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Exercising Concerted Leadership: Canada's Approach to Summit Reform

John Kirton

In the broadest terms, Canada's approach to the future of the G-7 summit is conditioned by four fundamental factors. As a country which was created and came of age as an integral part of the process of building multilateral organizations in the modern international system (from the British Empire turned Commonwealth to the United Nations), Canada has a primordial commitment to having international organizations serve as the focal point of national foreign policies and operate effectively on behalf of the global community. As both an Atlantic country (with its two "mother countries", four leading population groups and much of its history coming from Europe) and a Pacific country (with its highly open economy and society now intensely engaged with the United States and increasingly with Japan), it sees the G-7 as the natural centrepiece of the wide array of consequential plurilateral institutions of which it is a leading member (notably the new NAFTA and APEC communities, the francophonie and Commonwealth, and the EBRD, CSCE and NATO). As a G-7 member with an exceptional record of fulfilling its summit commitments,(1) and contributing to common summit endeavours (such as the provision of bridging financial assistance to a reforming Russia), Canada has a particular concern with improving the collective performance of the summit and ensuring that its resources are employed to maximum effect. And as the host of the 1995 summit, which will point the way toward the G-7's fourth cycle, it has an immediate desire to ensure a timely and steady movement toward taking the collective decisions and undertaking the actual reforms required to ensure that the institution can adequately address the economic and associated political problems of the post-Cold War era.

Perspectives of the Canadian Government

Canada's response to the major proposals

From the moment Prime Minister Major's proposals were presented to his colleagues in August 1992, Canada was among the earliest and most enthusiastic proponents of far-reaching summit reform. It believed at the highest levels that leaders must address the credibility, relevance, legitimacy and leadership role of the summit. These had been called into question, within the media and in other consequential centres, as a result of several factors. One was the elaborate grandeur of summit preparations and presentation, which had become disproportionate to the achieved result. Another was the work of G-7 finance ministers and deputies, which had taken over a substantial part of the summit's original raison d'être and work in macroeconomic policy coordination. Yet another was the strongly negative attitude of the Bush Administration toward the summit and that Administration's preference for bilateral diplomacy. It was thus necessary for the summit to move quickly toward a greater focus on essentials and abandon the peripheral elements that had grown up over the years. At the heart of the summit, the Canadian government believed, were the small intimate discussions among leaders themselves. Only by restoring such discussions could the summit play its unique role of exercising leadership in an international system with no proper international organizations to manage interdependence, inadequate reforms in existing institutions, and poor prospects for appropriate reforms.

Thus Canada felt strongly from the start that the summit should be maintained as an annual event, especially in the new post-Cold War era. This period was one of increased uncertainty in international relations, and one in which the previous Soviet-defined source of commonality among the summit members had diminished. As the world looked to the summit for collective leadership, and as there was no alternative source, annual summits provided a unique link between North America, Europe and Asia, and an unrivalled source of global leadership. They were particularly necessary to keep the United States, strongly tempted to rely solely on direct bilateral diplomacy, and a European group of countries which met constantly among themselves, engaged in a broader, less inward-looking dialogue on major international issues. An annual meeting was thus necessary to maintain the significance of the summit, and was particularly important if it was to fulfil its tasks in the post-Cold War era.

Canada was, however, enthusiastic about moving as quickly as possible toward a new summit format. As Canada had long urged that the summit allow sufficient time for discussion among leaders alone, it was attracted to the idea of limiting the event to heads of state and government only. Such a formula would reinforce the unique nature of summits, and avoid repetitive and overlapping discussions. Canada further favoured streamlining the preparatory process to make it less onerous, and to help ensure that the summit produced crisper results. It wished to reduce sharply the number of preparatory meetings among sherpas (to one or two), and to cut back on the documentation involved. A communiqué was judged necessary to provide

Political impulse to the international agenda. But there was a strong preference for a short, straightforward, comprehensible communiqué-one that reflected what the leaders actually cared about, talked about and meant, and one that was easily understood not just by the officials that produced it and their skilled bureaucratic peers, but by the media and public at large. This would enable leaders to send a focused and limited set of messages to their publics and to the world.

