Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 15, 2001
What we're in for at Kananaskis
Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced this summer that the 2002 G8 Summit will be held in the remote Kananaskis Provincial Park.
After the violent confrontation between riot police and civil society representatives in Genoa in July and in Quebec City in April, it has become more difficult to find a city that will host a global conference.
Since this conference will take place in our own backyard, we better find out what it is all about.
The G8 is an exclusive club of industrialized nations that started out as a G6 in 1975, when the U.S., France, Great Britain, Japan, Italy and Germany combined their efforts to deal with the oil crisis. Canada joined the group in 1976 and Russia became an official member in 1998.
The issues discussed at their meetings deal with international trade, relationships with developing nations, employment, the environment, organized crime, drug trafficking, arms control and terrorism. In short, all matters related to what is now known as globalization.
So, what is globalization? It is a handy catchword that covers a lot of phenomena but in general refers to our global interdependence. Economists blame everything that happens in the economic and social sphere on its inevitability.
Government institutions and transnational elites use the term to disown their own responsibility for certain unwelcome developments and at other times to take credit for what is perceived as positive developments.
In reality, globalization is a euphemism for "transnational-ization," the unfettered expansion of transnational corporations into the world economy, particularly into the economies of the poorest countries.
Multilateral organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are key players in the globalization process. Free trade pacts are also part of the globalization puzzle.
All these agreements give large transnational corporations enormous benefits by taking advantage of a labour force capable of operating First World technology at Third World wages.
Critics point out that globalization, which creates new international laws for the sole benefit of foreign corporations is exploitive and undemocratic.
They say the current economic and social systems imposed by the G8 and associated institutions are imperialist and inherently unjust, leading to ever increasing disparity and impoverishment of the world's people and devastation of the natural environment.
The WTO, instituted in 1995 by the G8, is quickly becoming the most powerful body on the planet, increasingly intruding into people's lives wherever they live and setting rules which restrict the representative authorities of all levels of government in the interest of multinationals.
Opponents of globalization reject the privatization of public services and the dehumanizing system that reduces people to consumers of goods and services.
Citizen groups are angered at the lack of transparency of these summit meetings and strongly oppose the criminalization of dissent.
They insist that new rules should be put in place that protect the interest of the weak against the exploitation of the powerful and that democracies should priorize their social aims above the interest of corporate profits.
During the Holy Year, a world-wide campaign was initiated to lobby the G8 to forgive the international debt of the most impoverished countries. Participatory democracy, however, requires a sustained vigilance and awareness on the part of all citizens. Each year is holy and the time to proclaim justice is now.
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