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From Taormina to Charlevoix

Katrina Bland, G7 Research Group
September 9, 2017

The plans for the 2018 G7 summit began long before Canada officially takes over the G7 presidency from Italy on January 1, 2018. On the last day of the 2017 G7 Taormina Summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the 2018 Summit would be held in the Charlevoix region of Quebec. Canada is an experienced G7 leader, having hosted five summits, starting in 1981 in Ottawa, then 1988 in Toronto, 1995 in Halifax, 2002 in Kananaskis and 2010 in Muskoka.

Hosting the G7 summit is an opportunity to do more than simply encourage collective action. It is also an opportunity for the host country to push its own domestic and international agenda while drawing attention to its own strengths and accomplishments. Just as Taormina was chosen for Italy's presidency, Charlevoix was carefully chosen to showcase Canada's rich cultural history and natural beauty. Charlevoix attracts visitors from around the world who wish to see the historic homes where Canadian nobility first entertained visitors as well as the wonder of the St. Lawrence River, home to beluga and blue whales. Moreover, this setting exemplifies Canada's historical and present commitments to bilingualism, cultural diversity and environmental preservation. Charlevoix was likely chosen with the hopes of influencing the visiting leaders to commit to these same values.

Although the official 2018 Charlevoix Summit agenda has not yet been released, Canada's general domestic and foreign policy goals provide a guideline for what will be included. Canada hopes to strengthen the middle class, advance gender equity, fight climate change, and promote respect for diversity and inclusion. Comparing this to what was discussed at the 2017 Taormina Summit provides a more exact picture of what Canada will be pushing for in 2018.

Terrorism was discussed first and foremost at Taormina. In the wake of the Manchester attacks, it was an issue all G7 leaders could easily agree to. Thus, even if the coming year is completely free of terrorist attacks, it is likely terrorism will remain on the agenda, as it has for every G7/8 summit over the past ten years. Strong commitments on terrorism may also result in high compliance among member countries in the following year.

Gender issues are also likely to appear on the Charlevoix Summit agenda, as Canadians have come to expect Justin Trudeau to push gender equality on the world stage. Moreover, the number of commitments dedicated to gender issues has increased drastically in G7 outcome documents since the 2016 Ise-Shima Summit. At Taormina G7 leaders agreed to strong and comprehensive action, creating the G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment. Canada will not likely break this trend, rather it will build on the progress made in 2017.

Finally, the issue, that in many observers' minds defined the frustrations of the Taormina Summit and one sure to appear again in 2018, was climate change. Indeed, climate change proved to be the most contentious issue, as for the first time in G7/8 history a member country was singled out due to its denial of climate change, thus creating a majority rather than full consensus. Despite this obvious cause of division between the U.S. and its G7 peers, climate change remains a top priority worldwide. Leaving it off the agenda would be a dangerous disappointment that would likely call into question the legitmacy of the G7 entirely.

In the lead up to the summit, the world will thus be watching to see how the United States negotiates both in and outside of the summit process.

With Taormina the first summit for many G7 leaders, at Charlevoix they will be much more experienced in the summit process, thus providing optimism for continued cooperation on contentious issues, even in the face of high expectations back home. The G7 Charlevoix Summit will be hosted on June 8-9 2018.

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Katrina BlandKatrina Bland holds an Honours BA in international relations and political science from the University of Toronto. She is chair of summit studies for the 2018 Charlevois Summit, having served as lead analyst. She is also a compliance analyst for the G20 Research Group. Her research focuses on G7 and G20 gender and health issues, in addition to her other research interests in cross-cultural communication and international law.

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