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From Köln 1999 to Okinawa 2000

Country Performance Assessment

Canada: Score B-

The Year 2000 G8 Okinawa Summit will perhaps be known as the Summit without a purpose. The atmosphere at this year's sumit lacked the urgency that had characterized so many other of these meetings, as there was not a singular pressing crisis which demanded the attention of the leaders of the top eight indutrial countries in the world. This lack of urgency actually may have created a new concept of summitry, in which the agenda would be crisis prevention rather than crisis reaction. It has afforded the leaders to be more reflective in their discussions, and according to a senior official with the Canadian government, the discussions often turned to the philosophical. The G8 Communique Okinawa 2000 is a broad based document, outlining many of the issued that were addressed among the leaders at their leisure. Canada into itself was not overly successful in having acheived the few objectives that it had desired nor in taking any initiative in any of the new issues .

Debt Relief

The dominant objective of Canada at this year's summit was to acheive consensus among his G8 counterparts to expand upon the goals of debt relief that had been set out in the Cologne Debt Initiative and to take a leadership role in the next step of assistance to developing countries. Although Canada had wished to expand the amount of debt relief offered to developing countries, it was frustrated in its attempts to do so. The lack of compliance by the majority of the G8 members to the goals set out at Cologne was a hindrance to Canada's efforts to establish new, further reaching relief goals. Also, the ineligibility of as many as fifteen of the thirty-five identified countries Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) to the relief due to internal conflict or other issues in direct conflict with gorvernence standards which prevented their acceptance to the program.

Ultimately, Canada had to accept a re-commitment by its counterparts to fulfill last year's commitments. Although Canada was successful with the reaffirmation by the G8 to last year's goals being acheived by the end of this year, it was frustrated by the slow pace at which the debt relief was actually being received by developing countries and by the inability to continue to expand the goals in this area.

Food Safety

Food safety has increasingly become a dominant issue in the international fora. While genetically engineered foods have helped increase the productivity level of food producers, events such as the so-called "mad cow disease" in England have raised questions as to where the line is to be drawn. As a country which has enjoyed an increase in its productivity due to genetic engineering technology, the welcoming of further involvement of the OECD in the regulation of these activities does not work in the interest of Canada. The welcoming of increased regulation and the tightening of boarders to genetically enhanced foods does not bode well for the Canadian agriculture sector as their activities will beexamined with much greater scrutiny, to the end that it may hurt the export of these foods to other countries. The robust enthusiasm which characterizes the tone of the statement regarding the OECD signals a strong defeat for Canada on this issue.

Information Technology

The introduction of Information Technology at this year's summit by the host country offered a montrous opportunity for one of the countries to step in and take a leadership role. Although the leaders produced the visionary Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society, which broadly introduced the creation of the Digital Opportunity Taskforce (dot force), it was not coupled with strong leadership from any of the participants of the Summit.

Despite being recognized as one of the more technology advanced countries at the G8, Canada did little to offer initiative or leadership in regards to ensuring that developing countries receive the assistance, advisory or monetary, necessary to fulfill the objectves set out in the Charter. It would have been a credit to Canada to have taken a stand in regards to this issue. In considering the level of education, prosperity and technology that exists for the Canadian population, it would seem to have been a natural role for Canada to insist upon discussions regarding how developing countries without the infrastructure to support clean water would be able to support the new age of technology or to address the funding issue of the new ambitions of the dot force.

Overall, the performance of Canada at this year's G8 summit was weak in comparison to some of its counterparts. The Cinderella story of Russia, as well as the success of Japan in conducting a successful summit far overshadowed the lackluster performance of Canada.

Report compiled by: Colleen McShane

G8 Centre
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