interests; to advocate for open markets and trade opportunities; to assist on global action against global warming; and to champion values like freedom, democracy and human rights and the rule of law.”

The Council of Canadians believes that the G8 and G20 will be promoting a ‘business as usual’ agenda rather than what is needed, namely trade, climate and water justice.

The G8, as well as the G5 countries of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, have already committed themselves to reaching an ‘ambitious and balanced’ conclusion to the Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations in 2010.

We have been highly critical of the WTO agenda backed by the G8 and G20, and in particular the Doha round of talks. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, “Economic globalization, led by the rich countries and their corporations, and the notion of unlimited growth behind the WTO is killing the world. Policies and institutions that promote endless growth and trade must end. The only way out of the ecological crisis the world faces is a different way of living, where trade and the economy serve communities, not the other way around. Sustainable trade and economic policies must prevail.”

Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders has also written that Canadian and European officials are hoping for “a major push” at the G8 summit for the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. The Council of Canadians opposes this agreement that is said to be bigger in scope than NAFTA.

We have said that an agreement with the European Union would put pressure on provincial governments to privatize public services, including in areas such as water, transportation, child care and public health care. We are actively campaigning to stop this deal before negotiations can conclude in 2011.

The Council of Canadians
In Huntsville we will be facing a $6-million galvanized metal fence that will stretch 15-kilometres around the summit site. In Toronto, it is expected that the convention centre will be surrounded by a 4-metre high steel and concrete fence, with military helicopters overhead and sharpshooters on rooftops (as was the case with the G7 summit there in 1988). Thousands of reporters from around the world are expected to converge to report on the summits from their base at the Congress Centre near Toronto’s international airport.

So far, our plans include holding a protest in Huntsville on Friday June 25 and a major public forum with Maude Barlow and other high-profile international speakers at Convocation Hall in Toronto that evening. We will take part in a major family-friendly march against the G20 on the afternoon of Saturday June 26. We will also be participating in workshops and forums at the Peoples Summit taking place in Toronto the weekend of June 18-20. We also expect to be raising our concerns when the G8 foreign ministers meet at the Château Cartier in Gatineau, Quebec on March 29-30.

Next – the G20 and water.