Harper attends second G8
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:00 p.m. June 7, 2007]
|Prime Minister Stephen Harper spends this
week in Europe where he'll attend his second G8 Summit in
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be out of the country all this week as he
spends five days in Europe for the G8 Summit.
The agendas of the last two G8 summits were derailed after
the subway bombing in London in 2005 and the war between Israel and
Hezbollah last year.
Senior government officials told reporters last week that the two
major themes scheduled to dominate this year's summit in Heiligendamm,
Germany will be the issues surrounding climate change and
Africa, including the situation in Darfur.
No doubt climate change will be the issue that will attract the most
On Monday, Harper tried to get Canada's message out ahead of the
summit during a speech to a German-Canadian business group in
While Canada has admitted it will not meet its 2012 Kyoto targets,
the prime minister's speech sent the message that Canada was still
committed to long-term reductions, like other European members of
Harper, who the opposition Liberals have often called a
"climate-change denier," told the business audience that
climate change was "perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today."
"The countries that did accept targets under Kyoto account for less than
30 per cent of global emissions," he said. "The outsiders included major, growing emitters like China, India and the United States.
Obviously, if we really want to stop climate change, all the big emitters need to step up to the plate and must accept real targets."
That will be the prime minister's message at this year's summit on
climate change, in addition to his reminder that other countries
must recognized Canada's special and unique position as an energy
super power with a growing economy.
"Our environment plan is new," Sandra Buckler, the prime
minister's director of communications, told reporters last week.
"It's a Canadian initiative and we'll be bringing it to the summit."
"We have our plan. We don't have the German plan, we don't have the American plan. We have the Canadian plan."
Canada is putting such an emphasis on climate change at this year's
summit that Environment Minister John Baird is the only
cabinet minister who is accompanying the PM for the week.
Although it's not on the official agenda, a senior government
official told reporters last week that Canada plans to raise the
issue of Afghanistan at the summit during "broader
discussions" with other world leaders.
In particular, Canada is looking for international help to improve
economic relations and border issues between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"For Canada we will be looking to have a meaningful discussion on
Afghanistan," the official said. "Getting beyond regional tensions, getting to a more productive dialogue between Afghanistan and
Also expected to be discussed in these broader discussions will be
counter-terrorism, dismantling the former Soviet Union's nuclear
stockpile Iran, the Middle East and North Korea.
In addition to the G8 countries -- U.S., Canada, UK,
France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan
-- leaders from five other emerging powers -- China, India,
Brazil, Mexico and South Africa -- will also
take part in the second day of the summit.
Harper also participated in the Canada-EU Summit in Berlin on Monday
and met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
On Tuesday, Harper will make a quick trip to France for his first
face-to-face meeting with newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Although the two men have never met, senior government officials
said they already have a "warm and cordial relationship" based on phone
The G8 Summit begins Wednesday with an informal leaders' dinner and
continues through Thursday and Friday.
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