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Harper pledges no broken promises from this year's G8

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at his closing news conference at the G8 Summit

Blair Gable/Reuters

It is the worst kept secret of G8 summits and more often than not, the bearer of broken promises.

So there will be few who will be astonished if Saturday's final G8 communiqué causes few ripples beyond the sherpas and their official delegations that have been cooking up its contents for months now.

Fuelling the cynicism is the fact that much of the contents of this year's document was leaked more than a month ago.

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper filled in the only unknown detail of Canada's signature child and maternal health centrepiece - the cost. He raised $5-billion in new money, which includes Canada's own $1.1-billion contribution.

Harper has branded this gathering the "accountability summit," and released a framework before the leaders arrived to track promises kept - and broken - in the future.

"We must stick to our commitments because this calls into question our credibility," Mr. Harper said Saturday as the G8 wrapped.

That accountability may be easier tracked than delivered. All of the G8 countries are compelled to deal with swelling deficits and voters in most countries who are uneasy about profligate public spending. The political will to help poorer countries has been eroded in traditionally generous countries such as Britain and Germany, where David Cameron and Angela Merkel head coalition governments.

You don't have to look very hard, or very far to track the broken promises of the past.

At last year's Italian-hosted G8 summit, the leaders committed to a new $22-billion fund for food security. So far, they've anted up only $880-million.

The 2005 Gleneagles summit hosted by Britain has produced other broken promises that hang over this year's Canadian G8.

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The G8 will fall $14-billion short on its 2005 aid pledge of $25-billion to Africa.

And it is nowhere near fulfilling its 2005 promise to ensure that every AIDS patient in the world would get access to life-saving treatment.

So far, only four million are receiving treatment, while another nine million that need treatment are not getting it.

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