Canada's concepts

To the proposals advanced by Prime Minister Major, Canada soon added some ideas of its own. In the first instance, it felt that it was important to deal not just with questions of process, but with the summit agenda as well. Its preference was for a focused agenda, with fewer, more strategic topics, and a sharper concentration on the substance of the critical (and often linked) economic and political issues in the world. This meant limiting the agenda to one or two key topics, rather than covering the half dozen or so which formed the standard summit agenda in the past. It also meant a more genuine political focus for summitry, in an effort to develop the consensus required to provide institutional leadership, at a time when other international institutions were in a state of flux. This implied a tighter convergence between political and economic agendas, a break from the past pattern of political and economic declarations issued separately (in favour of a single short communique embracing and integrating both), and the need for sherpas to have closer ties with political directors and the summit's political agenda from the start. These changes would be of particular value if the summit were to take up issues such as the following:

Such a focused summit would more readily engage the interest of leaders and enable the forum to meet their political needs.

Secondly, Canada was concerned about the challenge of conducting a somewhat privileged dialogue with Russia at the summit, and about how the summit's long-term relationship with Russia would evolve. The key questions were the objectives of a meeting with the Russian president, and the institutionalization of such a forum. On the former, the original topic of integrating Russia into international economic institutions (in an effort to promote domestic reform) had given way to the topic of financial assistance in return for largely unspecified progress toward reform. It had not yet extended to the important issue of securing cooperation from Russia on a broad political and security front. On the issue of institutionalization, a post- summit meeting with the Russian president was seen as a way of expressing Western commitment to the reform effort (and perhaps to its acceleration), but it also potentially involved raising the ante for financial assistance to a level that Canada and other G-7 partners could well be unable to meet.

Thirdly, the question of Russia inevitably raised the issue of the Asia-Pacific dimension of the summit. While noting the need to devote greater attention to Asia-Pacific matters, Canada's summit thinkers felt this should be done not through institutional alterations or on an artificial basis, but as a natural consequence of the greater importance of this region in global affairs. One possibility was to have the summit focus more on issues of particular concern to the region and pressing concern to the world (i.e. nuclear proliferation, conventional arms transfers, and United Nations reform). Procedurally, this called for the extensive use of pre-summit consultations with, and post-summit reports to, interested and consequential countries in the region, with Canada, as a Pacific partner, prepared to accept its full, appropriate share of this responsibility.

The Canadians also took up the question of more radical reforms. One possibility identified was a shorter summit, perhaps a two-day affair that would open with a welcoming ceremony in the morning and end with a communiqué reading and press conference in late afternoon the next day. A second possibility was a thematic summit, in which the core economic and political agenda would be joined only by a single strategic issue of critical concern.

The presence of a large media corps was seen not just as inevitable, but also as desirable and, indeed, essential. It was felt that the difficulties posed by the large media contingent could be addressed by mounting a businesslike, non-ceremonial summit. But consensus among the leaders on substantive results was considered critical to the success of the summit in the eyes of the media and the public at large, and was essential for the continued utility of the forum: only consensus could restore credibility, as there is no substitute for real results.

With these well-established attitudes, it is no surprise that Canada has responded with great sympathy to the analysis and suggestions set forth in the Japanese paper "Toward a Better System of International Co-operation in the New Era.(2) Canada shares the view that the dramatic transformation of the world as it moves into the post-Cold war era has meant that "the existing overall system of international cooperation may no longer be able to cope.(3) Indeed, given its historical concern with the effective functioning of international institutions, Canada believes that some of these institutions are not working properly, and that they require a serious review- initiated by the G-7 itself-of their mandate, management, resources and administrative arrangements.

Given the inadequacies of the existing system of international cooperation and organization, Canada endorses the Japanese view that, "a system of efficient policy coordination and cooperation among the major countries of the world which share the common value of democracy and market economy is indispensabie more than ever".(4) There is indeed a need for the summit to focus on the following critical issues:

Canada also sees the G-7 summit as "a forum to create and confirm concerted political commitment," and a "process of policy coordination(5) through free informal exchange among the heads. In Canada's view the summit is a vehicle for consultation among leaders, agreement on international priorities, and, when necessary, joint action. In short, the summit is a body that is primarily deliberative, and directional, but also decisional when the occasion demands.

Canada thus seeks a process of summit reform that strengthens the role of leaders and increases their commitment to the long-term viability of the summit as an important forum for exercising leadership on pressing issues in the world community. As the issue of Russia demonstrates, in a world in which "political issues are becoming increasingly inseparable from economic ones",(6) the G-7 summit should be a forum for heads to "gather purely among themselves to exchange views in a frank and direct manner.(7) This requires making their discussions more issue-oriented, and shortening the length of the communiqués.

