Featured Content, Report of G8 Media Briefing by Canada
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Prime Minister Paul Martin addressed the media in Georgia Wednesday, June 9, a day earlier than all other summit leaders. Prime Minister Martin is leaving the Summit a day earlier to attend to election matters back in Canada. Leaders leaving the Summit early is not unprecedented; Margaret Thatcher did it twice during her election campaigns and President Bush left early last year to attend to the Iraq war.
Prime Minister Martin briefed the room on his events of the day. He began the day with a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair, at which the two leaders discussed the importance and advantages to establishing a G20 leaders level meeting. Over-fishing was also on the agenda with Martin in his discussions with both Prime Minister Blair and President Chirac, who sympathized with Canada's position. Also on the agenda was the need to work together to enhance cultural diversity and communication between the Europeans and North Americans on such issues as Haiti.
Martin then proceeded to tout Canada's economic achievements as the only country in surplus and the IMF's projection of Canada having the second strongest economy in the world by next year's summit (second only to that of the US). Martin was asked about Canada's position on Iraq; he noted NATO's existing participation and commented that it was up to the Iraqii government to make requests if what they wish for is further NATO involvement. He noted that Canada would offer expertise but did not pledge any Canadian troop participation. Martin then moved away from the subject of Iraq and stressed the role which Canada is playing in training Jordanian officers and in their involvement in Haiti and Afghanistan.
Once reporters began their questions, the focus of the discussion moved quickly to a partisan discussion about the upcoming Canadian election. This discussion centered around the fight between the Liberals and the Conservatives. In this discussion, Martin cited the challenges which his opponent, Stephen Harper has made to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in terms of a woman's right to chose and Harper's potential employment of the notwithstanding clause in the charter protections provided to minorities. When asked how he planned on winning the election, Mr. Martin responded, saying, "I believe that when you compare our program, healthcare and child care, and protection of seniors versus military spending, the Canadians are going to say, look, our values lie with the liberals."
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