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A Safer World for All:
The Gatineau G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting

Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
March 20, 2010

The world will turn its gaze on Canada in 2010. We have hosted the most successful Winter Olympic Games in our history and we are now welcoming participants in the Paralympic Games. Canada is also hosting the G-8 and G-20 summits this year. We plan to use these two summits to continue playing a leadership role on issues of importance to Canadians and to reach a consensus on common global issues.

The security of Canadians, whether at home or abroad, is affected by what happens beyond our borders. Our security depends on our ability to address threats from conflict, terrrorism, nuclear proliferation, organized crime, and illicit trafficking of drugs and people.

That is why the meeting of G-8 foreign ministers that I will chair in Gatineau at the end of March matters. The G-8 brings together a group of nations that have a proven track record of accomplishment on peace and security issues. In Gatineau, I hope to advance our collaboration in three key areas – nuclear non-proliferation, Afghanistan and the effects of terrorism.

My G-8 colleagues and I will discuss nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Iran is getting ever closer to being able to build a nuclear weapon. This is a grave threat to the region and the world. Iran’s continued defiance also risks emboldening other “nuclear wannabes,” while undermining the global nuclear non-proliferation regime we depend on. North Korea too continues to pursue its nuclear programs, defying the international community. The global community, including the G-8, must remind itself of the importance of the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and of what we need to do to reach it. We owe it to future generations.

We must also discuss Afghanistan. Canada and our G-8 partners are investing heavily in helping Afghanistan build a peaceful and stable state, one that will never again be a haven for terrorists. However, its border region with Pakistan continues to be unstable. Over the past three years, Canada has facilitated talks between Afghan and Pakistani officials on practical ways to deal with mutual challenges in border management. I want to build on this effort with my G-8 colleagues. In addition, Pakistan is taking measures to root out extremists in its border areas, but faces its own economic, political and social difficulties. I want to examine how we can continue to encourage and assist Pakistan.

We will also look at the effects of terrorism, which are not restricted to Central Asia. The attempted attack on a U.S. airliner on December 25, 2009, was a stark reminder that terrorism emanating from other countries, like Yemen, remains a very real threat to us here at home. In Gatineau, I also want to talk about how we can help partners, whether in Central Asia or Africa or Latin America and the Caribbean, address the security vulnerabilities they face. Many countries lack effective institutions to sustain progress on security, human welfare and human rights. We have many different programs to help, but they do not necessarily complement one another. I want to look at how we can ensure these programs deliver real results faster, in helping countries prevent conflict, and counter terrorism, crime and illicit trafficking.

Coordination is also required to ensure a coherent response to the crisis in Haiti, to prevent duplication of effort and to ensure transparency and accountability — both important principles set out at the Montreal Ministerial Preparatory Meeting last month. Our meeting in Gatineau provides an excellent opportunity for G-8 partners to consult before the donors’ meeting in New York, to ensure that our contributions are effective and targeted, and aligned with the priorities of the Government of Haiti.

The G-8 foreign ministers’ meeting in Gatineau is an important opportunity to address issues of vital interest to global and national security. My goal is to contribute to a safer world and a more secure Canada. I invite all G-8 countries to seize this opportunity to address, head-on, threats that know no borders.

Source: Muskoka 2010 G8 [Official website]

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