Towards Naples and Halifax

As Canada looks ahead toward Naples in 1994 and the Canadian-hosted 1995 summit, these longstanding perspectives remain firmly in place. Canada's new prime minister, Jean Chrétien, elected with a massive majority government on 25 October 1993, has, like other leaders, not written extensively about the G-7 and has yet to signal publicly his attitudes on questions of summit reform, or the place he sees for this forum in Canadian foreign policy as a whole.(8) There could thus be some strengthening and refinement in Canada's approach, as Chrétien becomes increasingly engaged in foreign affairs and in the summit process over the coming year. Yet it is worth recalling that during his two decades of cabinet experience, Chrétien served as both finance minister and foreign minister, attended the 1978 Bonn Summit (rated as one of the best by Putnam and Bayne),(9) and was elected prime minister on the central issue of creating jobs. He can thus be expected to want to focus in the first instance on the core economic issues of wealth creation among the G-7 themselves; orienting the G-7 towards the employment agenda; and ensuring that the summit itself achieves substantive collective results. In addition, the Liberal Party, in its campaign "red book" and May 1993 foreign policy handbook, placed some emphasis on the issues of United Nations reform and peacekeeping, suggesting that these traditional Canadian preoccupations may return to the summit sphere.

In considering the agenda for the summit in the future, Canada thus favours a focused rather than a comprehensive approach. Such focus is to be obtained, not by arbitrarily establishing any fixed and enduring "core" and "variable" agenda, nor by concentrating always on those subjects most frequently addressed by the summit in the past (macroeconomic policy, trade, North-South relations); rather, it is secured by selecting those topics that most preoccupy the heads and their publics in any given year, and for which collective political leadership at the highest level can provide important stimulus and direction.

Looking ahead, this suggests a central focus on job creation, particularly on the question of structural or long-term unemployment (with the Naples Summit building upon the work of the American-hosted ministerial-level G-7 meeting in the spring of 1994). It also points to the importance of the heads themselves dealing with those macroeconomic issues through which they can shape their societies, rather than delegating these as technical matters to G-7 portfolio ministers or officials. Multilateral trade need not be a central preoccupation of every summit, but with the Uruguay Round now successfully completed, there is an opportunity for Naples to spend some time on the newer aspects of this topic. And while Canada's interest in the developing countries and in the environment remains equally deep and durable, public concern with employment in G-7 countries has a superior claim in the coming year. In addition, a focused summit should allow for the leaders to define the priority, set the agenda, and catalyze action on important new subjects, as shown by the summit's past success in taking up issues of aircraft hijacking, terrorism, and money laundering. On the current equivalent of such subjects, Canada looks to the summit host to provide the lead.

Furthermore, both before and since his election as prime minister, Chrétien has placed a major stress on frugality in the exercise of public functions, and has displayed a preference for an informal, indeed populist, style. His early decision to renew the mandate of Canada's personal representative (who simultaneously serves as the most senior official in the foreign ministry) further suggests that Canada's recent clear emphasis on a small, simple, informal, leader-driven, results-oriented summit will endure. Canada thus strongly wishes to move to a lean summit rather than to a lavish one. In thinking ahead to the ideal shape of its summit in 1995, it is looking at the 1981 Montebello model, rather than the 1988 Toronto summit. The latter was staged at considerable cost by Prime Minister Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government in a downtown convention complex in Canada's major population, finance and media centre. It took place at the peak of a half decade of vibrant economic growth in Canada and in the G-7 as a whole. In sharp contrast, the Montebello Summit, mounted by the Liberal government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, took place in the "largest log cabin in the world", with spokespeople helicoptered out to give periodic briefings to the attending media in the national capital, Ottawa, 60 miles away. It took place as Canada and its G-7 partners were mired in, or moving into, low or negative economic growth.

Such a modest summit may be somewhat shorter than the three-plus day affair that had grown up during the third cycle. But the key is to allow ample time for surrounding bilaterals, and above all, for leaders to meet for extended periods in informal settings where their discussions are not heavily structured and where there is full room and incentive for real exchange and free-wheeling give and take.

Following the Montebello model, the 1995 summit must be, and must appear to be, relatively inexpensive, that is, less expensive than the Toronto Summit was seven years earlier. For this and other purposes, it must have a sharply reduced army of surrounding security personnel. At the same time, it is important to note that the Canadian public remains impressed with the summit. Indeed, a poll taken immediately prior to the 1993 Tokyo Summit showed that 71 percent of Canadians felt that "because the economies of all these countries are so closely linked, these meetings are important and give the leaders an opportunity to discuss problems and share ideas on how to solve them", whereas only 28 percent believed "these meetings are a waste of time and money because nothing substantial is ever really accomplished at them".(10)

For this reason, and because G-7 publics look to the institution for leadership, the media continue to have an important place. The challenge is to ensure that they treat the event with the appropriate, rather than an excessive, level of expectation, and leave the leaders sufficiently free to develop the in-depth understanding and consensus they need. Here again the Montebello experience provides an important referent.

