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Austerity reigns, we lose: G20 summit roundup

Above is Naomi Klein on Democracy Now on the G20 plan to cut deficits in half by 2013.

“What actually happened at the summit is that the global elites just stuck the bill for their drunken binge with the world’s poor, with the people that are most vulnerable,” Klein says.

As I described (G20 and Deficits) in the week’s leading up to the G20 summit, the push was for austerity and cuts to social spending, regardless of how much it would hurt the poor and could easily, according to some economists lead us to a new depression.  Canada (with France, Britain and Germany, among others) led the charge.  Well, it happened.  Austerity reigns.

Here are a number of excellent articles on the aftermath of the G20 meetings themselves.

Sticking the Public With the Bill for the Bankers’ Crisis How else can we interpret the G20 communiqué that includes not even a measly tax on financial transactions?

As Canada’s Democracy Trembles, a New Global Architecture Emerges

G-20 Nations: Race to the Bottom will Continue
A critical analysis of the G-20’s Toronto Declaration

The G20’s prescriptions for the global crisis will only worsen the situation for Africa

G-20 Nations: Race to the Bottom will Continue

G-20 Nations: Race to the Bottom will Continue

I have been writing about the G20’s austerity plans for the past few weeks (here and here for example.  Well, it has been approved by the G20.

I’ll be writing more about the austerity and other G20 declarations tomorrow.

Here is Dawn Paley’s excellent piece on the Toronto declaration.  Read the original from Vancouver Media Coop here


G-20 Nations: Race to the Bottom will Continue A critical analysis of the G-20’s Toronto Declaration

As the G-20 summit winds down behind the fences surrounding fortress Toronto, there are at least 560 folks in jail, and anyone left out on the streets is facing detentions, beatings, searches and arrests.

This is the context in which the Group of 20 gathered to write the Toronto Summit Declaration, a 27 page document released earlier this evening. An early critical reading of this text makes it evident that those who have taken great risk to mobilize against the G20 have done so on behalf of the health of communities, and the planet.

Because though the Toronto Declaration begins with a populist appeal to sustainability, job creation and financial regulation, it enshrines a commitment to force the poor and working class around the world to tighten their belts yet again as states implement strict new austerity programmes.

The Declaration proposes an ambitious new structural adjustment agenda, designed by the IMF and the World Bank, that aims to halve first world deficits by 2013.

Shoring up financial sector abuse of public funds is likely one of the most pressing concerns of publics, who have been denouncing the bank bail out all around the world. But the language in the Toronto Declaration does little to guarantee meaningful public oversight of the financial sector.

The Declaration welcomes the recently passed US Financial Reform Bill, which according to Newsweek “effectively annoints the existing banking elite,” without putting a cap on executive compensation. Nor does the bill crack down on the banks that are supposedly “too big to fail,” including J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.

Financial oversight will remain with elites, led by the IMF and other Multilatral Development Banks (like the Inter American Development Bank and the African Development Bank), which the declaration proposes should become “even stronger partners” in the future.

The Declaration indicates that G20 countries will pump $350 billion into Multilateral Development Banks, doubling their lending capacity, so that they can “focus on lifting the lives of the poor, underwriting growth, and addressing climate change and food security.”

The move towards putting MDBs on the front lines of global lending could be a response to the growing global rejection of International Financial Institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This shift is reminiscent of a move away from global trade and regional agreements like the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the World Trade Organization, and towards smaller regional deals and bilateral agreements.

The Toronto Declaration makes a point of noting that Haiti’s debt with International Financial Institutions will be cancelled, but avoids mention of the larger debt that the country owes to the Inter American Development Bank (IADB). Haiti owes less than $200 million to the World Bank and the IMF, while their outstanding debt to the IADB is upwards of $441 million. The IADB has also positioned itself to become the lead development bank behind the $10 billion reconstruction of the country.

In addition to an increased role for the IADB and other regional development banks, the Toronto Declaration promises more privatized “development financing” for low income countries. This could mean further subsidies for transnational corporations active in resource extraction and the maquila sector.

Language in the document around increasing global output, create tens of millions of jobs, and reduce global imbalances flies in the face of recommendations for countries with higher debt loads to continue a regulatory race to the bottom by “maintaining open markets and enhancing export competativeness.”

The Toronto Declaration also welcomed the launch of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which proposes to create food soverignty between public and private partnerships. This flies in the face of demands from peasent groups, including Via Campesina, who stated at the end of 2009 that “The absence of the heads of state of the G8 countries has been one of the key causes of the dismal failure of [the November 2009 Food and Agriculture Summit]. Concrete measures were not taken to eradicate hunger, to stop the speculation on food or to hold back the expansion of agrofuels””

The Declaration asks that the OECD, the ILO, World Bank, and the WTO facilitate their version of events by having them “report on the benefits of trade liberalization for employment and growth” at their next meeting. States are cautioned to stick with World Trade Organization measures and avoid new “barriers to investment or trade in goods and services.” Items that potentially included among these barriers are new environmental legislation and new forms of taxation on corporate activity.

On the topic of climate change, G-20 countries that support Cophenhagen issued a weak call for other nations to “associate with it.”

Pray for the G20 with Karl Rove!

