Stephen Harper had hardly every stepped outside of his native Canada when, in the first few months as Canada’s prime minister, he found himself flying to St. Petersburg for his first G8 summit. This week, Harper will return to St. Petersburg for the annual summit of G20 leaders.
In our papers on Saturday and here on this blog, I wrote about Russian President Vladimir Putin, who I believe to be an anti-democratic despot with little concern for respecting the rule of law or upholding universal human rights. Many readers agreed but some did not. Here’s a lightly edited pair of responses which were typical of those who disagreed:
Citiing unnamed G20 officials, the Times indicated that the G20 was ready to convince an emergency forum after the U.S. Department of Agriculture slashed its latest corn crop estimates last Friday. The Times did not mention Canada specifically but, of course, as one of the leading G20 economies and as one of the world’s largest food producers, Canada would be keenly interested and, presumably, involved in these discussions. Continue reading As food prices skyrocket, "feeble" G20 considers talking about it
Here at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, European leaders are making the claim that the credibility of the G20 is at stake if G20 members don’t step and kick in to a US$430 billion International Monetary Fund to help Europe sort out its fiscal crisis. So far, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada will not contribute to such a fund. He believes that Europe has enough financial firepower of its own to deal with the euro crisis.
This morning, European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy held a press conference to make that claim — that they expect the G20, including Canada, to do its part to help Europe out of its mess.
During the question period, I put this question to those two gentlemen:
Why should North Americans risk their assets to help the largest and one of the wealthiest economic areas in the world? Shouldn’t IMF resources be used to help out developing countries and not the richest economic area in the world? What do you make of Prime Minister Harper’s contention that Europe has enough financial firepower on its own to deal with this crisis?
And, to Mr.Van Rompuy, you mentioned the credibility of the G20 is at stake as it considers whether to pledge billions to the IMF fund for Europe. Wouldn’t he say that the credibility of European leaders is at stake given you’ve had four years to fix this crisis and you still don’t have clear long-term plans?
Apparently I struck a chord. Here’s their responses: