Expect Significant Delays

26 Jun

(photo by ENIAN)

Did I get this right? Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s principle achievement at the G8/G20 Summit yesterday was getting his pampered guests to throw a further $2.7 billion into his very personal maternal health initiative – but it cost us $1.25 billion to have then come here to do so?

I won’t go into how absurd this spending has been. The majority of it has been for intelligence-insulting security measures, but I can’t help compare the situation to the last summit I attended, back in 2001 in Quebec City. There, all kinds of interesting events, lectures and meeting were set up by protest organizers. And while these have been largely missing from this summit protest, it’s not all that surprising considering that the entire campus of the University of Toronto – a natural venue for such events – has been shut down.

Back to my main point, the Canadian media can’t stop harping about Harper’s big success. Foreign media, like the Guardian, have been more circumspect, noting that “this summit could omit all mention of the promises made at Gleneagles in 2005. As the OECD revealed, rich countries are well off-track to hit the 2010 targets, with less than half of the $25 bn a year for Africa delivered.

That kind of puts the $5 billion garnered here into perspective.  The much-ballyhooed buy-in to Harper’s pet project may well be far less when it comes to actually making good on the cash.

It’s clear that the summit’s main announcement so far has been nothing but a glorified and ridiculously expensive photo-op. The real substance of the meeting, how to deal with conflicting views over the economic problems facing Europe, are not at all likely to find consensus.

And finally, a word on the laughable time-killer organized by the Harper government for the ‘ladies’ – a lesson in canoe-making and native beading techniques. They really couldn’t think of anything more interesting for leaders’ spouses to do? ( Like talk about world issues themselves?) It’s as if they really had to tear themselves away from the notion of them making their men their dinners that evening. No wonder Michelle Obama — not to mention Angela Merkel’s husband — decided to give this trip a pass.

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