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Munk School of Global Affairs

Making the G7 work for everyone

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister, Canada

Supplement to G7 Italy: The Taormina Summit 2017,
edited by John Kirton and Madeline Koch
Published by Newsdesk Media Group and the G7 Research Group, 2017

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet with Canadians at town halls across the country. Everywhere I went, I heard the same message: people are anxious about the future. They are concerned that globalization and technological change will leave them behind, and that their kids won't have the same opportunities they had.

Governments have a responsibility to do more for those who need it most, and to help replace those anxieties with real opportunities. People need to know that their governments are actively listening to them. We need the middle class to feel more confident about its prospects and its future. Above all, we need to help people deal with the uncertainty of a changing world. These are the messages that I will take with me to the G7 summit in Taormina, Italy.

With each new G7 presidency, we renew strong bonds based on common values and a shared commitment to deliver results for our citizens. Each summit is an opportunity to evaluate what we have achieved to date and what we want to achieve in the coming year. It is an opportunity to emphasize our hard work on the longstanding priorities of peace, security and global growth. It is also a chance to strengthen our partnership and focus our attention on emerging and persistent issues.

One of these important issues is empowering women and girls. It is inexcusable that women and girls must still fight today for equal opportunities and equal rights. As the G7, we are united in our recognition that gender equality is a fundamental building block of our future success, both economically and socially. This year, we must chart a clear path forward.

We must also redouble our efforts to promote a global clean economy that works for everyone. This year's summit will be held in Sicily — an island boasting over 2,000 years of history as a multicultural centre. With Sicily's links to Africa, Asia and all parts of Europe, what better place for us to discuss the benefits of a more open, interconnected world and the strength and richness that come from inclusion and diversity?

History has shown that trade and open markets are the best way to create jobs, help businesses become more competitive and drive growth across all industries, while strengthening the middle class. In Canada, our openness has helped our businesses operate with the whole world as their marketplace, and made our middle class one of the strongest in the world.

For these reasons, we recently signed the Canada-European Union Comprehensive and Trade Agreement (CETA) — an important milestone in our efforts to champion free trade deals that benefit everyone. CETA will serve as a model for reinvigorated trading relationships the world over, and will demonstrate the benefits of open trade policies and markets while having strong environmental rules. Most of all, it will create good, middle class jobs for Canadians and citizens of participating G7 members.

We live in a time of tremendous change. Automation is on the rise. Jobs are different from those that existed even a generation ago. Technology and globalization increasingly shape the direction and pace of the world. As members of the G7, we have a responsibility to share the benefits of an increasingly interconnected world, and to help those who are at risk of being left behind.

That starts with building clean growth economies that are as inclusive as they are innovative, and by helping citizens adapt to the changing nature of work. We must equip our citizens with the tools, skills and experience they need to harness the opportunities of the digital economy. Instead of pursuing policies that cut our economies off from each other, we must connect people, ideas, entrepreneurs and countries, and move towards open and fair economies.

Innovation begins with people. That is why Canada has boosted investment in skills and training and introduced the ambitious Innovation and Skills Plan. This plan puts people at its centre — much like Italy has done in its G7 presidency this year — with measures to help Canadians succeed now and in the future. These measures will benefit everyone, from students looking to get work experience, to adult workers juggling the costs of returning to school, to unemployed or underemployed Canadians hoping to improve their skills.

At last year's summit in Japan, I joined G7 colleagues in recognizing that we have a global responsibility to address the unprecedented movements of migrants and refugees. In a time of economic uncertainty and tightening security, it is easy for countries to shy away from the plight of those seeking shelter from conflict and persecution. We must do better than that. In particular, we must address the root causes of forced migration by seeking diplomatic solutions for violent conflicts and standing united in the fight against terrorism. We must also redouble our efforts on climate change, so that it does not further exacerbate insecurity in the world.

In Canada, we know diversity and openness to the world are sources of strength and have made our country not only more prosperous, but also safer and more united. We will continue to welcome and integrate those fleeing conflict and persecution, and work with international partners to address refugee settlement and migration issues.

Although every G7 summit focuses on the day's most pressing global challenges, the agenda is always enriched by the country that hosts it. With Italy, we enjoy a close friendship, rooted in our people and the strong connections they have built over many generations. When I hosted Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni last month in Ottawa, we spent a lot of time discussing the value of open trade and the importance of innovation and training, and how both help to create good jobs, strengthen the middle class and grow clean economies. I look forward to continuing these conversations with our G7 colleagues.

Too many people around the world are anxious about what the future may hold. Our citizens are looking for leaders who offer real solutions to support them through these uncertain times. As we gather in Sicily, we must seize the opportunity to be those leaders.

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