[Canadian Prime Minister] PM's plan pushes UN to sidelines - Martin proposes new global leaders' forum on eve of White House meeting with Bush
(Note: Livestock producers/farmers/ranchers, beware! This is a heavily political move and one that will lean on America to allow itself to be trampled by Canadian cattle and disease. Also, reference to sidelining the United Nations would be comical if it weren't so false. Just note that the "European Union" is one of the G20 'Nations' -- a global organization from the word go, and with its center being ... care to guess? ... the UN. Several on this 'G20' list read like a Who's Who of countries seeking to gut America of her own farmers and ranchers while replacing our resource providing with their own. Does anyone see Red Flags yet?)
April 30, 2004
By Drew Fagan, Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Washington, D.C. - Prime Minister Paul Martin pressed forward yesterday with his plan for a global-leaders forum to solve the world's thorniest problems, giving short shrift to the United Nations as he did so.
Anything from the need to re-energize world trade talks to the fight against terrorism to the battle to improve access to cheap drugs in the poorest countries would benefit from small, unstructured meetings of leaders of the industrialized North and developing South, Mr. Martin said in a major foreign policy speech. It was delivered before he spent much of the day on Capitol Hill seeking support for Canada's beleaguered beef farmers and softwood producers.
"We need to get the right mix of countries in the same room talking without a set script," he said. "We do believe a new approach directly involving political leaders could help break a lot of logjams."
Mr. Martin is expected to press his proposal today when he meets with President George W. Bush. But the focus of the Prime Minister's meeting at the White House, scheduled to last more than 90 minutes, is trade and international security.
Yesterday, Mr. Martin said he and a group of cabinet ministers had found remarkable support among leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate for reopening the border to unfettered trade in cattle, now restricted because of mad-cow disease, and softwood lumber, which is the subject of a prolonged trade dispute.
However, Mr. Martin also expressed some frustration at cross-border trade ties. "We are continually astonished at how quickly the border can be closed when pressures erupt in the United States. . . . Protectionism benefits no one."
Congressional leaders -- both Republican and Democrat -- gave Mr. Martin a warm welcome, and expressed support for the Prime Minister's intention to devote more resources to getting Canada's point of view across on Capitol Hill.
Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the foreign relations committee, said Canada-U.S. ties are close "but need to be closer." Senator Joseph Biden, the senior Democrat on the committee, was more specific, suggesting that Canada could play a critical role in the reconstruction of Iraq.
"Getting involved does not mean we won't still carry the bulk of the responsibility -- we will," said Mr. Biden, arguing that Canada's opposition to the war in Iraq gives it strong credibility now to bring the international community together to seek a solution.
The Bush administration likely will also press for growing Canadian involvement in "institution-building" in Iraq, something Canada is already engaged in through the training of police and the building of a tenable justice system.
Mr. Martin has hinted at a willingness to do more, if the circumstances are right. Canadian officials described the White House yesterday as interested in Mr. Martin's idea for a G20 group of leaders -- building off a similarly structured group that Mr. Martin established when he was finance minister. But U.S. officials also noticed yesterday that Mr. Martin made little effort before his Washington audience to praise the UN. In two previous foreign policy speeches - as a candidate for Liberal leader one year ago and at an international meeting weeks after taking power - Mr. Martin described the UN as being at the "centre" of global governance.
Yesterday, Mr. Martin was more reticent, advocating a rapid UN return to Iraq, but focusing on the need for the reform "of many institutions within and without the UN family." He would not, he said, "belabour the obvious."
A Canadian official said later that the UN's "institutionality" often tends to stifle worthy initiatives. More flexibility is needed, he said, to overcome international challenges - just what Mr. Martin is proposing through his G20 leaders forum.
The G20 nations