On the issue of ministerial participation, Canada is fully supportive of whatever collective agreement its Italian hosts propose and secure on this matter this year. In broad terms, however, Canada remains convinced of the value of extended, uninterrupted, unstructured exchanges among the heads themselves, as a critical way of engendering the consensus and substantive results that the post-Cold War world so badly needs. Even if ministers are present on site at the summit, they should not focus on drafting communiqués. In addition, the different roles of foreign and finance ministers must be recognized. And in the longer term, Canada's deep psychological attachment to a streamlined, stripped-down summit endures.

Canada's thoughts on this begin with the seminal and continuing concept of an economic summit. Thus, the general desire to reduce the number of ministerial participants at the summit itself leads in the first instance to considering the desirability of altering the role of the foreign ministers at the annual event. The experience of the Tokyo Summit raised serious questions as to whether the time of foreign ministers was best spent by taking a document prepared by political directors and making minor modifications to it, before it was sent on to heads for them to alter and issue as a separate political declaration. These questions were heightened by the critical reaction of both the heads themselves and the media to the document they received. A superior alternative would be to have the foreign ministers meet prior to the summit (perhaps a week before, or at another time on the margins of another forum) to deal with the substance of pressing political issues in a serious manner among themselves (without being distracted by the need to issue a communiqué, particularly one drafted by others and issued in the name of their heads). A possible solution could be the use of a chairman's summary recording the results of the political discussions, as at the 1981 Montebello Summit.

The spirit of a streamlined, heads-driven and heads-delivered summit also has clear implications for the role of the surrounding, supporting bureaucracy. Should the summit heads be free to grapple with, and arrive at, a personal, deeply-held, well-understood consensus on key issues, there is a much reduced need for large, on-site delegations, a year-long process of policy co-ordination, or preparation by individuals at lower levels working on their behalf, or for burdening other international organizations such as the OECD with a major role in preparing summit advice. There is a similarly reduced need for special monitoring, follow-up or implementation-oriented G-7 meetings in the post-summit period, beyond the G-7 encounters held on the margins of the many meetings of international financial institutions that take place during the autumn months. And given the desirability of focusing the leaders' attention on linked political and economic issues, and the consequent freedom to dispense with a separate political declaration, there is no real need for an elaborate, year-round sequence of meetings for already very busy foreign ministers and political directors, beyond the existing dinner during the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in late September.

Thus the Canadian government feels that with the advent of modern technologies enabling sherpas to keep in close touch with each other, there is a reduced need for them to meet with political directors face-to-face on a full plenary basis as often as they have in the recent past, particularly at an early stage in the annual preparatory cycle. Nor is there a need for developing a fixed set of further meetings for foreign ministers, equivalent to those which their finance colleagues already enjoy. But there is a broad satisfaction with the existing configuration of meetings for G-7 finance meetings and their deputies. And in cases in which there is a genuine need, Canada continues to favour ad hoc meetings of the G-7 at the levei of heads, ministers, and sherpas, when they are integrated with and conducive to the success of the overall annual event.

This preference for a leader-driven and leader-delivered summit also has implications for the question of Russian involvement at, or with, the summit. Canada's fundamental view is that this issue should be determined consciously, comprehensively and collectively, rather than on an incremental, ad hoc basis on the initiative of individual countries. In the period between the military attack on the Russian parliament and the 12 December 1993 parliamentary elections and constitutional referendum in Russia, there were good grounds for caution on this issue prior to committing the group to any further step. Caution also continues to be warranted as a result of ihe absence of discretionary fiscal surplus in G-7 member countries, including the two countries (Germany and Canada) which have already pledged and disbursed the most on a per capita basis. At the political level, it is increasingly felt that the Russian reform process should move f,om the macroeconomic to the macroeconomic level, and that existing financial assistance packages should be refined to this end. Large "foreign aid" handouts to Russia have, at best, a mixed effect in maintaining the domestic consensus within Russia for further reform.

There is thus an urgent need to meet the G-7 commitment of spring 1993 to have the summit's Support Implementation Group in Moscow function fully as an important point of dialogue with the Russians over their ability to disburse the G-7 funds already authorized and allocated, the effectiveness of existing disbursements, and their plans to fulfil the conditions required for further commitments to be disbursed. In addition important questions about the course of Russian foreign policy and its contribution to world peace must be addressed by the G- 7and in dialogue with the Russians.

