Prime Minister Stephen Harper – Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada in St. Petersburg, Russia, 09/06/2013

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It’s very warm in here, so I’ll try not to keep you too long. I hope you’ve enjoyed St. Petersburg. It’s a wonderful city. I hope you got a chance to see some of it. I will be very brief in my remarks, then take a few questions.

Obviously we are here with Minister Flaherty and Minister Baird for the meeting of the G-20, the principal economic forum in the world. It has produced here at St. Petersburg an action plan going forward that I think is actually quite strong, quite robust. It builds on the various accomplishments that the... achievements that the G-20 has had to this point in time.

I think the analysis of everyone around the table is that significant challenges remain in the global economy in terms of the recovery, but at the same time, it is unmistakable that the global economy is recovering. It is recovering gradually and step by step, and that’s obviously something we welcome, but we need not be... we should not be complacent about.

In that regard, I do want to note the positive employment figures we’ve seen come out in Canada today over the last month. As you know, it’s always my intention not to exaggerate month to month figures, which are subject to an estimates process and is subject to some volatility, but they do confirm a tendency that has been ongoing for some time, and that has been the steady growth of jobs in Canada. We now have over one million net new jobs created since the end of the recession in 2009.

Obviously we discussed another issue at this meeting, and that was the situation in Syria. As I said yesterday at dinner, we had a discussion that was, to be fair, extremely frank, but I think also respectful, respectful of what are very large divergences of opinion around the table.

We share the view of our allies, that the use of chemical weapons on an unprecedented scale by the Syrian regime constitutes very troubling development, and if it is not countered, it will constitute a precedent that we think is very dangerous for humanity in the long term. And so obviously we are very supportive of those of our allies who want to take action to try and prevent this development from going further, trying to dissuade the Syrian regime from this course of action.

At the same time, as you know, we did announce here at the conference further contributions in terms of humanitarian assistance. Canada has since the beginning been a strong and generous contributor to humanitarian assistance, both in Syria, and in the wider region. And obviously, we will continue to make our contribution to that as we go forward on what is a terrible crisis for the people of Syria.”

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