Today marks transition from G8 to G20; Harper under pressure to prove G8s worth

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Out with the old and in with the new.
Today brings to an end the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont., where the well-established group of leaders is discussing nuclear proliferation, peace, security and development at a rustic resort in the pouring rain.
The day also marks the start of the G20 summit in Toronto, where advanced and rising powers alike need to deal with serious challenges in crafting a long-term plan for economic stability.
The G8 summit, which began midday Friday, will wrap up with a final news conference from Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the early afternoon. Then, the leaders will helicopter down to Toronto for their second summit, the G20, which ends late afternoon tomorrow.
For Harper, the G8 summit got off to a promising start on Friday, when he announced that he had raised $5 billion from the G8 for maternal and child health in poor countries, and another $2 billion from countries and foundations outside the G8.
Aid groups panned the announcement, saying the amount of money was pitiful compared to what is needed to improve maternal and child health.
But insiders say Harper never aspired to more than that, given the fiscal straits many of the G8 countries are in right now.
Harper has frequently argued that the G8 deserves to live a long life, even though the G20 has clearly taken the helm in global economics. That's because the prime minister sees the G8 as a club of like-minded countries, where Canada can punch above its weight.
Other country leaders are not convinced, however, that the G8 is still in its prime. So Harper will be under pressure to show solid results this morning as he wraps up the G8, to prove to the world that it is an effective and productive organization worth maintaining.
The G8 leaders hope to see eye to eye on what steps they should take on Iran's nuclear ambitions, trouble in fragile states such as Afghanistan and Yemen, and the clash with North Korea.
Discussions will be even trickier once the G8 joins emerging market countries for the G20 summit at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Upon landing in Toronto, the world leaders will likely be greeted by massive protests, huge barriers around the summit site, and thousands upon thousands of security officers and police.
Business executives are holding their own parallel summit today, and will meet with finance ministers and Harper to share their views on economic recovery.
The leaders, the business executives, finance ministers, top negotiators and leaders' spouses will be holding separate dinners tonight at the stately Royal York Hotel.
Dining aside, the leaders will also have some heavy negotiating to do, in order to agree on solid goals that will encourage economic recovery and prevent future financial crises.
Sources have said the G20 is floundering in its quest to find common ground on how best to rebalance the global economy, how best to strengthen financial institutions, how to handle climate change, and whether international development should be incorporated into the group's agenda.
Harper is urging advanced but indebted countries in the G20 to commit to halving their deficits within three years' time.
Sources say that target will likely be written in the summit's final communique, but many countries believe it's not tough enough, while others think it may be too stringent.

Organizations: Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Geographic location: Toronto, Huntsville, Canada Iran Afghanistan Yemen North Korea

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  • Lloyd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Seems to me that more firmly establishing the G20 should make the G8 pretty much redundant. A G20 is much more representative of the world than the G8 and should be much more efficient at solving some of the problems, if in fact it is about that. Or does the G8 hope to perhaps have more control, unofficially, regarding G20 directions?
    Seems you'd also save a few Billion, over time, with security that clearly would be better spent on current and future problems.

  • Lloyd
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Seems to me that more firmly establishing the G20 should make the G8 pretty much redundant. A G20 is much more representative of the world than the G8 and should be much more efficient at solving some of the problems, if in fact it is about that. Or does the G8 hope to perhaps have more control, unofficially, regarding G20 directions?
    Seems you'd also save a few Billion, over time, with security that clearly would be better spent on current and future problems.