G8 Information Centre, Online Lectures 2002

Revised Wednesday, 03-Dec-2003 16:27:07 EST version française | Commentary | Contact Us | G8 Information Centre

Featured Content:
Opening Statement made by the Honourable Bill Graham to the G6B Conference
Tuesday, June 25, 2002, MacEwan Hall, University of Calgary

*Note: The G6B (Group of 6 Billion) conference, was held June 21-25, 2002 in Calgary, Alberta. In their own words, the G6B is "a forum to generate and discuss ideas and solutions that will promote economic activities that are beneficial to people living in all parts of our world, but that also reflect full respect for human rights and the environment. The G6B Conference will offer an alternative view of the planet's future; one which is not rooted in increased militarism and poverty, and decreased human and civil rights. Committed to bridging the divides and inequalities that exist between the developed and developing world, the conference will bring forward recommendations in six theme areas: trade & economy, human security, health, education, environment, democracy & governance. Importantly the G6B steering committee will facilitate concrete proposals and clear recommendations, which will be presented to G8 governments in the weeks leading up to the Summit as well as at the Summit - effective, practical solutions, not just a litany of problems and complaints." See www.g6bpeoplessummit.org.

The following is text of an address given by the Honourable Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the G6B Conference. Over the next few days, we will offer excerpted installments from the conference.

Thank you very much to the University of Calgary for hosting this very, very important meeting. We appreciate the amount of work that this takes and thanks very much, everyone, for coming. I won't be long in my opening statements and I recognize that I have a professional referee beside us who will keep us to our time limits, but other than that, we believe we are here largely to listen to you. This is a consultation process in that we, the government, believe in very strongly, and some of you may know me from my previous incarnation as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee where we spent a great deal of time working with NGOs, whether it was in the lead-up to the Quebec Summit, or subsequent tours and hearings. That is a big part of our role as parliamentarians, and I take off my Minister's hat for a moment, to say that it is that parliamentarians is to listen to Civil Society, to understand what Canadians want and, now, as my new role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, to listen to people around the world and figure out how Canada can fit into that.

So, it's very much a process that we approve of. We look forward to getting your recommendations, which we will transmit to the Prime Minister. We think it is very important that we have a long-term commitment to NEPAD at the outcome of this G8 Summit, and the responsibility for that will largely be with our department, DFAIT, and CIDA, of which Sue [Whelan] is Minister of. So, we know this will take continuous improvement and we look forward to you for on-going advice. We have heard of some key meetings through the consultation and process that has already taken place. As you know, the SCFAIT [Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade] conducted its study and I have a copy of its report here, that I've seen. Mr. Fowler went across the country and conducted this consultation and some of you may have participated in those, and we have the statement of those recommendations before us. We are hearing things like 'lack of a level playing field' in the global trading arena has meant extra hurdles for the poorest countries and regions of the world. We have to take action if we are going to bridge the gap with the poor. The G8 governments have a responsibility to ensure that globalization is socially responsible, and that our ultimate aim in global aid is to provide the full realization of human rights. In that context, I have also heard, both here and in many other areas, that the fight against terrorism must respect liberties and human rights. This is recognized in your "criminalization of dissent panel", which, believe you me, is something that politicians need to work on constantly and reaffirm when we meet with both our foreign counterparts, and ourselves. I know that some of you have disappointments with both the process by which the NEPAD document was arrived at, and the content. I read Stephen Lewis' speech decrying the lack of reference to AIDS. Many people in my home riding of Toronto Centre/Rosedale have spoken to me about this. This is something that concerns Canadians, Sue is particularly familiar with that, and she will be speaking mainly to that. But, I want to assure you that this is the beginning of a process, I think its greatest attraction is that it is a partnership that is developing and we must work with our partners. So, I look forward to hearing your suggestions of how we can do more, and how we can take your suggestions to the Prime Minister. Thank you very much, and I look forward very much to your questions and comments.