For these reasons, it would be a natural progression of the momentum of the summits of the third cycle to involve the Russians a little more fully in the summit itself, and also in the preparatory process leading up to it. Such involvement would provide an important, visible, symbolic reassurance to a great power Russia that is in danger of feeling seriously slighted by the international community. It would also provide an opportunity, through heads-directed dialogue, for the sphere of G-7-Russian foreign policy cooperation to deepen and broaden, and for the G-7 to engage the Russians on those transnational issues on which Russia is functionally relevant to G-7 concerns. Canada's favourable attitude toward this progression is consistent with its historic position as an early enthusiast of greater G-7-Russian engagement. At the same time, Canada recognizes that the timing and level of greater Russian involvement must be carefully considered, and must avoid creating any irreversible formula for the G-7 as it embarks on its fourth cycle of summitry. The question of the possibility of actual Russian membership in the G-7 can await the day when Russia more clearly becomes a major industrial democracy resembling the existing members.

Perspectives and Proposals of Political and Economic Communities

Consistent with Canada's emphasis on the summit as a leader-driven institution, the annual summit's agenda and process have attracted little attention outside of the executive branch of the federal government. Within parliament, the annual summit usually inspires a few oral questions in the lead up to, and a report from the prime minister upon his return from the event, when the House of Commons is in session. Parliamentary discussion focuses overwhelmingly on admonitions for the government to use the summit not for "photo-opportunities" but for raising particular issues of concern to Canada with sufficient force, and for conducting bilaterals with major partners (the United States, France, Germany, Japan) to register these particular concerns. There is a historical sympathy for Canada serving at the summit as a voice for the Third World, reflected in a suggestion from a Conservative backbencher in 1984 that the summit club be expanded to include Saudi Arabia and Brazil. Discussion about the summit process has been confined to complaints about the lavish accommodation arrangements of the prime ministerial entourage (Bonn 1985), the use of police against student protesters (Toronto 1988) and congratulations from the faithful governing party backbenchers for the "superb" staging and hosting of the 1988 Toronto Summit.

Among the political parties, there is even less attention to the summit process and issues of reform. During election campaigns, both of the traditional major governing parties (the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives) have regularly used the summit performance of their own leader and rivals as proof of the relative competence of their leader as a statesperson and of the international respect he or she commands. This was particularly true in 1979 and 1980, and to a lesser extent in 1993 (when Jean Chrétien deployed a G-7 report allegedly calling for Canada to shift from deficit control to job creation as a priority concern). The fragmentary evidence available suggests that these campaign portraits of summit performance achieve the desired electoral effect to a modest degree (in that summit success or endorsement brings a reward in the polls). However there have been no major party differences over the summit process or institution (as distinct from the substance of its agenda and results), and the institution was absent from the foreign policy platforms of the major parties in the 1993 campaign. Both the Liberal Party's autumn "red book" and its May 1993 foreign policy handbook ignored the summit in favour of a focus on the historical centrepiece of Canadian and Liberal foreign policy, the United Nations. Nor have the two new regional parties-the official opposition at the federal level Bloc Québecois (confined to francophone Quebec)(11) and the western-based Reform Party which is closely behind in third place-given any thought to the summit. With no firm party foundation to guide their approach to their first summit, new Canadian prime ministers (Joe Clark in 1970, Brian Mulroney in 1985, and Kim Campbell in 1 993) have been content to rely on the advice of the foreign ministry sherpas they inherited, and indeed to praise them publicly for the impressive results they have generally delivered (especially in 1979 and 1993).(12)

In the leadup to the annual summit, Canada's peak organizations for the business and labour communities-the Business Council on National Issues and the Canadian Labour Congress- routinely provide the government with briefs, but these relate to policy substance rather than institutional processes. The same is true for the occasional contribution from public policy organizations,(13) for the government's own pre-summit retreat think-ins (the Wilson House exercise), and for the visible consultations it has mounted with particular constituencies, such as farm leaders since the mid-1980's and provincial premiers immediately before Tokyo in 1993.

A recent contribution has come from a joint group of eminent Canadian and Japanese citizens, commissioned by their respective prime ministers to make recommendations on the future shape of the Canadian-Japanese relationship. Led on the Canadian side by former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed and including former Canadian sherpa Sylvia Ostry, this Japan-Canada Forum 2000 included in its report a recommendation that the two countries promote at the summit a "new core agenda" to achieve "the objectives of comprehensive global security and an equitable sharing of responsibility for this goal among the summit partners". According to the report, the summit members must address together more systematically today's challenges to comprehensive security, or 'core agenda', of aid, environment, defence, trade, investment and technology and international financial stability. Through a more equitable, more feasible and more accountable division of tasks, and by each member contributing the best combination of its own strengths and national policy priorities, the summit process would be immeasurably better equipped to long term peace and security.(14)

