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The Two Faces
CHRIS CARR - FROM THE FRONT LINE - An unnamed website, concerning itself with G-8 summits, polled its audience in an attempt to determine what people thought this year's summit in Kananaskis would more closely resemble. The four options were the Battle of Seattle, Genoa, Quebec City, or lunchtime for the bears. Those who voted for the bears were among the vast majority who knew things would be different this time around.
Several thousand Canadian Armed Forces and R.C.M.P. officers had Kananaskis Village and the forty-kilometre radius of wilderness completely locked down. The three hundred million dollar price tag attached to the summit was to be justified by the world's latest threat of self-annihilation: terrorism.
An anti-aircraft rocket launcher set next to a the posh rendezvous resort hosting G-8 leaders, stood poised and ready to ping off any terrorist or protester who dare enter the controlled-access, no-fly zone around the meetings. Mosquitoes were about the only interruption G-8 leaders were left to endure during their stay in God's country. It was tight security measures such as these that kept protesters to do their business in Calgary, where the so-called "G6b Peoples Summit" was held for the four days preceding the G-8. The G6b was an alternative to the G-8 and accounts for the 6 billion people inhabiting the planet. And although the agendas of the two summits are similar in content, the proposed solutions vary greatly between the two entities.
Held at the University of Calgary, the G6b was organized by Alberta based, non-government organization, ISPHR, or International Society for Peace and Human Rights, along with a steering committee comprised of the Canadian Labour Congress, Amnesty International, and Partnership Africa Canada etc.
Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Bill Graham, and Federal Minister for International Cooperation Susan Whelan came to witness, and deliver the message of the G6b to G-8 leaders. Most others in attendance of the G6b were working to further the agendas related to increasing world government's respect for human rights, ratifying the Kyoto Accords, and gaining the initiation of a World Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Foreign aid to Africa was especially a hot item of interest during both summits. Susan Whelan worked to comfort the G6b crowd of about fourteen hundred people by saying the Canadian Government "cares for Africa, and the Prime Minister made certain that Africa will stay at the centre of the agenda."
Africa's current debt collectively totals $231 Billion dollars, and the economic situation continues to worsen. In fact Africa pays more interest on its debts than it receives in foreign aid collectively each year. Members of the G6b suggest true compassion would be best reflected through 100% unconditional debt forgiveness to some of the world's poorest countries. Previous methods by developed countries aimed at helping creating the infrastructure allowing Africa to work its way out of debt have failed miserably. Without the key components of social and economic success already in place, efforts were being squandered. Programs to implement the appropriate job skills, increase the literacy rates, and life spans must be already established before these methods prove useful to the people of Africa.
Africa is a continent rich in resources of oil and gas, minerals, and unspoiled natural habitat and is in the sights of the developed world that will be looking to capitalize on the value of these raw materials. The world's most industrialized nations want to open the borders. Sitting at the top of the G-8 summit agenda was NEPAD (New Partnership for African Development). World leaders say the NEPAD mandate is to integrate Africa into the globalization process.
But leaders of the G6b argue that world leaders should reassess their priorities when they hold summits that cost more than the annual price tag of foreign aid to the countries they have come to talk about helping. Concerns that NEPAD was little more than a plan to exploit African people and their resources looms heavily over the credibility of G-8 summits such as this. The true results of both of these summits have yet to be determined.
Next year's G-8 summit will be held in France.
The Columbia Journal
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