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Canada’s G7 presidency to focus on gender equality, economic issues

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Canada will focus on climate change and gender equality, among other themes, when it takes the helm of the G7 presidency next year, potentially drawing more attention to the differences of opinion between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

On Thursday, Mr. Trudeau announced the five themes of Canada's G7 presidency in 2018: gender equality; climate change, oceans and clean energy; economic growth that works for everyone; preparing for jobs of the future and building a more peaceful and secure world. The themes will be front and centre when Canada hosts the Group of Seven summit at a remote luxury resort in Charlevoix, Que., next June.

"It's going to be an amazing time to highlight some of the values and priorities that Canada has on the world stage. We are really looking forward to welcoming the world to Charlevoix," Mr. Trudeau said during a Facebook live address.

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As a part of Canada's focus on gender equality and women's empowerment, the Liberal government is expected to push the controversial issue of sexual- and reproductive-health rights – a policy area on which Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Trump have polar opposite views.

Mr. Trudeau – a self-identified feminist – announced in March that Canada would spend $650-million over three years on sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide, including contraception, sex education and legal abortion. The pledge came months after Mr. Trump reinstated the so-called global gag rule, prohibiting U.S. funding to international organizations that fail to disavow abortion.

The leaders are also divided on the theme of climate change. Mr. Trudeau said his government will weave the Paris climate agreement into everything Canada does during its presidency.

"The G7 is about building consensus and moving forward together, but it's also about making sure that people hear loudly and clearly what our own priorities are. And that's why we're going to keep talking about the environment and about how important it is to fight climate change," Mr. Trudeau said.

Canada has persuaded the Trump administration to consider backing a climate change-related initiative when it hosts the G-7 summit next year, The Canadian Press reports.

Mr. Trudeau said Canada will make preservation of the world's oceans a major agenda item. The Trump administration has given the green light to developing the theme in pre-summit meetings early next year.

Next June will mark the sixth time Canada hosts a G7 summit. The previous Conservative government oversaw the most recent summit in Muskoka, Ont. in 2010. It also hosted the G20 summit that year in Toronto, which made international headlines over mass arrests of protesters and cases of police misconduct.

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The G7 consists of seven of the world's advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States. Leaders of the seven countries get together once a year to discuss the most challenging global issues. The presidents of both the European Council and the European Commission represent the EU at the G7 summits. Russia was suspended from the group in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea; as a result, the G8 became known as the G7.

With files from the Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is asking Canadians to work towards gender equality every day leading up to a Vancouver conference in the summer of 2019. About 6,000 people are expected to attend the Women Deliver conference. The Canadian Press
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