By far the most substantial and significant views in Canadian society on the summit process and on the need for reform come from the media, in particular from the editorials and major columnists of Canada's elite general and financial daily newspapers in the anglophone and francophone communities (the Globe and Mail, Le Devoir, and the Financial Post). Also of importance is network television portraits of the summit event, as television news has a consequential roie in shaping mass public opinion of the summit institution. With its newly secured massive majority mandate, the Chr6tien government has little immediate need to take media opinion into account in devising its participation for Naples 1994. In producing the Halifax summit of 1995, however, its evident desire to differentiate itself from its Conservative predecessors and to demonstrate the values of a strong central government to domestic audiences in the face of pressures for regional devolution will probably make it somewhat sensitive to what the media think. The former consideration suggests a move away !rom the 1988 Toronto model to the 1981 Montebello summit; the latter requires a more detailed examination of the particular media views of recent summits, and their proposals for change.

The view of the most important of the print sources mentioned above, the Globe and Mail, is brutally clear. In its 13 July 1993 editorial assessing the Tokyo Summit, it began with the question of summits as an institution:

In substantive terms they are more or less a complete waste of time, as one would expect from an institution that in the few short years since the first relatively intimate gathering... has grown into the vast global hot-tub party for the briefing bureaucrats and noshing journalists the public so enthusiastically ignores today. There is much to be said for taking things back to the original, shirt-sleeved intent: fewer meetings, shorter communiques, and leave the hangers-on at home.(15)

The editorial did, however, acknowledge the value of Tokyo in promoting the GATT market access agreement, and, together with ?Bill Clinton's proposed job summit", in focusing attention on the fact that unemployment is a macroeconomic rather than macroeconomic problem. The previous year, the Globe also endorsed the trade and macroeconomic agenda, while underscoring the "folly" of G-7 efforts at macroeconomic policy co-ordination. Although it was silent on Russia in 1993, 1992 and previous years, it endorsed conditional aid to Russia through the IMF only, on a staged basis, and as a lever for continuing reforms. It also noted that past assistance had "trickled into the sands", and that Russia needs private investment rather than public funds from abroad. In addition, it was concerned about "throwing money" at an economy not ready to absorb it, where the leadership seemed committed to maintaining military spending and Japan's northern territories, and when other reforming countries throughout the world also needed G-7 aid. Not surprisingly, it could thus barely endorse the desire of G-7 leaders to "hang around for an extra day or two" for a meeting of the G-7 plus one.

These are longstanding views from an editorial team that takes its positions seriously, arrives at them with care, and is reluctant to abandon them. In 1989 Globe editorialists wrote: "With any luck the lavishness of the Paris Summit will convince the participants of the need to scale back these affairs and restore the original purpose of the casual, intimate meeting so that leaders, meeting regularly, could get to know who their friends were in times of crisis." It did continue to acknowledge the value of a year-long staff-level preparatory process aimed at hammering out agreements, On membership it noted that an expansion of the agenda beyond economic issues would breed claims from other countries for inclusion, and concluded: "While the G-7 should be in no rush to change its present constitution, it should be flexible enough to establish means for EastWest and North-South consultations .(16)

Among the other major newspapers' editorialists and primary national affairs columnists in Canada, there is a high degree of agreement with this view. For example, editorialists of the Financial Post, assessing Tokyo 3, decried the pre-cooked communiqué at past summits, but noted the need for careful summit preparation and for this summit to rescue GATT's stalled Uruguay Round. Those of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest circulation daily, criticized the "summitry puffery", "grand declarations", and the "weak-willed communique" with its "weasel words".(17) At the core of this trans-Canada media consensus is a common desire for a less extravagant, less ceremonial, more informal gathering, held without the attending armies of journalists and police, where the leaders can talk freely and meaningfully among themselves.