Pray for the G20 with Karl Rove!

Karl Rove is coming to the G20!  That’s right, ‘Bush’s brain’ who was Dubya’s chief advisor, a key architect of the Iraq war, and a prolific liar who arguably should be in jail right now, will be speaking at an evangelical event at Canada Christian College sponsored by Canada Family Action, the Institute for Canadian values, Conservative Values of Canada and B’Nai Brith of Canada. It is being coordinated by Charles McVety, head of Canada Christian College, who is one of Canada’s most active campaigners against same sex marriage through his Defense of Marriage Coalition. It will all take place in Toronto while the G20 is meeting – June 25-27.

The wide array of speakers are all white men, who, of course, are best able to understand Canadian values, the importance of defend marriage, etc… and how that all wraps up into wholesome, family values G20 policy.

And this isn’t some side show – they have clout.  Former Conservative MP Garth Turner once said McVety has unrivaled access to the Prime Minister, with McVety having told him:”I can pick up the phone and call Harper and I can get him in two minutes.”  Wonder where Harper’s anti-abortion ‘women’s health’ plan comes from?

McVety’s Wikipedia page (yes, I took the shortcut on this paragraph, though I fact-checked!) states that he is anti-Darwin, anti-environmentalism (leads to worship of earth), and was one of the leading proponents of Bill C-10 changing policy on tax credits for films the Conservatives didn’t like.  McVety claimed credit for the Bill (Globe and Mail -2008-02-29) stating “films promoting homosexuality, graphic sex or violence should not receive tax dollars.”

Workshops include such important events as ‘pray for the G20’ and dealing with ‘one world government’ (hmm, is it a stretch to say that we have that now, and people like Rove get to lead it?).  Right in line with the Conservative government itself,  the event’s main focus is to push the G8 to stop nuclear Iran (though Iran currently has no nuclear weapons), while viewing the regions other potentially apocalyptic threat, Israel’s nuclear weapons, as outside scrutiny, despite the fact that Israel has an already existing nuclear stockpile.

But I guess in a world where the Israeli Defense Forces can storm a relief supply flotilla at gunpoint in international waters and still be seen by much of the media and establishment as the victims, I shouldn’t be at all surprised by this little contradiction.  I digress.

They will even be having a rally up on Gervais Ave (Eglington and Don Mills).  I will look into where the police will be putting the security fence up there.  Or whether they will arrest Rove.

Maybe some of the protest will shift there?

This is all up at, a website which, strangely enough, the $1billion G20 cost was unable to cover.   Or when , McVety called, did Harper just say, ‘hey, is yours, go crazy old buddy’

University of Toronto closes for G20 summit

University of Toronto closes for G20 summit

The University of Toronto has decided it will close for 4 days during the G20 summit.   The school is 15-20 blocks of dense city from the G20 meetings. They are saying the closure is because the G20 ‘designated speech’ march will be ending couple of blocks away at Queen’s park.  Hyper-sensitive?  Overreaction? What is the labour and community march going to do that is such a threat to the University (especially for 4 days!)

Looks like U of T students will have to go out to the marches now – they’re both pissed off and have the free time!

It makes you wonder what the University is really doing.  Maybe they are giving up the space to G20 security so they cast an even wider net.

Economy over climate at G20; Tar sands alternative to gulf spill?

Economy over climate at G20; Tar sands alternative to gulf spill?

It was heartening to learn of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s demands of Harper to lead the charge on climate change, but not at all surprised that Harper rejected them, stating that climate change will be on the margins during the summit.

Harper, who has a long history of rejecting environmental initiatives clearly doesn’t see climate change as an issue that should be at the top of the agenda at the G20. He sees it as getting away from the ‘economy’ mandate of the G20, as decided in Pittsburgh in 2009. This is convenient, but you can’t separate the two. Even if you accept the G20’s self-determined role as fixer of the world economy, it’s being fixed is completely tied to halting climate change.

In any case, so long as the Tar Sands are the centrepiece of our energy policy, Canada doesn’t have much moral authority on the issue. Especially now that Alberta and Canada have the gall to be disastrously promoting the Tar Sands as the ‘clean’ alternative for U.S. energy needs in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster. It is not the solution.

Here is a portion of Ban’s speech, cross posted from Its Getting Hot in Here

“We also have an opportunity to address a second existential threat to human kind – a threat posed by climate change. The science is sobering. And climate change is happening much, much faster than you may realize,” Ban Ki Moon, United Nations Secretary General said as he began is speech in Ottawa, Canada this morning.

“We must be ready and we must be committed to leave this planet Earth to our succeeding generations to be more hospitable and more environmentally sustainable. That is our political and historical responsibility.

That’s what I’m doing as the Secretary General – I’m going to discuss with Prime Minister Harper, as the leader of the G8, and as a chair of the G20 this year, and as one of the most developed countries in the world, Canada has a special role and special responsibility to play. That is what I want to emphasize here.”

The Canadian government doesn’t have much interest in the environment, even by conservative standards, except for exploiting it for commercial purposes. And Canada’s international image is at a low, in large part due to climate change. But the pressure is clearly on in the post-Copenhagen ‘climate’ to start making in-roads.

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