G8 PDA - Macleans.ca



An entertaining pool report from the official welcoming of G8 leaders to Pittsburgh.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives with his wife. They get a warm welcome from both Obamas, the warmest so far. There’s a lot of familiarity. Hugs, chats about daughters.

Granted, it would still seem, at least on the public display of affection scale of American relations, that the Harpers rank slightly behind the Browns (“hugs, kisses, more hugs, more kisses, handholding, you name it”) and Sarkozys (“Mr. Obama kisses her four times … Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Sarkozy chat warmly. A lot of touching there too”).



  1. Yesterday Susan Delacourt told me that the whole world moved on without Mr. Harper because he was at Tim Hortons… how is it possible that he is meeting Obama right now, let alone warmly!? Or providing lending assistance to African nations, or meeting with the leader of Pakistan?

    I don't believe it. I'm going to complain to the New York Times for this outrageous pack of lies.

  2. The last official G7 G7+Russia meeting of any significance. With the official announcement that economic matters will be handled by the G20, I'd guess that the G7 will quietly disappear, and with it, the chance for Canada to ever be considered just that much more relevant than, say, Finland or Norway.

    Of course, that won't be all bad. Nobody bugs Finland or Norway to take in large chunks of refugees or donate huge sums of money. It's probably more expensive to be a celebrity, or even part of a celebrity entourage.

  3. While it makes sense to have periodic meetings of the G-20, which should more appropriately be called the G-35 when you count all the actual attendees, the large number of participants makes it unwieldy.

    It is good news for Canada that the G-8 is not being replaced by a G-2 (US and China) or a G-4 (US/EU/China/Japan) as the buzz in diplomatic circles suggested. Now that the G-20 appears likely to take on a life of its own, I'd rather see Canada champion a return to the G-7 rather than the keeping the G-8 since there is much more rationale to have a smaller group of like-minded countries such as the G-7. This is why the G-7 finance ministers still meet as the G-7. As for the G-8, the addition of Russia never made much sense to me and I'd have no problem if it faded away.

    Canadians have always overestimated Canada's role in the G-7 and G-8. Canada was not part of the original G-5 and only made it into the G-7 because the U.S. and Japan objected to having so many European members when the France and Germany insisted on inviting Italy.

    • Very true. I think the main perk that comes with being in the G-7 (for Canada) is in agenda-setting, rather than explicit decision-making power. Canada is unlikely to influence anybody, but when we host the G7/8 (which we do a bit more than once a decade) we get decide what issues go on the table. Chretien used Kanehsetake (sp?) to push for aid to Africa, for instance. I suspect Harper will focus on freer trade, which seems to be his cause celebre.

      Any deviation from 7 will hurt Canada, because we are number 7 (in fact Canada is the world's 14th largest economy, a fact the G-7 luckily ignores). It will also be worse for the world. The more countries you have in the mix, the less likely that any will have common interests. Moreover, the likelihood of common norms and values would be less. You could have a G-2 that would be relatively unsuccessful if the countries in it were Iran and Israel.