Such a desire is reinforced by the image and criticisms offered by the major broadcast media at the Tokyo Summit, where the issue of summit reform attracted considerable visibility. Coverage opened with Major's and Campbell's complaints that the summit had become a big machine where the leaders wasted time grappling with pre-cooked communiqués amidst oppressive security. It continued with items on the 36,000 police officers and 11,000 journalists, protesterss attack on an American military base, and Clinton's complaints about the lack of give and take" and the rigid formality of the agenda. At summit's end, the emphasis was on Clinton's and Campbell's desire for a less ceremonial, more informal affair, the reluctance of Kohl and Mitterrand to leave their ministers at home, and the clear promise that next year would feature a reduction of the formality, ceremony, "armies of bureaucrats", and police. The networks devoted considerable attention to the meeting with Yeltsin (with one describing him as the only "winner" at the summit). None displayed any criticism of Canada's refusal to provide additional financial assistance to Russia. In contrast, the summit's promise to hold a special G-7 ministerial meeting on employment was portrayed with some prominence and in a positive light. There was generally favourable coverage of the trade and employment agenda, criticism of the political declaration, and no attention to, or call for action on anything else. Visual coverage of the summit reinforced the impact of the ceremony and security messages, as it featured leaders dining in sumptuous splendour (a "glittering state dinner given by the emperor", "lavish entertainment") and showed politically and economically weak and unpopular leaders separated by armies of security personnel from angry citizens outside.

Views of the Academic Community

Within Canada, few scholars have devoted sustained or serious attention to the summit in general, or to the particular issue of how it might best be institutionally shaped. Beyond basic bibliographic and documentary offerings,(18) and background studies (notably from the University of Toronto's Centre for International Studies for the 1988 summit), much of the work that does exist comes from former summit participants-turned-academics(19) or from academics providing policy advice on specific substantive issues to governments through the media on the eve of the annual event. Reciprocally, journalists have occasionally entered the academic realm to reflect on recent summits they have seen.(20) As a subject of mainstream scholarly inquiry, however, the summit has rarely attracted the interest of the major scholarly journals, nor been the subject of full length monograph treatment.(21) And while the existing academic offerings broadly, if crudely, reflect the diversity of discussion within government, they have little if any influence on the outcome of those discussions.

The major analyst of the summit has been former Sherpa (1984-1988) and economist Sylvia Ostry. Her early writing pointed to the summit as a potential "system of continuing coordination" and multilateral surveillance moving towards the generation of rules, based on a preparatory process which meshed domestic positions towards the IMF, World Bank, GATT and OECD. Such an evolution would be assisted if the IMF were to assume secretariat functions for the G-7, and by the OECD pre-negotiating the summit consensus. Consistent with this conception was a view of journalists as "a sceptical media army of thousands searching for simple answers to intolerably complex questions." She did note, however, the unique value of summits as the only forum in which heads could integrate competing national ministries, and which could generate institutional change through the issuance of instructions by the heads to established multilateral institutions ensconced in inertial decisionmaking.(22)

By October 1990, the end of the Cold War and "the unstoppable momentum to greater European integration" led Ostry to argue that the structure of the summit had become inappropriate, by excluding the Soviet Union, and allowing double or triple representation for Europe. Her concept, reminiscent of the 1943 Canadian doctrine of functional representation for the prospective United Nations, was to develop a "two-phase or two-tier structure", as follows:

The process of summitry involves a core agenda (broadly global economic management) and a priority-issue agenda varying over time. Why not have a core membership and a variable, issue- specific membership? This structure would be more flexible and permit greater political legitimacy in the post-postwar world, permitting the Soviet Union and perhaps representatives of Eastern Europe to be present when making fundamental decisions affecting their future. The same would be true for discussions of Latin American or African debt or the environment. The countries most concerned with the policy impact of the specific issue should participate in the deliberations.(23)

Accompanying this proposal were criticisms of the advent of "political hollywoodism" at the summit, and communiqués based on rhetoric rather than action.

More recently, as the chair of the Group of Thirty's study group on the summit process, Ostry has elaborated upon this thinking.(24) At the heart of this elaboration lie four proposals for summit reform:

Taken together these proposal represent a major, new, comprehensive, directed expansion of the summit in policy breadth, authoritative reach, institutional depth, and membership, so it might better serve as a more binding decision making forum.

A distinctly different concept of the summit draws on the work of Allan Gotlieb, who emphasizes the small, fixed membership, dominance of democratically-elected heads, role of peer pressure, and inclusion of political topics.(25) This conception argues that the summit is best understood and developed as a modern international concert, with four essential features: concentrated power; constricted participation; common purpose; and political control.(26) It is an exclusive forum of all but only the world's major powers, whose essential task is to act through consensus to defend the existing international order against severe shocks, provide direction to the international community, and pioneer new regimes when novel challenges arise.

As the summit's primordial purpose is to prevent disaster through effective crisis response, rather than to maximize welfare through regular international policy co-ordination, its leaders need the maximum freedom to focus political attention on whatever challenges are most salient at any given time. Although the summit of the leaders stands at the centre of a new system of international institutions, far better adapted to the post twentieth-century war world than those of the older United Nations or Atlantic families, its unique power lies in its freedom from formal charters, supporting bureaucracies and budgets, set agendas, fixed procedures, and representational and ceremonial demands. This concept of "summit-as-concert", rather than "summit-as-international organization", is the one likely to prevail in an age when fundamental political concerns rather than specialized economic issues need to be addressed, and when deficit-ridden national governments and their sceptical publics have lost their enthusiasm for finding solutions by building ever bigger and more expensive institutions of governance.

