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Cablegate: Canadian Prime Minister Lays Out G8, G20 Priorities

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ECON ETRD CA
SUBJECT: CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER LAYS OUT G8, G20 PRIORITIES

REF: OTTAWA 100

1. (SBU) Summary: In Davos, Canadian Prime Minister Harper set out
his agenda as host of the June 2010 G8 and G20 summits, focusing
primarily on financial sector reform, stimulus programs, and global
trade and growth. He also underscored a continued important role
for the G8 and its "close cooperation of friends and like-minded
allies" in promoting democracy, development, peace, and security,
and reiterated his intention to launch a major initiative to
improve maternal and child health in the developing world (reftel).
At home, his party's poll numbers continue to slide. End summary.

"REAL RESULTS" OVER "LOFTY PROMISES"

2. (U) Prime Minister Stephen Harper outlined his priorities as
host of G8 and G20 summits in Muskoka (Huntsville) and Toronto,
Ontario in June in a keynote address to the World Economic Forum in
Davos on January 28. He identified financial sector reform,
stimulus programs, and global trade and growth as priority areas
for the G20 under the theme "Recovery and New Beginnings." The PM
pledged that Canada would use its leadership role at both the G8
and G20 summits to focus on global challenges, push for "real
results" over "lofty promises." The following is a link to the
full speech: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media.asp?id=3096

G8 LEADERSHIP IN DEMOCRACY, DEVELOPMENT AND SECURITY

3. (U) In his keynote address, PM Harper underscored a continued
important global role for the G8 in promoting democracy,
development, and peace and security. He argued that the G8 should
show leadership in combating the "daunting threats" of terrorism,
piracy, climate change, and nuclear proliferation, which required
"the close cooperation of friends and like-minded allies." He
pressed the G8 to live up to commitments on foreign aid, noting
that Canada had already doubled its aid to Africa and was "on
track" to double foreign aid in 2010. He called for a new G8 focus
on maternal and child health in the world's poorest regions, a plan
he had first outlined at home on January 26 (reftel). He stated
that Canada had "indications" that "some" other G8 partners "share
and are receptive" to this proposal. Underscoring that it was
"time to mobilize," he called on G8 partners to demonstrate a
"unity of purpose" and to "replace grand good intentions with
substantive acts of human good will." He insisted that
"accountability...is the prerequisite for progress."

FINANCIAL REFORM, STIMULUS AND TRADE

4. (U) For the G20, PM Harper highlighted financial sector
reform, the continued need for stimulus programs, and enhancing
global trade and growth. He praised the "Canada Advantage" of a
stable national financial sector, and supported the need to
strengthen financial regulation, while warning against "punitive"
and "arbitrary" bank regulation. He advocated national standards
subject to international peer review. Arguing that the global
economic recovery remained "a mile wide and an inch thick," he
counseled the need to stay the course on stimulus programs, while
cautioning that it was not too early to start thinking of an "exit
strategy." PM Harper underscored the importance of avoiding
protectionism as central to economic growth and eliminating
poverty. He called for states to exercise "enlightened
sovereignty" -- "the "natural extension of enlightened
self-interest" - and for "practical, durable solutions." He noted
that the G20 meeting in Toronto should be "less about new
agreements than accountability for existing ones."

POLITICAL CHALLENGES AT HOME

5. (U) PM Harper's focus on the global economy coincided with the
release of three national polls that pegged the ruling Conservative
Party in a virtual tie with the Official Opposition Liberal Party,
at between 31 and 33 percent of voters. Throughout the early fall,
the Conservatives had enjoyed as much as a ten-point lead over the
Liberals. However, Conservative support began to slip in November
over allegations that the government knew of possible mistreatment
of Afghan detainees turned over by Canadian Forces to Afghan
authorities, and fell sharply after PM Harper convinced the
Governor General to prorogue (suspend) Parliament in late December
(for the second time in a year) until March 3. All three
opposition parties have alleged that the government acted primarily
to shut down parliamentary hearings on the detainee issue.

COMMENT

6. (SBU) PMr Harper has set down some markers for his broad
economic agenda, looking ahead to the federal budget in March and
to key G8 and G20 objectives. He is using Canada's relative
financial sector health to stake out a position of economic
leadership globally. He may try to use this to reinforce Canada's
position in the G8, even as others look increasingly to the G20 for
coordination on global issues. End comment.
JACOBSON

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