Canada’s G-7 presidency: A ‘progressive agenda’ at risk

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Updated 30 December 2017

Canada’s G-7 presidency: A ‘progressive agenda’ at risk

MONTREAL: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promises a “progressive agenda” for Canada’s G-7 presidency in 2018, but talks may once again hit a snag over climate change after the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement.
For Justin Trudeau, this presidency comes at a time when his government has been struggling with a difficult renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Mexico, which was demanded by US President Donald Trump amid rising American protectionism.
Gender equality, climate change and economic growth “that works for everyone” are among Ottawa’s top priorities for the meeting of the world’s largest advanced economies — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.
Trudeau said in a statement that he wants the talks to focus on “finding real, concrete solutions” to these issues.
The leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations will meet June 8 and 9 at Le Manoir Richelieu in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, a popular tourist destination 150km northeast of Quebec City.
In this idyllic setting between the sea and the mountains, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, global warming once again promises to be a bone of contention, as it was at the last summit in Italy, according to John Kirton, director of the G-7 Research Group at the University of Toronto.
Trump was a climate pariah at the talks in Taormina, announcing days later Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
In an attempt to avoid fresh tensions, Canada has proposed lumping climate change in to a broader discussion that would also include “oceans and clean energy,” according to the prime minister’s office.
Canada “quite properly” framed this segment of the talks around oceans, Kirton told AFP, noting the rise in sea levels and major recent storm damage in the US and the Caribbean.
“Every big city in the United States, except for Chicago, is on a coast,” making them “vulnerable” to climate impacts, he said.
“The mood (in regards to climate) in the United States is changing at the state level and that will quickly move up into Congress as the (2018) midterm elections approach,” Kirton predicted.
“So, (that battle) is not over yet.”
“Trump really likes Trudeau,” added Kirton, suggesting Trudeau has an opening to “find a way to change Trump’s mind” on the Paris Agreement.
Most hope a deal on a new NAFTA will be reached before the G-7 Summit, which would allow Trudeau to focus the discussion on gender and environmental issues while also seeking to sway Trump on climate.
“The only globalization that Trump has been able to stop is by not doing anything more for the United States,” Kirton said, noting the Canada-EU free trade agreement came into force this year.
“The rest of the world is just going on and doing a lot.”
North Korea, which he called the “second-greatest global extinction threat after climate change,” will also be a hot topic for the leaders.
Canada and the US will co-host North Korea crisis talks in Vancouver with foreign ministers from 16 countries in January.
Kirton is also “optimistic” that Canada’s push to include gender parity clauses in trade pacts and security arrangements will bear fruit.
“Ivanka Trump sold her dad on that,” he said.


Five dead, three missing after Jakarta floods

Updated 26 February 2020

Five dead, three missing after Jakarta floods

  • The muddy deluge inundated the presidential palace, a major hospital and entire neighborhoods across Jakarta on Tuesday
  • Floodwaters reached more than a meter (three feet) in some parts of the capital but were receding by Wednesday

JAKARTA: Five people were killed, three more are missing and thousands are unable to return to their waterlogged homes after floods submerged parts of Indonesia’s capital, officials said Wednesday.

The muddy deluge inundated the presidential palace, a major hospital and entire neighborhoods across Jakarta on Tuesday, only weeks after 70 residents of the low-lying megacity died in some of the deadliest flooding in memory.

Two teenagers were among the five people drowned or electrocuted in hard-hit parts of the city, Indonesia’s national disaster agency said.

“The joint rescue team is still searching” for three other possible victims, agency spokesman Agus Wibowo told AFP, adding that nearly 20,000 people were staying in emergency shelters.

Floodwaters reached more than a meter (three feet) in some parts of the capital but were receding by Wednesday, a day after rescuers combed drenched districts in pontoon boats to locate vulnerable residents.

Parts of the city had ground to a halt as thousands of buildings were swamped, sparking power outages and disrupting commuter trains.

Jakarta, a sprawling city beleaguered by massive traffic jams and poor infrastructure, is prone to flooding during the annual wet season.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo last year unveiled plans to relocate the capital to an as yet unbuilt city on Borneo island.