(1) G Von Furstenberg and J. Daniels, Economic Summit Declarations, 1975-1989: Examining the Written Record of International Cooperation (Princeton: Princeton Studies in International Finance, 1992).

(2) "Government of Japan, "Toward a Better System of International Cooperation in the New Era", 1 June 1993.

(3)Ibid., p. 1.

(4) Ibid., p. 4.

(5) Ibid., p. 8.

(6) Ibid., p. 7.

(7) Ibid., p. 8.

(8) J. Chrétien, Straight from the Heart (Toronto: Key Porter, 1985).

(9) R. Putnam and N. Bayne, Hanging Together Cooperation and Conflict in the Seven-Power Summits (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987).

(10) Decima Quarterly Report, Summer 199

(11) The Bloc Québecois is led by Lucien Bouchard, a former Canadian ambassador to France during the mid-1980s and a Canadian cabinet minister from 1988 to 1990.

(12) J. Clark, "Canada's New Internationalism" in Canada and the New Internationalism, ed. J. Holmes and J. Kirton (Toronto: Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 1988), pp. 3-1 1.

(13) M. Farrow, The Toronto Economic Summit. Great Expectations Need to be Tempered with Realism (Toronto: C. D. Howe Institute, 1988).

(14) Japan-Canada-Japon Forum 2000, Partnership Across the Pacific, December, 1992).

(15) "Gee, Seven Actually Did Something", Globe and Mail, 13 July 1993.

(16) "Trying to book room G-7", Globe and Mail, 18 July 1989.

(17) "The GATT Game", Toronto Star, 12 July 1993, p. Al3.

(18) P. Hajnal, "Documents of the Seven-Power Summit", INSPEL: Official Organ of the IFLA Division of Special Libraries, no. 26, 1992, pp. 127-37; Idem., The Seven-Power Summit. Documents from the Summits of Industrialized Countries; Supplement: Documents from the 1990 Summit (Millwood, NY: Kraus International Publications, 1991); Idem., The Seven-Power Summit.: Documents from the Summits of Industrialized Countries, 1975-1989 (Millwood, NY: Kraus International Publications, 1989.)

(19) W. Dobson, Economic Policy Coordination: Requiem or Prologue? (Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics, 1991); A. Gotlieb, Canada and the Economic Summits: Power and Responsibility, (Toronto: University of Toronto Centre for International Studies, 1987); C. McMillan, Comparing Canadian and Japanese Approaches to the Seven Power Summit (Toronto: University of Toronto Centre for International Studies, 1988); S. Ostry, "Canada, Europe and the Economic Summits", Paper presented at the All-European Canadian Studies Conference, The Hague, 1990; S. Ostry, Summitry: The Medium and the Message (Toronto: University of Toronto Centre for International Studies, 1988).

(20) H. Solomon, "Summit Reflections", International Perspectives, July/August 1988, pp. 8-10; M. Vastel, "Trudeau on Summitry", International Perspectives, November/ December, 1982, pp.10-12.

(21) The major exception is L. Waverman and T. Wilson, "Macroeconomic Coordination and the Summit", Canadian Public Policy, Special Issue, no. 15, February, 1989).

(22) M. J. Artis and S. Ostry, "International Economic Policy Coordination", Chatham House Papers, vol. 30 (London and New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986); S. Ostry, Summitry: The Medium and the Message (Toronto: University of Toronto Centre for International Studies, 1988).

(23) S. Ostry, "Canada, Europe and the Economic Summits", Paper presented at the All- European Canadian Studies Conference, The Hague, 1990, p.

(24) S. Ostry, et aL, The Summit Process and Collective Security.: Future Responsibility Sharing (Washington, D. C.: Group of Thirty, 1991).

(25) A. Gotlieb, Canada and the Economic Summits: Power and Responsibility, (Toronto: University of Toronto Centre for International Studies, 1987).

(26) J. Kirlon, "Contemporary Concert Diplomacy: The Seven-Power Summit and the Management of International Order", Paper prepared for the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, London: 1 March - 1 April 1989; Idem., ""The Seven-Power Summit as a New Security Institution," in Building a New Global Order: Emerging Trends in International Security, ed. D. Dewitt, D. Haglund and J. Kirton (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 335-7.

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