Hosting the world on Canadian soil
TORONTO, ON— From June 25 to 27, Canada played host to the world’s largest economic powerhouses in back-to-back G8 and G20 meetings – a move which confirmed suspicions of a world order in flux.
In the days leading up to the twinned summits, the media honed in on the event’s billion-dollar security price tag and lavish niceties for the international press. During the closely guarded talks, however, stories of peaceful demonstrations turned sour consumed the headlines. Nonetheless, tales of Toronto’s tumultuous streets were reduced to that of a circus sideshow as concluding G20 press conferences got underway.
Late Sunday evening, as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama addressed media at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the public was finally afforded a glimpse of just what the elite club had been up to.
During the concluding press conference, Harper spoke of the group’s successes since the November 2009 Pittsburgh Summit, as well as established firm targets for the November 2010 summit in Seoul.
Behind the closed doors and shielded from the media’s glare, Harper said that the leaders had agreed to a “50 per cent debt reduction by 2013 and a debt-to-GDP ratio that should be on a downward trend by 2016.” On the controversial topic of bank levies, he explained that such a decision would be left to the discretion of individual countries – to the joy of Canadian bankers.
In the news conference that followed, Obama reiterated the group’s progress and, in response to renewed fears of economic collapse, he assured that “we have pulled ourselves back from the brink.”
However, the diverse nature of the G20 member countries ensured that agreement in the boardroom was no easy feat. Today, while the United States is targeting soaring unemployment levels, Germany and France lobby for greater financial regulation. As Japan struggles to pay down its deficit, Britain’s newly elected Prime Minister tries to quell fears of minority rule in the United Kingdom. Echoing this very sentiment, Obama admitted that for G20 countries, “our challenges are as diverse as our nations.” Nonetheless, he explained that as “a financial crisis for one country can have consequences far beyond its borders,” the world’s economic powers must work together.
“History teaches us that growth and prosperity is never guaranteed,” Obama furthered, “it requires constant effort and it requires specific leadership.”
As the three-day world summit marathon drew to a close this Sunday, Canada appeared quite comfortable in its new position of power. Interestingly, Canada’s hosting of the G8 and G20 Summits came at a time when the country is uniquely poised in relation to its global peers.
Throughout the summits, the country was hailed as a shining success story – a testament to the Canadian economy’s resilience in the face of last year’s global economic crisis. In fact, as it stands today, Canada continues to lead the G8 in achieving growth as the global economy recovers.
The G20, according to Obama, is now the premier forum for international economic cooperation. “We represent East and West, North and South, advanced economies and those still emerging,” he said. Together, the G20 also represents 85 per cent of the global economy. In November 2010, the group will reconvene in Seoul, South Korea.